“Defining the New Male Ideal”

April 4, 2012 § Leave a comment


I found this very interesting article on CNN where it writes of the journey a personal trainer, Drew Manning takes to understand his clients better. From a sculpted muscular body, he stuffed himself with food and decided to gain 70 pounds. The before and after picture of him is shocking. However along with the weight, he realizes that he also gained more social stigma coming form the people around him. People stare at him at grocery stores and he himself has felt the social pressure of being overweight in a nation that idolizes six-pact men. We learned a lot in class in regards to how the media shapes the concerns for female body issues but rarely is the topic of the influences on men touched on.

“The female form has long been the topic of discussions about self-esteem, but what about men? Their ideas about weight, body image and self-esteem have been largely swept under the ambiguous rug of masculinity. Meanwhile, changing standards about the ideal male form can leave them overwhelmed and exhausted by the chase for perfection, too.”

The issue is not only because women never talk about it but men themselves never bring it up either. This is all perhaps because it is encouraged to be masked by the elusive idea of “masculinity”. “Men are still taught as boys that the body is something that is designed to be a perfectly performing machine, not something to be cared for and nurtured,” said Michael Addis, professor of psychology at Clark University and author of “Invisible Men.” “But men base self-esteem on body image and weight.” More and more men are continuing to hit the gym to chase the ideal and some of it the author attributes to the change in gender roles in the recent years. As females grow in economic power, men are no longer the sole breadwinners of the family and so the “stakes has been raised”. Although the new male ideal is more often the more natural look that comes from eating healthy and exercising regularly rather than the beefy type, men are constantly sent mixed messages by the media teaching them what is masculine and what is not. Alcohol and fast food for example mostly target men as their audience but yet still the ideal is for them to live up to this sculpted body ideal. In both genders, men and women fall prey of  the media’s ever contradicting messages of how we are supposed to be.

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