Men are subject to issues concerning body image as much as
women. Currently, two competing body types dominate the pages
of GQ and Men's Health. The first is a slender, sculpted,
almost feminine look (think Brad Pitt); the second is a pumped-up
but still low-fat physique (think Nicolas Cage). Both images
differ greatly from past ideals of male perfection; not so
long ago, the manliest men in popular culture were burly,
barrel-chested, even hairy. Think of John Wayne in the '40s,
Burt Lancaster in the '50s, Steve McQueen in the '60s, Burt
Reynolds in the '70s these guys probably couldn't even
point out their deltoids, never mind sculpt them. But this
indifference to their appearance only made them sexier.
came the '80s, the decade of aerobics, jogging, tofu
and two ubiquitous advertising campaigns featuring male bodies.
The Soloflex guy and the Calvin Klein underwear model represented
a whole new breed of man. Their bodies, precursors to the Pitt
and Cage looks, were hairless and lean, feminized and decidedly
men were eyeing those diamond-hard abdominals and thinking
that maybe, with enough time in the gym, they too could get
lean, cut, and muscular. It's said that women dress to impress
other women. Interestingly, men work out to impress other
men. Bodybuilders and triathletes have indicated that looking
good is an important aspect of sport. The average guy, of
course, can no more shape his torso into Marky Mark's than
the average gal can whip herself into Cindy Crawford. But
suddenly men were presented with a demanding ideal that seemed
achievable through hard work.
effects are taking their toll on young males as well. A 1998
study* by the University of Minnesota found that boys as young
as 10 are taking illegal steroids to do better in sports or
actively surfing bodybuilding websites and asking for advice
on steroid use. Red flags go up when boys who haven't even
reached puberty are developing serious body image problems.