Students reflect on body image and self-expression

Students+express+themselves+through+exercise%2C+and+some+students+feel+pressured+to+exercise+by+the+media.

Mila Hamby

Students express themselves through exercise, and some students feel pressured to exercise by the media.

With celebrities like Harry Styles and Timothée Chalamet, the male image is under scrutiny, and new styles are being introduced. Pop culture is embracing femininity in men alongside the traditional man of muscles. 

Recently with increased LGBTQ+ acceptance, men expressing feminity are being portrayed more in the media. It’s created a duality, with Harry Styles on the cover of Vogue in a dress and former wrestler and workout fanatic Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson starring in blockbuster films.

Self-expression of all kinds is being encouraged, and Carlmont isn’t immune. While many teen fashion staples have remained, some new trends are entering the playing field. Carlmont students express themselves in a variety of ways, from looking big to wearing cute baby t-shirts.

Josh Lam, a Carlmont sophomore, shares his love of working out. He enjoys expressing himself through his athleticism, which has created a positive community for him.

“In the gym community, I feel like we talk about our body image a lot, but in a positive way. We’ll say, ‘Oh yeah, I’m looking big today. I’m looking strong.’ Or, ‘Oh, yeah, you look really big today. I see you working hard,’ and stuff like that. In the gym, we don’t talk negatively about each other,” Lam said.

Lam’s gym community shares kind words and helps one another appreciate their gains. In terms of fashion, Lam prefers to keep it comfortable.

“Before, I was trying to experiment with different styles, but once I got into high school, I put other stuff before how I look. I dress more comfortably now instead of trying to be flashy. I’m just trying to get through the day and get all my schoolwork done,” Lam said.

Garrett Paulus, a Carlmont junior, likes to focus on style, regardless of what’s trendy.

“I like to wear what’s cute,” Paulus said.

The Carlmont community also knows how to accessorize with rings, piercings, and other jewelry. Liam Gulsen, a sophomore, will add puka necklaces as a finishing touch to his outfit.

“I wear pukas. I feel like it’s simple and you can wear them over a lot of things because they’re a plain color. They’re really thin and small, and it’s a simple thing that just adds to what you’re wearing without being obnoxious,” Gulsen said.

Paulus acknowledges the impact that the media has had in normalizing a variety of styles.

“I don’t think the media necessarily encourages me to dress [femininely], but it allows for people to be more open. It’s okay to dress that way because that famous person did,” Paulus said.

Lam also thinks that people are becoming more accepting of different forms of expression. However, he says that are still some pressures and expectations.

“I feel like people are more open to different things and different styles, but it hasn’t really changed. At school, it’s not really normal to wear dresses or feminine stuff as a guy. I feel like it could change but just not right now. I think if you wear a dress as a guy, you’ll get made fun of,” Lam said.

While society has come a long way in recent years, there are still many stigmas and arbitrary expectations that influence what people wear and how people want to look. There can also be negative pressures exerted by the media. There has been coverage on how social media affects body image with emphasis on women and girls, but social media and television perpetuate unrealistic expectations for men and boys as well.

“I think the public image is so stretched on social media with filters and Photoshop and all that. It creates extremely unrealistic goals, and people are trying to meet these societal standards,” Paulus said. “It hasn’t really affected me, though, because I don’t need any of that.”

That said, these negative stereotypes do affect the self-image of many.

“I felt pretty pressured to think that I wasn’t looking good enough going into high school. I was a little more insecure back then than I am now about my general appearance, not just what I wear, and I feel like that was put on by other people’s stereotypes and judgments,” Gulsen said.

Despite influences from the media, the boys at Carlmont continue to express themselves in ways small and large.

“My style is just me,” Gulsen said. “It represents who I am.”