The Male Body Image is 
a-changing

The male body image is undergoing some drastic changes. Ideas about the metrosexual male are affecting how mens bodies are viewed. Changes are leading to men becoming progressively more concerned not just about their health, but about their physical appearance. It's also leading to more male weigh loss plans than ever before. However, just as diets have not worked for women, they don't work for men either. 

Dieting changes body composition and weight regain is what commonly occurs as dieting affects metabolism.  It's not difficult to see why these male body image changes are taking place. It has to do with the changing cultural ideas men are being exposed to and what is portrayed as the ideal body shape and size by the media. The beauty revolution (for both men and women) is an ever-changing one because it's impacted on by magazines, movie and tv images, and other cultural paraphernalia.

Let's take a look at how the depiction of male body image has changed over time.


A historical perspective on male beauty and the changing male body image

If we follow important milestones in standards for male beauty, we see that in the:

1960’s: gym chains began. By the 1990's 'working' out was a big thing along with exercise bulimia, and in the case of men, the more common Adonis Complex (Bigorexia).

1970’s: cosmetic surgery of the penile-lengthening variety was performed, Playgirl magazine was launched, Stallone’s movie ‘Rocky’ was a hit and the Chippendales hit the scene

1980’s: Schwarzenegger as Conan the Barbarian and Stallone as Rambo became hero’s, Calvin Klein begins 'underwear and cologne' campaigns aimed at men. The Body Shop launched a range of male cosmetics, penile-widening surgery is introduced and Men’s fitness and Men’s Health magazines were published.

Wonder what some of our yesterday's hero's look like today?

1990’s: it’s obvious that advertisements, movies, and magazines feature progressively more shirtless and muscular men and computer games and toys for boys feature enormously bulked up figurines, and there are vastly more body-building products found on our shelves. Photo-shopping the male image to become even bulkier becomes the norm. And heaven help you if you're a naturally too thin guy who can't gain weight and who doesn't fit the cultural ideal.

2000's: The metrasexual male spawns entire new product ranges. Fashion for men, male body and beauty products are endorsed by sportsmen and other male role models. Creating products to help improve a negative body image is a fast growing market. 

In previous years male body image was less important because how men valued themselves was by different criteria: their career, their status and their earnings. But since women have entered the workplace and started competing with men for top positions, the new arena for men to compete and value themselves is in the body beautiful stakes.  And photoshopping the male images in glamour magazines is huge, whereas women are slimmed down, men are bulked up.

And, with the rare exception, as I discovered when I visited a clothing optional resort, men were initially almost always more comfortable going naked than women.

Male Body Image and the
Metrasexual Male

In line with this… ideas that men shouldn’t care about their physical appearance are a thing of the past. In previous generations, while it was unacceptable for women to be fat, it used to be acceptable for a man to stand around the barberque with a beer belly hanging out – but no more!

In the past only women and 'sissy' men used beauty and body products. But with the advent of the metrasexual male, male role models like Andre Agassi use skincare, fragrances and so on and a whole new industry of beauty products for men has sprung up around this change. 

And along with these changes in male body image follows an almost inevitable change: there is more dieting for men! Dieting is NEVER the way to go - it'll only get you stuck decent in a never ending weight cycle. 

Increasingly though men are also realizing that weight loss myths abound, and that there aren't diets that work and that they don't want to belong to the 'no pain, no gain' gang and turning to being body-wise and intuitive eating as ways to take care of their bodies.


Jes Baker - hear her roar!


Cari is a health tonic:  a dose of her wisdom and you’ll feel better for life.

Shape Magazine (SA)

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