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Updated 05 January 2015

Attack of the man boobs

What's worse: a woman with fake boobs or a man with real ones? Man boobs are no laughing matter, say those who know.

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What's worse, a woman with fake boobs or a man with real ones?

Personally, I'd always go with the natural look, even if it sometimes falls short of what the media and society at large consider to be perfection. When it comes to the human body, the natural and real are just so much more interesting to me than the manufactured and artificial.

That's not to say that I'm not concerned about the state of my chest, of course. Like most men, I find the prospect of developing man boobs quite disconcerting. So I regularly find myself checking out the situation when I'm in the shower and although it's fair to say that I'm some way from growing proper moobs, it's equally apparent that my pecs have seen better days.

If I was made of more free-spirited stuff I'd show you a picture of what my torso looks like today, but I'll spare you the abuse. Suffice it to say that things have changed somewhat for the worse.

Abnormally enlarged male breasts - the medical term is gynaecomastia - are a serious problem for a surprisingly large number of boys and men that can lead to considerable embarrassment and emotional distress. Being a notoriously uncommunicative lot when it comes to important issues that affect us directly, most men have developed elaborate mechanisms to avoid talking about the issue. We'd rather discuss the minutiae of Formula 1.

Did you know that while man boobs can be a by-product of being overweight, in many cases they are the result of a medical condition most likely related to hormonal imbalances? Do you have enlarged breasts yourself, but have no idea what to do about them? It seems to me that an open and honest conversation about the issues involved would go some way towards making this less of a headache for so many of us.

One guy who doesn't beat about the bush when it comes to mantits is Anton Marshall, front man for the Cape Town band Three More White Guys. He actually sings about them!

Marshall: "Our song Mantits is really about the pressure all large people - or out-of-shape people - feel. Most people don't realise that in modern times guys are under as much pressure as women to have a flat stomach and chiselled chest. Take a look at a magazine and you'll see all the images being thrown at us about what we're supposed to look like. I was looking at one of those celebrity gossip rags and I remember thinking: 'Man, that crap you're saying about Jack Nicholson's boobs is such bullshit. The guy's 70! He's my granddad!'"

ManZone: Do you think moobs are a big personal issue for many guys?

Marshall: "Yeah I think there's a ton of ways people get ostracised and being differently shaped or overweight are just two of them. In my experience, men seem to do one of two things with the mantits issue: they either wear it like a badge or they completely retreat within it. There just doesn't seem to be any middle ground. Ultimately, wellbeing is about more than just mantits though. It's about feeling good about who you are."

ManZone: Any advice for dudes with man boobs? Do we embrace them, take them to gym or to the plastic surgeon?

Marshall: "All and none of the above. It won't do you any good to do anything without first deciding that there's something wrong or right with it. I've personally come to accept that I'll always have the potential to be overweight and out of shape. So I deal with that danger my way. I personally wouldn't consider surgery right now. Or gym, to be honest. But I do feel I'm in control of my body at the moment and I'm just fine with that."

More info:

- Man boobs demystified
- Exercise can get rid of your man boobs

(Andreas Späth, Health24, updated July 2013)

 
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