Trigger warning for mentions of eating disorders.
Feminists have long sounded the alarm about the dangers of supermodels, starving themselves underweight and Photoshopped to perfection, causing bad body image in young girls, which may lead to anorexia or bulimia. However, a recent article by Express has suggested that men may be falling victim to an equal and opposite body image problem: that of the fitness model.
Fitness models are presented as an ideal reached through eating right, exercising and generally living a healthy lifestyle. However, to reach the perfect, camera-ready body, most fitness models endure a perverse regimen that leaves them far frailer than even the average man, much less an ordinary fit man. They are so weak they are often completely unable to stand up or speak, and it may even be fatal.
That’s far from the picture of fitness the magazines present.
Unrealistic body ideals leading to poor body image for everyone? This is not the gender equality we’re looking for.
And the consequences for men may be terrible. The rate of plastic surgery among men has been rising; eating disorders among men, especially “muscle dysmorphia” (commonly known as bigorexia), have become more common; steroid use may cause health problems and even death.
Organizations like Operation Beautiful have campaigned to increase girls’ body image; awareness has been raised of the signs and symptoms of anorexia in women. However, there isn’t an equal effort to raise awareness of male body issues. Between the Myth of Men Not Being Hot and the unrealistic bodies promulgated by fitness models, men are trapped between a rock and a hard body, and there may not be a way out.