Managing Conformity in Healthy and Realistic Ways

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Managing Conformity in Healthy and Realistic Ways Empty Managing Conformity in Healthy and Realistic Ways

Post by Jayce on Mon Jan 26, 2015 1:38 pm

Ok so I've just read Doc's article about Male Beauty Standards/Societal Definition of Masculinity. I'm going to admit, I'm one of the biggest conformers to those standards, I go to the gym three times a week, I shave all my facial and body hair, I eat very few carbs and every time I do I would cringe a little bit, I practice hard at becoming more extroverted, I value charisma and confidence as very important skills. Hell before I started improve myself in any areas of my life, what was the first thing I did? Lose weight so I was not chubby anymore. I have always been reading things like body positivity, fat acceptance, the recent article on spornosexuality, its ok to be shy etc.... but since a while now I have made up my mind that I would prefer to conform to some of the societal expectations instead and I'm willing to put in the effort. Its a personal choice.

However I've learnt to make a compromise and told myself that I would still conform to these standards cause I want to, but I'll do it in ways that are healthy and aren't harmful to myself.

So I've set rules for myself and some of them are:

Having no rules for food when I'm out with other people (except for no chilli, I hate chilli)

Not putting myself down about my body fat percentage, instead changing it to a work in progress mindset

Being patient with my goals (no crazy shortcuts like starving, taking lots of supplements etc...)

Having a Strong Understanding of Societal Standards (Means being aware of the dangers & the unrealistic possibilities, knowing the background knowledge of these desires i.e men were the creators of beauty standards for being ripped etc...)

Adapting and de-toxicing standards to suit me (for example men can be interpreted as aggressive, I find that idea really disturbing and bad so instead I'm changing it to Men are Proactive. Men don't cry. I hate that idea cause men are human so instead I'm changing it to Men have control over their emotions, so I can cry but I can't just wail everywhere, let your feelings get me down too much so I don't ever do anything and dump all my problems onto someone else.)

Knowing that conformity isn't always easy

Not punishing myself for screwing up

Making a compromise between conformity and what I personally like (Fortunately I actually really enjoy most or a lot of the things that society wants of men, I love going to the gym, strength training, I like shaving my body hair, being extroverted, having confidence, being charismatic). A good example of a compromise is, I love being nerdy. But society dosen't exactly view the ideal man as nerdy. So my compromise is, I'll still be openly nerdy and keep all the nerdy things I like, I'll nitpick the parts of conformity I like, and adapt to them. I'll have the ability to be realatable to people who aren't nerdy. I'm not just going to be "the nerd", I'll understand mainstream interests that aren't geeky, I'll have interests that I like but are not within the realm of nerdom.

Not conforming in ways that I dont' enjoy or would make me miserable. E.g I like drinking cocktails and mixes but I'm not a big drinker when it comes to alcohol and I don't like the feeling of being drunk very much. So men are supposed to be good at drinking. Yeah no, I'm ditching that ideal.

Are there any other rules/measures I should set up so I don't end up doing something bad to myself? Of course I still want to conform on at least a decent level of what society wants. Believe it or not, quite a bit of conformity actually makes me happy and overlaps with what I like anyway. So its not like I'm a pressured miserable mess, trying to flip a 360 and doing things I absolutely hate.

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Post by OneTrueGuest on Mon Jan 26, 2015 1:54 pm

I think also making sure you don't judge others for not doing what you're doing actually helps to be kinder to yourself. The less you judge others, the less you assume others are judging you. And then the less pressure you put on yourself to always be perfect.

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Post by Guest on Mon Jan 26, 2015 4:21 pm

I also think it's important to be aware of the distinction between "I like doing these things" and "I like what doing these things gives me/makes me." Both are fine, but if you tell yourself you like working out when in fact you like being ripped, you're setting yourself up for a disconnect down the road. If you tell yourself you like being thin when actually you really just like eating lots of vegetables and going for long hikes, same problem from the other direction. Be aware of your real feelings about both the ends and the means.

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Post by Conreezy on Mon Jan 26, 2015 8:23 pm

ElizaJane wrote:I also think it's important to be aware of the distinction between "I like doing these things" and "I like what doing these things gives me/makes me."  Both are fine, but if you tell yourself you like working out when in fact you like being ripped, you're setting yourself up for a disconnect down the road.  If you tell yourself you like being thin when actually you really just like eating lots of vegetables and going for long hikes, same problem from the other direction.  Be aware of your real feelings about both the ends and the means.

Absolutely.  This distinction can help keep you away from the pit of never feeling like you've accomplished your goal.  If you enjoy the process, you'll keep doing it anyway, results or no.  A common phrase among bodybuilders is "the day you started lifting is the day you became forever small," and while some people call that attitude motivating, I found it disconcerting.  

Being authentic is key, I think, to not stressing out over how you measure up.  (What did Mark Twain say?  "If you always tell the truth, you never have to remember anything."  Something like that. I've always thought that applied to my body in that I enjoy the process of healthy athleticism, which keeps my mind off of remembering to work specific muscles in order to measure up.)

I'm not just going to be "the nerd", I'll understand mainstream interests that aren't geeky, I'll have interests that I like but are not within the realm of nerdom.

I think (and live) just this way myself.  It is not necessary to conform to all the negative aspects of nerddom to be a "true" nerd, just as you can be an in-shape jock without being a dick.  It's entirely possible!

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Post by Jayce on Tue Jan 27, 2015 12:59 am

ElizaJane wrote:I also think it's important to be aware of the distinction between "I like doing these things" and "I like what doing these things gives me/makes me."  Both are fine, but if you tell yourself you like working out when in fact you like being ripped, you're setting yourself up for a disconnect down the road.  If you tell yourself you like being thin when actually you really just like eating lots of vegetables and going for long hikes, same problem from the other direction.  Be aware of your real feelings about both the ends and the means.

Thanks for that! I haven't thought of that too much, cause I'm a person that can get focused more on the ends than the means and I think being more aware of those feelings can be good. It is only recently (a couple of months) that I've set the no "food bitchiness" rule when I'm out with other people cause frankly I freaking enjoy spending time with others, eating delicious and sometimes exquisite food that I've never tried before! I couldn't care less how many calories are going into that, because I'm just having a really good time with my friends which is way more important to me. Also coincidentally I'm feel more attractive to women at a party when I'm just enjoying myself, eating whatever feels good, cause I feel fun!
I guess part of my lack or awareness for means is also because I enjoy most of the means and have an aversion to things that feel too uncomfortable for myself. For example my eyelids are uneven, and one day I found out about something called double-eyelid tape. Basically its like sticky tape on your eyelids to make them look fuller and even. I brought some at a makeup store and tried it out. It was uncomfortable, I didn't like it, it was hard to take out after you applied it, and its hard to apply properly in the first place. It felt like a damn chore even though the end result made my eyelids looked evened out. Never using it ever again.

Conreezy wrote:
If you enjoy the process, you'll keep doing it anyway, results or no.  A common phrase among bodybuilders is "the day you started lifting is the day you became forever small," and while some people call that attitude motivating, I found it disconcerting.  

Being authentic is key, I think, to not stressing out over how you measure up.  (What did Mark Twain say?  "If you always tell the truth, you never have to remember anything."  Something like that.  I've always thought that applied to my body in that I enjoy the process of healthy athleticism, which keeps my mind off of remembering to work specific muscles in order to measure up.)

Definitely, for example I really am not a big fan of training my legs. So I always skip leg day. I do think about measuring up, and it is part of the reason I was motivated for a lot of things. I'm not going to lie to myself. Yes I am there at the gym or in a shopping mall checking out clothes, partially because I want to be more appealing to a larger number of women but that's not the only reason I'm there, or I wouldn't have been motivated to continue doing it anyway. I have definitely been mean to myself and verbally punched myself for not measuring up well enough. I have never measured against other people, but I do measure against the general standards. I definitely should add that into my list. I don't enjoy it when I'm stressing about measuring up. So I'm learning to measure up in a more mentally healthy way, telling myself that yes I do want to measure up, but even if I don't I can still be more than ok. And I have this community to thank for that cause I have read so many stories about how people still succeeded even though they didn't measure up.

OneTrueGuest wrote:I think also making sure you don't judge others for not doing what you're doing actually helps to be kinder to yourself.  The less you judge others, the less you assume others are judging you.  And then the less pressure you put on yourself to always be perfect.

I judge others neutrally when it comes to this stuff: they're doing whatever they are doing. I'm doing whatever I'm doing. None of us are better than the other or whatever, we're just living life in our own ways and making our own choices. I've personally understood how not fitting in feels like for most of my life.

I know why I value conformity highly though. Its because I'm really young. I'm born in a generation where from a very young age we are taught to value these things media tells us. And its everywhere, tv, ads, billboards,magazines, and its shoved right in our faces every day. I'm brainwashed to value these things and they succeeded. I know tv existed long before and so did ads but in 2000, I was only five years old. And in the 21st century this influence is stronger more than ever. I grew up in the age where Hugh Jackman couldn't just pass as Wolverine anymore after film one.

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Post by Conreezy on Tue Jan 27, 2015 12:25 pm

Definitely, for example I really am not a big fan of training my legs. So I always skip leg day.

Can I offer this suggestion? Working the legs will help keep you from hitting a plateau everywhere else. Those are big muscles, and training them keeps producing the testosterone your body will use to regrow muscle throughout your frame. It'll also help prevent some lower back problems that can pop up if you get too heavy up top.

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Post by OneTrueGuest on Tue Jan 27, 2015 1:51 pm

Jayce I don't think your definition of conformity makes sense. People have been conforming aesthetically since the beginning of time. Women didn't show their ankles, men wore stockings and wigs, women cinched their waists so small, etc etc and so forth. What you are referring to are the standards to which the media would like you to conform now. But I would argue you have no more pressure to conform than any of us of any generation. I too was once your age (shocking I know), and the pressure to own the right things and look the right way was just as strong as it is now. And just like you there were people who felt the pressure to conform. But there were also people who didn't. Who pushed against conformity and became rebels (or so they thought). You will in every generation have those who conform and those who don't. I don't think there's any more pressure now than there was before, it's just what is now cool or hot is not the same as what once was. That's how style works, it evolves, it changes. But the pressures remain the same.

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Post by Autumnflame on Tue Jan 27, 2015 7:32 pm

Honestly, lots of people value conformity highly (though they're probably outnumbered by the people who don't really introspect and just do the standard thing because it's What You Do, why think about it?). Cultural standards wouldn't exist otherwise. Wink
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