Chances are, every now and then you bemoan the fact that men get off so easy not having to worry about their looks. Well, guess what? They do worry. And to make matters worse, they're not supposed to be concerned about their appearance. "Culturally speaking, males are expected to be blase about their looks," says Lynne Luciano, PhD, author of Looking Good: Male Body Image in Modern America. "However, most men care deeply and often experience the same 'body blues' that women do."
Of course, you'll never get your guy to 'fess up to his nagging insecurities. So we snagged a bunch of brave, tortured souls to clue us in to men's most common body bummers. Then, we got experts to give us insight into why men worry, and some confidence-boosting lines to help you ease your dude's anxiety.
BODY WOE #1: "At 5'7", I'm not exactly a midget, but would chicks be more into me if I were taller?"—Tomas, 29
Insecurity Insight: The presumed epitome of male hotness is tall, dark, and handsome. So any guy who comes up a little short is bound to feel less than desirable. "Knowing this vulnerability, the worst thing a woman can do is slouch, bend over, or otherwise try to downplay her height if she's with a shorter man," explains Luciano. "It is clearly saying, 'I'm conscious of our height difference, so I'm trying to minimize it.'"
Confidence-Lifting Line: "I'll never understand why average-size chicks get with giants. How do you have sex with that kind of height difference?"
BODY WOE #2: "My six-pack is starting to look like a case. I'm embarrassed to even take my shirt off." —Jasper, 31
Insecurity Insight: "Men are bombarded with images of muscular men with ripped abdominals, which establishes that look as the female ideal," says psychotherapist Karen Pickett, author of When Looks Are Everything and You Feel Like Nothing. "The best way to dispel that myth is to tell your man that those shredded stomachs make a guy appear too vain."
Confidence-lifting Line: "I'd hate to date a guy who lives in the gym."
BODY WOE #3: "In the last few years, gray hairs have appeared near my temples, and I'm not even 30!" —Charles, 29
Insecurity Insight: "You may think a few gray hairs make a man look distiguished, but to him, it makes him seem like he's getting old and is less attractive to women," says Pickett. So don't suggest that his graying hair makes him seem sophisticated," says Luciano.
Confidence-Lifting Line: "That hot chick was totally checking you out. She's asking for a catfight—you're mine!"
BODY WOE #4: "No matter how many chest presses I do, my pecs look deflated."—Mike, 20
Insecurity Insight: "It's likely that a guy with a puny build was picked on as a child, so those feelings of inadequacy are carried with him into adulthood," says Luciano. "Some men are not genetically inclined to bulk up, but that doesn't help his negative self-image." Pump him up by pointing out the flip side: Muscleheads are good for one thing: carrying your luggage.
Confidence-Lifting Line: "Those superbuff goons in the fitness magazines need a bigger bra than I do."
BODY WOE #5: "My nose isn't just big. I feel like it casts a shadow over my shoes." —Mark, 19
Insecurity Insight: "When the 'ideal' image doesn't allow for individuality, a man will feel less attractive if he has a feature that doesn't fit the mold," says Pickett. Assuage him by zoning in on his great eyes or sexy lips and how you're not turned on by Zoolander lookalikes.
Confidence-Lifting Line: "I just love those lips. Can I have a kiss?"
BODY WOE #6: "I worry I'm not big enough down below. Women say size doesn't matter, but I think they're trying to make me feel better." —Dan, 28
Insecurity Insight: "In his mind, a man's penis is a yardstick of his masculinity," says Pickett. "A guy who's concerned that he doesn't measure up may feel inferior to other men and worry that he can't satisfy a woman sexually." However, technique matters more than size, so clue your guy in to that.
Confidence-Lifting Line: "You're such a good lover, you know exactly how to push all my hot buttons."
BODY WOE #7: "I sweat a lot, so I get self-conscious about my odor."—Albert, 19
Insecurity Insight: "Most men think of women as being a bit preoccupied with grooming and repelled by anything—or anyone—that doesn't meet their perceived clean standards," explaines Pickett. "If you show him you're the exception to the 'prissy-girl' stereotype, his insecurity will dissolve."
Confidence-Lifting Line: "After running around all day, I feel ripe. You don't mind, right?"
BODY WOE #8: "My legs are so thin, my uncle calls them my 'walis tingting.'"—Ron, 21
Insecurity Insight: "Big muscular legs are equated with athletic ability and strength, so a guy with skinny legs might feel wimpy," says Luciano. Okay, but how many chicks do you know who really care about a guy's stems? Unlike ripped abs or a tight butt, legs are just a second-class body part, so let him know how unimportant they really are.
Confidence-Lifting Line: Pinch his buns, then say, "Sorry I couldn't help myself. I'm such a butt girl!"
BODY WOE #9: "The first time I realized I was seeing a little more of my forehead than I used to, I wore a baseball cap for a week...until my girl made me take it off for a wedding." —Kevin, 27
Insecurity Insight: "Besides the obvious—he's getting older and worries that won't be attractive—this is the one physical "flaw" that men have less control over. "A man can exercise to change his body or dye his gray hair, but fighting baldness is almost impossible, which often makes men feel helpless," says Pickett. Think about it: Hair plugs and rags don't really cut it. Give him back the power by reassuring him that he doesn't need hair to be hot.
Confidence-Lifting Line: "Toupees don't hide anything! Men look sexier if they just shaved their heads and embraced baldness."
BODY WOE #10: "My parents couldn't afford braces, so my teeth are so crooked. I rarely smile." —Terrence, 21
Insecurity Insight: "Because it's so common for people to invest in straight, white teeth, a guy with imperfect teeth might worry that he's perceived as being unable to afford nice ones," says Pickett. So tell him how impressed you are that he's maintained his unique look.
Confidence-Lifting Line: "It's so cool that you've kept your teeth just the way they are. Your smile's so distinctive and cute; it really goes well with your personality."