About 3 or 4 years ago I used to subscribe to Mens Health magazine. At the time I was quite heavily into working out, attending the gym about 3 times a week. I also made sure I tried to eat as well as possible cutting out as many bad foods as I could. Now if you’ve never seen a picture of me I’m a typical ectomorph body type; skinny and I find it hard to put on weight, although it has been a tiny bit easier since I hit 26. As any other ectomorph has probably experienced I regularly receive comments about ‘how lucky’ I am because I can eat whatever I want. But the problem is I don’t see it that way or at least I didn’t. In the past and on occasion now I’ve seen it as a burden. You’re probably thinking I’m crazy especially if you’re female as being able to eat what you want and not gain weight is something most women would love. That brings me to the point of this article body image and men, how do they relate? What is the adonis complex?
For years we’ve been aware of the way the media bombards women with impossibly perfect girls in magazines, films and Television. The media’s contribution to creating this ‘perfect’ female image has often been criticised for contributing to the rise of eating disorders in women.
However, women are not on their own. Experts now argue that the media is also having a similar impact on men. While women often suffer from anorexia or bulimia men suffer in a different number of ways;
- Worrying they’re too small so they work out in order to try and achieve that ‘ideal physique’.
- Binge eating on junk food then going to the gym after for 4 – 5 hours straight to work it off.
- Over exerting themselves, training 3 – 4 hours a day. Resulting in injuries.
- In extreme circumstances fasting, dehydration and steroid abuse.
Putting all the expert advice to one side for a moment and looking at it through my own eyes, I can relate. I mean looking at the images in Mens Health was enough to drive me to try and aspire to get a 6 pack and big arms and pecs. But it didn’t stop there, the more I think about it well sculpted guys are popping up all over and perpetuating that idea of the masculine image. Off the top of my head I can think of Cristiano Ronaldo advertising Armani underwear and before him there was David Beckham. I also remember David Gandy in a TV advert for D&G men’s fragrances. Then you have films where at any given opportunity the male lead will whip off his top revealing a muscular frame.
Now this is where fuel is added to the fire and both men and women are guilty of this. I’m pretty sure most people have seen the Armani adverts or at least a movie where a guy takes his top off. For any ladies reading I’m pretty sure some of you have passed comment at such a point maybe in ear shot of a guy, cue “He’s so hot, look at his body” or “Phworrr” etc. For the guys I’m sure you’ve heard women passing comment on such advertisements and film/TV scenes. When you hear those sorts of comments how does it make you feel? Again this is not a one way street as guys pass comment on women in magazines and film/TV all the time, cue “She’s well fit” etc. Again for any ladies reading what do you think when you hear these sorts of comments?
But what this does is create insecurities in each other. We all want to be attractive and these comments help endorse that skewed perception of beauty. While we are quick to point the finger at the media we also have to take some responsibility ourselves as our words give power to the images we see.
The key is to address these issues as many men would never express any anxieties about their body’s for fear of being labelled effeminate. We also have to learn that being successful and attractive is so much more than just having a muscular physique.
Coming back to myself, after looking into male body issues I have to admit I probably have suffered from an adonis complex at some point in the past and still do from time to time. I would still encourage anyone who wants to build a better image to do some sort of exercise purely for the health benefits. But as with most things in life it’s all about balance, don’t over indulge and don’t be sucked into the media’s perception of attractiveness.
How do you feel about your own body image?
Do you feel a pressure from the media or other people to be a certain size or shape?
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