If there’s one thing beauty insecurities excel in, it’s delivering an impressive arsenal of self-doubt and self-loathing. As for societal judgment — easy. And you can bet even men deal with this, too.
It’s not just about validation from society anymore, it’s about the liberation from self-consciousness. While men and women do indeed receive different forms of negative connotations when it comes to their physical “flaws” (that’s a whole different story, honey), we set out to investigate how Singaporean men feel and handle their beauty insecurities.
I’m insecure about my… thinning hair
“Having a hair loss problem is definitely a top insecurity of mine. With premature hair loss being more prominent in males than in females, there is also a social stigma against men using beauty products. Think: concealer or hair prevention products. Even though these items are a normality, when a man uses them we are criticised for trying too hard to look good. Why does it always have to be seen as competing with society’s beauty standards?'” — Shawn, 29
“I’m a walking contradiction when repping for self-love is involved. I have thinning hair and I’m never without a hat to hide the obvious balding. I usually teach my friends and family that we always have to love ourselves and embrace what we believe are flaws. But, in reality, I don’t practice what I preach. Only my family and girlfriend are aware of my thinning hair, and for vanity’s sake, I want to keep it that way.” — Khalid, 36
I’m insecure about my… thin brows
“Brow pencils are a game-changer. It’s idiot-proof, and I’m living for it. I’m a heavy binge-watcher of Korean dramas and the male actors always have thick, bushy eyebrows. Why couldn’t I be blessed with that trait? I feel that women, in general, equate how thick our brows are to our manliness. God forbid someone questions how masculine I am. Get over yourself, Charlotte. Nevertheless, I’m still very insecure about my thin brows and always overdraw them before I leave my house.” — Sebastian, 32
I’m insecure about my… big lips
“I usually hide my lips when I ask others to take pictures of me. I grew up with big lips… courtesy to my mother. That being said, I won’t blame genetics. But having thick lips as a guy, I usually encounter girls who always comment on my lips once they see me. While some admit it’s sexy, I have this nagging feeling that anyone who looks at me automatically stares at my lips. This is most problematic when I have to take group pictures. I feel that big lips aren’t desired as compared to when girls get lip fillers. It doesn’t feel like we are held to the same beauty standard.” — Ahkam, 30
I’m insecure about my… naturally curly hair
“Let’s clear something up. Growing up with naturally curly hair isn’t as genetically blessed as it seems. I find it so difficult to style or straighten my hair because of my current state. My friends (read: my straight hair buddies) occasionally poke fun or girls casually twirl my hair with their fingers without asking — I wish they would stop. In fact, I always have the urge to just shave my head.” — Kingsley, 20
I’m insecure about my… monolids
“I’ll be quite honest: I didn’t have much of a problem with my single eyelids till I studied overseas. Yes, yes, yes, Asian features will definitely be different from our European counterparts — however, the teasing from local students wore me down. Even now that I’m back in Singapore, I have male friends who also opt for double eyelid surgery; I wonder if its because we’re told through those beauty campaigns or movie narratives that double eyelids are the standard of attractiveness for both men and women. Although I’ve learned to accept (and love) the way I naturally look, sometimes it just takes one beauty ad of a male model with double eyelids to trigger my deep-down beauty insecurity.” — Leonard, 28
I’m insecure about my… weight
“Personally, I’m insecure about my weight. For the male body, the extra fat that adds to ‘curves’ is not as flattering as that of a woman. You’re either fit… or you’re not, which makes me very self-conscious to wear clothes that are more fitting to the body.” — Swan Yi, 20
“I hate my body. HATE. Juice diets? Been there, done that. Working out at the gym? We’re well-acquainted. If you can explain why I can’t seem to lose weight, please DM me. I never take photos of myself — constantly shying away from any phones — just wishing I could fit in clothes that aren’t tagged in XXL. I know it isn’t fair to compare how girls and guys are scrutinised over their weight, but every time I go to the gym, in attempts of looking better, I get judgemental stares from six-pack dudes. Just never accepted.” — Micah, 25
I’m insecure about my… long forehead
“What can I say? Not even I, Mr I-Don’t-Care-What-You-Say, was immune to taunts from my peers. It got to me even though I constantly put up a front that it didn’t. Hats and sunglasses are my best friends as I find they visually trick you into thinking my face is proportionate. Here’s hoping.” — Eric, 28
I’m insecure about my… eczema
“I’ve had eczema for about 11 years now and it’s crazy how my self-confidence is tied to the condition of my skin. On the rare good days when my skin clears up and it feels 90% normal for once, I’m more than happy to go out and meet friends or even smile at strangers if I catch them looking my way. I feel amazing. But when it goes to shit, suddenly I’m insecure AF and I’d avoid even looking at myself in mirrors. If I had no choice but to be outside, I can’t help but keep my head down and avoid meeting anyone’s gaze. I just want to be alone at home, but it gets depressing.
Sustaining a career with eczema can be difficult too. There’s really no way to tell when a flare-up is going to happen. You do all you can to manage your skin but if it goes bad, it goes bad and that’ll put you out of work indefinitely. You can have a job you love, but eczema can ruin that.
Dating has also been difficult. Talking to girls on dating apps is fine until I bring up my condition and suddenly the conversation’s dead. At this point, I don’t even expect to be going out with any girls until I’m better. Even if I did get a chance to talk to one, I’ll always think she’ll never see me as a prospective date. I mean, first impressions count right?
I know I shouldn’t be tied down by my condition. I’ve met similar individuals with eczema but at the end of the day, the only thing I can remember about them was just how confident they were despite their condition. I try, but it’s hard.” — Nick, 29