An impossible, perhaps even dangerous standard

Discussion in 'Underwear, Clothing, and Appearance Issues' started by D_Tim McGnaw, Jun 5, 2010.

  1. D_Tim McGnaw

    D_Tim McGnaw Account Disabled

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2009
    Messages:
    7,317
    Likes Received:
    8
    So I'm an artist and I paint naked men a lot, which is fun, I tend to prefer athletic and fit men as muses, for a variety of reasons, not least because they're just so god damned nice to look at :biggrin1: But that's not the only reason.

    I worked as a model scout in the years before selling my paintings earned me a living and I've noticed changes in the fashions in male beauty over the years and the expectations of what men "should" look like.


    With images of semi-naked men everywhere literally selling anything and everything and with big businesses investing huge capital and resources in marketing a variety of products and services to men (and women) by using images of male models and movie stars and sportsmen, the pressures on men to conform to a certain image standard is ever growing. It seems that while sensitivities regarding objectification of women are at least paid lip service to (even if they're ultimately ignored) there are no qualms whatsoever about making men purely objects of beauty or sexual allure and objectification for any purpose at all.

    The current trend in male beauty is to look "lean" which basically means skinny but with well defined muscles, requiring those who wish to achieve this look to obsessively monitor their calorific intake and workout like demons the whole time.

    Images like this one- Homotography

    or this one - http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Homotography/~3/4JrZbaKQCbE/leandro-maeder-by-dean-isidro.html


    or this one- Homotography


    or this one- http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Homotography/~3/A3NnfxLo4_Y/6-naked-scents-by-karl-simone-john-tan.html


    -are hardly uncommon in a mass media context these days.

    In my opinion while any of the models in the images above may be naturally that lean there's also a strong possibility that they have effectively starved themselves to be that thin, in order to conform to the current prevailing fashion in the male modeling industry.

    There's no question that everyone should aspire to be as healthy as they can, and eating well and getting plenty of exercise are essential to that aim, but do any of the men around here feel pressured by the constant barrage of images of ultra lean teenagers with less than 6% body fat?

    Anorexia is on the rise, steeply so, among men, is anyone else concerned that whereas the debate about pressures on women to conform to the size 0 image is everywhere and part of public discourse that the similar pressures on young men (and older men too for that matter) barely get a mention and are disguised by the fact that men tend to exercise themselves thin rather than starve themselves thin? Do people even understand that over exercising and obsessively restrained diets are have basically the same effects on men as they do on women?

    You look at a skinny guy on the street do you think "I wonder if he has an eating disorder?" or do you just think "wow he's as skinny as a rake" and think nothing of it, because we all just think some guys are skinny sometimes?

    Professionally I've met so many young guys who work out 5 times a week and who eat absurdly controlled diets and think they're really healthy, when they look like someone who's survived a death march, and under their superbly defined abs and pecs all you can see is bones and sinews.

    Is the unrealistic standard of beauty which effects women now beginning to effect men too? Do any of the male members of this site ever feel the pressure to look like the models in adverts, do you feel inadequate if you aren't able to achieve the current look?

    What do people think about this? Are we endanger or letting a body dismorphia and eating disorder epidemic among men sneak up on us while the rest of us more average guys end up feeling like fat freaks?
     
    #1 D_Tim McGnaw, Jun 5, 2010
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2010
  2. B_mitchymo

    B_mitchymo New Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2008
    Messages:
    4,706
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Rugby, England
    Obesity is pretty high in the west where the constant barrage of imagery depicting super healthy, super fit, superhuman men and women in order for companies and industries to sell sell sell.
    It would appear more likely that anorexia would really only be on the rise within the modelling community with the rest of the populas eating extra as comfort food because we feel inadequate.
     
  3. D_Tim McGnaw

    D_Tim McGnaw Account Disabled

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2009
    Messages:
    7,317
    Likes Received:
    8

    Well anorexia and compulsive over eating are in a spectrum of disorders related to food. I must say though that while yes in some western countries there's a rise in obesity, there's also a very real rise in other food related behavioural disorders like Anorexia, and there's a definite rise in the instance of these kinds of disorder in men, and not just models Mitchy.

    Male eating disorder rise blamed on social pressure - Health News, Health & Families - The Independent
     
  4. B_mitchymo

    B_mitchymo New Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2008
    Messages:
    4,706
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Rugby, England
    Perhaps it is not just down to advertising and specific industries but possibly a widespread change in attitude where guys are recognising that as we are living in a more tolerant society and they are having more and more interactions in social and working relationships with homosexuals, that they are a sexual object and they really want to live up to the new role by looking their best. Maybe.
     
  5. D_Tim McGnaw

    D_Tim McGnaw Account Disabled

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2009
    Messages:
    7,317
    Likes Received:
    8

    Hmmm maaaaaybeee :wink: Erm I suppose that would depend on a variety of factors. But I think the current move toward lean figured models was actually a response to large numbers of studies done among female focus groups and consumer studies which showed women were turned off by big bulky muscled guys (the body builder kind of look) and preferred images of leaner men with extremely defined abs.
     
  6. B_mitchymo

    B_mitchymo New Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2008
    Messages:
    4,706
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Rugby, England
    Well this gay guy likes the leaner look too. Surely it did'nt take a study to realise that humans, male and female are more attracted to human looking others as opposed to body built types who just look animalistic in their body structure.:confused:
     
  7. B_mitchymo

    B_mitchymo New Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2008
    Messages:
    4,706
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    Rugby, England
    I'm gonna shut up now actually so you can have a decent conversation with an academic type! :biggrin1:
     
  8. DirtyAngel

    Verified Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2010
    Messages:
    17
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    3
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    England
    Verified:
    Photo
    I feel really ignorant now after reading what you wrote, I think it's a great theory but I'm finding it really hard to form an opinion about it.

    I am a woman, so I don't 'know' how the male mind works, but I have always thought that the majority of guys didn't care so much about their looks, or at least not in a way that they feel pressured to fit some stereotype idea of a perfect guy.

    All the guys I've been with have always been really casual about how they viewed themselves, they did the normal dressing up for occasions, wearing the right clothes for the right situation, clean cut, but other than that at least from what I could tell were pretty relaxed about themselves.

    Of course perhaps they had insecurities that they managed to hide rather than display, which could just mean I didn't pick up on stuff going on for them. I have however never been with a guy that has say picked at food, they've all eaten heartily (none have been obese or even overweight really) but have all seemed to really enjoy a good wholesome home cooked meal.

    On the other hand, I know many women that skip meals for days and though I don't think they are anorexic in the extreme sense of the word, they do treat this as a normal part of life that them and everyone else they know does, like women putting on make up or wearing heels etc... I feel abnormal for not having this behaviour.

    I do realise male anorexia is definitely on the increase and it's sad to hear that, but I don't think it's at such a high pressure level that eating in an unhealthy manner is viewed by themselves or those around them as just a normal part of life that they have no awareness about it being unhealthy.
     
  9. D_Tim McGnaw

    D_Tim McGnaw Account Disabled

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2009
    Messages:
    7,317
    Likes Received:
    8

    OK but like I say, the term lean, a bit like the term slender (as applied to women) has been made a bit elastic, in that it now tends to mean extremely skinny, and the look of some young men isn't just healthily low in body fat, but emaciated. The problem is that we don't see enough average men (or people for that matter) who are healthy and at their appropriate weight, what we see are ultra muscular men or ultra-skinny and defined men. Neither of which are necessarily achievable for average guys, who if they put the effort in can be perfectly attractive if they eat well and get an appropriate amount of exercise.

    Just as promoting extremes in female body image is unhealthy, surely the same is true of men no?
     
  10. CURVEDANDTHICKK

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2006
    Messages:
    196
    Likes Received:
    10
    Very good topic of discussion. I think that men, especially teens and young men, are now obsessed with their weight and size. Many of the actors and music stars on TV are extremely thin but muscular. Their waist are really small and shoulders very broad. Just like girls did boys now see these images and want to look like that thinking that that is the look girls are looking for. My kids Mom actually had a discussion about this with them a while back. She told them that although some people are naturally thin others are naturally bigger and how big they are is not what is important. They were told to eat a healthy diet and exercise (really she told them to get off their ass and stop playing video games and do something physical) and everything will fall into place. She also told them that most women want their man to feel like a man meaning she wants hold on to something and he better not have a waist size smaller than hers.
     
  11. Jason

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2004
    Messages:
    9,919
    Likes Received:
    639
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    London (GB)
    An interesting post Hilaire.

    Thinking about guys at my gym I cannot think of one who looks quite like the guys on Homotography and your other links. There are quite a few who are overweight, sometimes very overweight. There are a few who clearly like their beer too much. There are a few who spend lots of time lifting weights and have muscles, but they are bulkier than the guys pictured. Most guys at the gym of all ages have a few muscles and look reasonably fit (and often look very good in a suit) but they are not like the guys pictured.

    The penny has just dropped that the "ideal" male physique promoted by society and the physique of "real" guys are not the same.
     
  12. D_Tim McGnaw

    D_Tim McGnaw Account Disabled

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2009
    Messages:
    7,317
    Likes Received:
    8

    See and I agree with you in general terms, and there's no question that among older men the figures for instance of Anorexia and other eating disorders is probably stable, it's among younger men that the awareness that working out too much and not eating enough to fuel that exercise is unhealthy doesn't seem to be as widespread.

    At this phase of the year I'm seeing a lot of different models, I'll end up picking a couple and working with them for the rest of the summer.

    I've seen maybe a dozen this year, which is less than the last two or three years, but in the last 5 years over all I've seen lots and lots of younger guys (say 18-25) who are intentionally working their bodies to be unnaturally skinny and they don't even seem to realise that the reason they're tired and irritable and lack concentration and get depressed sometimes is because their bodies can't cope with the way they train.
     
  13. Lex

    Lex
    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2004
    Messages:
    9,536
    Likes Received:
    16
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    In Your Darkest Thoughts and Dreams
    Fascinating topic, Hillaire. I have also noticed this trend and it is propagated by many fitness magazines and hot actors as the new male ideals. These guys on TV are NOT big, but because they are fit and have low bodyfat, they can appear huge. I don't think it's healthy in the least--emotionally, mentally, or physically. And to your point about their bodies not being able to handle the way they train, it is also compounded by the way they eat. If you are not consistently getting the right amounts of proteins, carbs, and fats, your hormones and enzymes get way out of whack. No person stays at 3-7% body fat (like those pics) for long periods of time (more than a few weeks or a couple months). Its not healthy. The sadder part, to me, is that if the guys gained more muscle, they could carry more fat and still look AS lean, while being more healthy.
     
  14. Boobalaa

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2007
    Messages:
    5,628
    Likes Received:
    1,049
    Gender:
    Male
    I see guys like that at the fitness club..with bodies all out of proportion..endomorphism gone rampant..big bulging muscles held up by muscular chicken legs ..trying to emulate cartoon characters
     
  15. D_Tim McGnaw

    D_Tim McGnaw Account Disabled

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2009
    Messages:
    7,317
    Likes Received:
    8



    Both of you guys are pointing out something really important here, that young men are responding to images of unreality.

    TV and Movie images are not realistic, nor are photo-adverts which are all photoshopped. It's an unrealistic standard which only a tiny proportion of men with a genetic predisposition could ever achieve while remaining healthy. The rest of us either are expected to make ourselves sick or feel inadequate for not living up to the current desired male look.
     
  16. thetramp

    Verified Gold Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2010
    Messages:
    1,273
    Albums:
    4
    Likes Received:
    10
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Germany
    Verified:
    Photo
    I guess i should share my perspective here, because i am one of those skinny guys who works out 5 times a week or more. And i am very cautious about what i eat too, i am not on a specific diet tho, i don't count how much i am eating, in fact i have to make sure to eat enough proteins, thats pretty much the only reason for me to eat stuff i don't like that much, but i just need it for body to regenerate. But i really look to eat healthy, just because i feel much better doing that, i enjoy some unhealthy food from time to time, but i just feel the difference if i don't eat that good for a couple of weeks, it is not about looks for me, they don't change so much that quickly, but it is a different feel, you don't feel as light footed, you feel the difference while you are working out, you just in general don't feel as much energy. And i think to this degree it is a good thing, but i see that it is thin ice, because it it just is not the more the better, and someone who actually gets obsessed with it is in danger to break through. Especially if looks are the reason, because we just have physical limits, and there are many who can not reach a certain goal, for example a certain body fat %, so much there is just genetics, but the obsessed will not want to realize that.

    About the working out, i don't know it just build up slowly for me, i started just to jog a little do some sports here and there, so it was like twice a week, i had phases where it was 3 or 4 times tho. But then i started to get more competitive and for 2-3 times practicing-playing with the time i spend another 2 times or so working on my cardio system and my muscle endurance, and then i got to the point where i found out i got to get faster and stronger, so i work out in a gym another 2-3 times a week.
    Well and it adds up. But then again i know guys who work out even more, who are on really tough diets and nobody would ever think they have an eating disorder.
     
  17. Bbucko

    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2006
    Messages:
    7,413
    Albums:
    1
    Likes Received:
    58
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Sunny SoFla
    This is a great topic, Hilly.

    Having lived with HIV for 26 years, I've experienced several bouts of wasting caused by the meds I've taken. Though I've lost enough facial fat to render older pix of me unrecognizable, most people I come into contact with didn't know me back then so they have no point of comparison, and to them I still look just fine. So fretting about it just seems like an exercise in self-pity, which I try to avoid, and have learned to accept the changes as part of my personal and unique aging process.

    The same wasting has effected my body, too. Most of the subcutaneous fat overlaying the muscles in my legs, arms, shoulders and abs is gone, and a minimal amount of maintenance keeps me looking like a lean, obsessive gym rat (which I most definitely am not). I get compliments all the time about the prominent vascularity of my arms and legs, especially at work where I'm dressed very minimally (discretion requests that I not disclose too much about that in a public forum, please) and they are constantly on display.

    When asked by the customers how I achieved such a lean and vascular look (especially at the age of 50), I usually evade and say something about watching my diet, but when pushed will explain the mechanics of lipoatrophy and express delight in never having developed a hump (another common side-effect from antiretrovirals) in an attempt to keeping things light.

    The upside is that I can wear clothing that is normally eschewed by guys my age (if they have any self-respect) because they fit me, and I've always thought that the first rule of fashion, before fabric and style, is cut and fit. Though I try and keep things simple: no rhinestones, for instance, or extreme low-rise jeans, I can and do wear skinny jeans and very slim-cut T-shirts. But finding my size is usually problematic, as there are so few size 28s here, and I refuse to wear boy's or women's jeans. I also have to avoid anything that even suggests an ass, as mine has pretty much completely melted away.

    There's a local bartender/model/celebutant about town here in SoFla named Paul Francis. When I first met him in 2004 in Ft Lauderdale, he was perhaps the most beautiful man whom I'd ever actually met and interacted with. He was lean but hardly skinny with a superb Latino-type ass and some meat on his shoulders and arms. His face was also much fuller. When he moved to South Beach he went on a rigorous regimen of grueling exercise and a very strict diet, losing 25 pounds (by his own admission) and is now nothing but lean muscle over bone. Without meaning to, he's achieved the long-term AIDS survivor look. I'm told that it's enhanced his marketability as a model, though I find him sickly. His ass is pretty much gone now, too :frown1:

    Bottom line: when I get complimented I'm gracious enough to thank them but downplay it, as to me it's not a sign of health but rather an indication of having lived long-term with a chronic and ultimately fatal condition. As a natural mesomorph, I'd much rather have my old body back; realistically, though, that's not gonna happen.
     
  18. D_Tim McGnaw

    D_Tim McGnaw Account Disabled

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2009
    Messages:
    7,317
    Likes Received:
    8

    I'm really glad you posted because I think you give a signal of what can happen to a lot of men. Like you I enjoy working out, it makes me feel good, it keeps me looking OK and it releases lots of happy hormones which keep me on an even keel. The problem can be that those benefits can be addictive.


    I used to be pretty over weight, and then I worked it all off, I got slightly addicted to the exercise myself and got really competitive with myself too. I got all the way down to about 4% body fat and was seriously skinny and cut and loved it but I began to notice that I was tired all the time, and it took longer to recover from training than it ought to have.

    I kind of knew what I was doing was bad for me so I stopped working out as often. I do plenty of cardio now because I'm getting beyond the age when I can afford not to, and resistance a couple of times a week.

    The point is I'm aware that I wont have a 28" waist and look skin and bones again, and I'm happy with that. If I was 18, I'm not sure I would find it so easy to resist the pressure to try look like one of the guys doing runway for Dior, Lanvin, or Jil Sander etc. I'm pretty certain in fact that I would be controlling my calories and working out far too much.


    The guys you know who're taking things to extremes, do you think they would recognise that they are damaging their bodies and are perhaps suffering with a body image issue?
     
    #18 D_Tim McGnaw, Jun 5, 2010
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2010
  19. D_Tim McGnaw

    D_Tim McGnaw Account Disabled

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2009
    Messages:
    7,317
    Likes Received:
    8


    Brilliant post Chrissie :wink: Thank you for your contribution.



    It's a pity but the guy you're talking about will indeed be far more commercial looking unhealthily wasted than robust and masculine.
     
  20. Lex

    Lex
    Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2004
    Messages:
    9,536
    Likes Received:
    16
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    In Your Darkest Thoughts and Dreams
    It cuts toward both extremes. I lift weights, but the bodybuilder physique is also nigh-unattainable. Professionals have been using steroids (including site-based muscle injections) for decades to achieve the desired look.

    The big secret that no fitness magazine will tell you: People who are really lean/thin or who are very muscular eat the SAME SHIT all the time. Their diets have little variety and are challenging to maintain (although, obviously, not impossible). I recently decided to gain some mass-- I went from around 200 to 208 by eating ~3300 calories a day. It was tough and sickening. I felt like I was gorging myself. You lose all joy of food doing this. Did I gain some muscle? Yes (and some more fat). Would I do it again? In the winter, maybe, to give myself time to lose some of the fat before summer. I won't say that every thin or VERY muscular guys has an eating disorder--I will say that it take a HIGH level of self-control to either greatly restrict or increase your caloric intake over your body's desires.

    Bbucko- as usual, your honesty floors me. And you look amazing! Mesomorph, huh? Wow.

    That bartender has a look that lets him model and makes him, to me, wholly unattractive (beyond his VERY handsome face). I like men with a little more meat on their bones.

    As far as vascularity goes, I have some in my arms naturally and have also gotten compliments. I don't try to look that way, I just do. I don't desire to purposefully look like I have NO fat or water in my body. Like you said, when I see someone with that look--Unless they are bodybuilder size and about to go onstage, I think--oh, he must be sick with the virus.

    Thanks for sharing such an awesome post, stud!
     
Draft saved Draft deleted