The Perfect Male Body

Premium Membership, The Good Men Project

About Oliver Lee Bateman

Good Men Project contributing editor Oliver Lee Bateman is one of the founders of the Moustache Club of America and Penny & Farthing, two blogzines specializing in flash fiction and creative nonfiction that he co-curates with web developer Erik Hinton, medical consultant Nathan Zimmerman, and freelance writers Christie Chapman and J. R. Powell. He is a lawyer as well as an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Arlington. Follow him on Twitter @MoustacheClubUS or on Google+. Oliver's Spring 2014 US History From the Civil War to the Present course is being live-streamed by UTA. You can access these lectures by clicking here.


  1. If women always said the dress and use makeups not for men, just for themselves, I will say this too:

    I workout and lift weights not for women, just for myself. So I dont care if most girls said they dont like muscle and prefer chubby or skinny guys. I just feel more healthy, strong, comfortable, and confident in my fit and athletic bodies, so I workout.

  2. Josh Magill says:

    My wife says she “likes a man with meat on his bones,” but I know she wouldn’t mind me being thinner. I believe she is okay with the chubbier me to ward of the possibility of cheating. In my younger days, I was like John (above comment) working out for myself because I liked it, but it wasn’t with a lot of weights, more running. I hope to regain a slender, somewhat muscular frame once again, but not “hulkish.” Yet, to some that “hulkish” look gives them confidence. I have a cousin this way and I still respect him.

    • I also run, and swim, not just lifting. But I have to inform you, just lifting weights wont immediately turn you “hulkish” like bodybuilders. They take steroids and growth hormones, and they train hard for years to get that kind of body.

    • I dont think women like chubby men. They may just say that because their husbands happen to be chubby. But if the same woman were to cheat, it would probably be with a lean fit looking tall guy.

      I think there is only one type of male body that is genuinely desirable to women

  3. Great article, Oliver! This is a nice counterpoint to Arnie’s book…!

    I am dismayed when I read about all the powders and magic elixirs and supplements in all the fitness magazines I read daily while on the treadmill….I guess it is true that there is “a sucker born every minute”….

    I agree with John’s comments above…fitness sometimes starts with something simple as just the basics and building a daily routine…little steps can lead to bigger steps later….My father’s best friend in HK used to live in the same building as Bruce Lee many, many years ago…and he used to see him do his kung fu exercises every morning in the parking lot….

  4. I’ve never ubderstood the appeal if the freakishly oversized body builders. It seems like a disorder. The same way anorexics see emaciated bodies with hollow cheeks and protruding bones as beautiful, so too body builders must see these inflated cartoonish bodies as gorgeous representations of an ideal form.

    • The thing is, making their body “appealing” is not the aims of bodybuilders, especially the hardcores and professionals. Its hard to explain. If you follow bodybuilding scene, all those top bodybuilders have massive fan base, mostly males. Its like a football club. They compete in stage and win lots of money. That’s why I never think of bodybuilding as a beauty contest, because its not. Its a sport. It never aims to create “hot” or “sexy” body to make women lust, not. And you would never understand the appeal of it if youre not into it yourself.

      • Yeah, bodybuilding is a sport… well, a competition, at least. Like figure skating, at least. In power-lifting I get judged on if I squatted, bench pressed or dead lifted more than the other guys in my weight class and in judo I get judged on if I completed more valid throws on a guy (or got lucky and scored ippon). In bodybuilding a guy works hard on size, thickness and symmetry of his muscles to impress judges based on those qualities like a figure skater or gymnast works to impress based on his or her routines.

  5. Oliver Lee Bateman says:

    Here are two quotes that I left out of the original piece, but which are fascinating nonetheless:

    “While the swimmer and the bicyclist shave to cut down on drag, on air or water resistance, the bodybuilder shaves to make sure his body is seen without obstruction. His performance lies in being looked at, ogled, appraised. For these modern-day coxcombs, using the theatricality of the street as their backdrop, the stare is the ultimate reward. It’s a reversal of sex roles, with the builder taking a traditionally female role: body as object. To be ‘buff’ or ‘buffed’ means literally polished–not like people but furniture. Every movement of the bodybuilder is a self-conscious presentation and display. Take the distinctive and dramatic walk of the bodybuilder, the weightlifter’s waddle of muscles on parade. With the elbows held wide from the body, thighs spread far apart, the walk is as stylized, as preening, as a model’s flounce down the runway.”
    Samuel Fussell, “Bodybuilder Americanus” (Fussell is the guy in the first bodybuilding picture in the piece, and the link on his name leads you to this article)

    “There is a curiously asexual quality discernable in the advanced muscularity of the bodybuilder’s physique and it could be argued that this is a central element in the symbolic language of the developed body. It is not so much that the body is here devoid of sexual connotations, as that it combines in a unique fashion elements of both male and female sexuality.”
    Kenneth Dutton, “The Perfectible Body”

    Gilbert Martinez’s art makes this point, too: (NSFW)


  1. [...] “juicer” with a body of immense proportions, McMahon was inspired by the work of Joe Weider’s International Federation of Bodybuilders to create a roster of pumped-up strongmen with made-up (and trademarked) names and superpowers.4 [...]

  2. [...] Read more posts in this series:  Joe Weider and the Creation of the Perfect Male Body [...]

  3. […] by McGraw.  Male and female bodies can be attractive at any size, and anything that smacks of a Joe Weider-ian “house style”–even one partially selected by women–ought to be challenged and criticized.  For a […]

Speak Your Mind