BBC drama Bodyguard pulled in audiences of more than 10 million people, meaning a hell of a lot of people saw actor Richard Madden’s naked body.
The scene – where Madden’s character Sergeant David Budd was filmed from behind leaving the room of Home Secretary Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes) –was one of the most talked about of the series. But speaking on the subject of such on-screen nudity, Madden said: “We’re projecting a very unrealistic body image.”
“I find myself with actor friends – after we’ve done a kind of barely eating, working-out-twice-a-day, no-carbing thing for these scenes – looking at each other going: ‘We’re just feeding this same shit that we’re against,’” he said in a new interview in Vogue, adding that he’s had his fat rolls pinched on sets in the past.
“I’ve done numerous jobs where you’re told to lose weight and get to the gym... It doesn’t just happen to women, it happens to men all the time as well.”
Madden’s interview has inspired other men to share their body image concerns, with many praising the actor for raising awareness.
David Shaw, 30, from the West Midlands, is 6ft tall and describes himself as being “very skinny my entire life”, which has caused him to have low body-confidence.
“Being a ‘manly man’ pervades our culture. It’s on billboards, adverts, actors on chat shows, on movie trailers and aftershave branding. Wherever you go, hulking men (or at least toned men) greet you as the ideal,” he tells HuffPost UK.
“I’ve always felt I’m less of a man – whatever that means – because I don’t have bulging biceps, nor a six pack.”
Shaw thinks it’s important for men to feel they can talk about these issues and celebs like Madden can help lead the way.
“It’s difficult to start the conversation, but if celebrities such as Richard get it started, it begins to remove the taboo for other men,” he says.
Danny Bowman, 24, from York, was diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder as a teenager. He has “felt under extreme pressure to replicate the unattainable body image shown on social media platforms and TV.”
“In stems from this growing narrative in society to be perfect, look perfect and reduce any flaws,” he says. “It’s not attainable and people sending this narrative need to show leadership and reject spreading unattainable body types.”
Because of this, he thinks it’s “so important” for people like Madden to keep sharing their experiences. “I commend him for speaking out as it can’t have been easy. I hope all platforms show as much leadership on this issue as Richard Madden has,” he says.
Scott McGlynn, 31, from Cardiff, has also praised the actor for raising awareness. “It’s great for Richard to talk about this because not everyone is body confident and it’s important to share that it doesn’t matter what shape or size you are, that doesn’t effect your talent,” he says.
McGlynn, who’s an LGBT activist and model, says he’s own body-confidence has been knocked on set when doing shoots with his top off or in underwear.
“I’m not one of these models with a great body with six pack, it’s been once or twice when I had to get my top off I felt really uncomfortable but had to get the job done,” he says.
Another 25-year-old, who wishes to remain anonymous, says in his early twenties he had a slim frame but with “a little tummy” – something his ex-girlfriend and friends often joked about.
“We would be watching movies and we’d see the main lead couple doing something romantic and I’d jibe in saying ‘hey when are we gonna do that?’ and she’d say ‘when you have a body like that!’” he says.
“I was essentially skinny but had a protruding belly – everyone around me would make a point to point it out to me and make fun of it. I’d get really embarrassed. I’d wear always large size shirts and I’d still try to suck in my belly and walk.”
A few years ago he felt pressure to lose weight and in hindsight, did so unhealthily. He thinks it’s important for people like Madden to normalise talking about male body image so the subject isn’t taboo.
“Toxic masculinity still prevails in today’s society. It drives men to act out violently rather than expressing their emotions,” he says. “If they learn how to share they’ll know that a lot of other men are also going through the same thing. It’s a healthy step towards a better life.”