David Beckham, Channing Tatum and Mark Wahlberg circa 1991, all have what the media portrays as the “perfect” male body.
Objectifying men didn’t happen overnight.
Nor did men’s obsession with obtaining the perfect physique.
There is now a proliferation of men’s fitness magazines, new gyms are popping up everywhere and sports supplements are a billion dollar industry; Hook, line and sinker.
Chris Chard, a personal trainer at World Gym in Cambridge, said a lot of younger males are still involved with various sports teams so they train at the gym to get bigger and stronger for their upcoming seasons.
“Those who aren’t involved in sports, do it for the sole reason of looking good naked. They might not tell you that, but they do it for the opposite sex mainly,” Chard said.
Women are bombarded with images on a daily basis, representing unrealistic ideals of the female form, unrealistic because sometimes the bodies are exactly that.
H&M found themselves in hot water back in 2011 with feminist groups and ethics committees as they admitted to using real models’ heads attached to computer generated bodies.
The media portrayal of men is catching up, and with a vengeance.
“We know that women, within seconds of looking through magazines, start to feel very depressed about themselves, I can’t imagine men being much different,” said Dr. Sharon Roberts, a sociology professor who lectures at the University of Waterloo.
Like women, men will need to take notice that the standards shown in adverts are not even remotely close to the real average. Just because you don’t look like a super-model doesn’t mean you should feel bad about your own body image.
“The average (female) model is 5-feet-11, 117 pounds, whereas the average woman is 5-feet-4 and 154 pounds.
You can see my classes quickly comparing themselves in their head, it’s quite astonishing,” Roberts said.
She pointed out that the media tends to portray two types of men.
Either the tall, dark and handsome one who gets all the girls, or the fat one who’s solely there to provide comic relief.
Look at any movie with Jonah Hill and look at his co-star for reference.
“We have to destroy the notion as a society that losing five pounds somehow makes you a better person, it has no bearing on your character,” Roberts said
Destroying that notion will be no easy task, as more and more men are hitting the weight room to bulk up or tone down to fit their own personal body shape goal.
“I was 129 pounds back in Grade 10,” said Cody Keeldy, a first-year protection/security and investigation student. He added, “I got picked on a lot, so I just started hitting the gym almost every day for two hours. Now I’m well over 200 pounds and hopefully will compete in an all-natural body building competition soon,” Keeldy said.
Although gaining or losing weight might not change your morals or core self-identity, it would be hard to argue against the confidence boost one receives when pants fit a little looser or you break a personal bench press record.
“Each person goes to the gym for a different reason.
The older crowd might go because of a doctor’s recommendation, whereas the younger crowd goes to look good and still benefit from the health aspect,” Chard said.
Work collars are changing from blue to white.
As more men transition to an office job instead of a factory one, the emphasis to look good has caused more men to opt for plastic surgeries and hair transplants in order to look and feel successful.
The other extreme often used to master your own physique is the use of anabolic steroids.
The cliché holds true in this situation as well; if a man openly talks about his body issues or insecurities he’ll be labelled as weak and the best advice he’ll hear from his peers is to man up and get over it.
“Eventually your body reaches a natural limit. I don’t care about being the biggest guy at the gym, I really just stack for my own personal goals,” said an anabolic steroid user who wanted to remain anonymous.
The media can show you how to look, and society can tell you, but it’s up to you as an individual person to listen and make up your own mind about how you want to look and live a happy and healthy life.