For men, the new study suggests, the real problem isn’t a thin ideal—it’s a muscular one. “Girls are supposed to be thin and have small waistlines,” Trine Tetlie Eik‐Nes, a co-author of the paper and an associate professor at the Norwegian University for Science and Technology, says in a statement. “Boys should have wide shoulders and big muscles. Those are the narrow ideals that young people grow up with today. It turns out that this unrealistic body image is as challenging for men as for women.”
Jesse Hicks, TONIC
I think that a lot of men feel the pressure of being 'jacked'. Especially gay men. Wanna bet? Just take a look at the displays on any hookup app and you'll see a sea of perfectly chiseled physiques staring at you from different angles. Everybody seems to have zero percent body fat, nice pecs and huge biceps. Everybody!
So where do you start? I don't really have all that time (or discipline) to dedicate to going to the gym and seeing an instructor. I barely do my walking and ten pushups when I remember. And those bodies require dedication: a daily exercise routine and a strict diet are paramount. You cannot get that V shape without doing bars. You can't get that chest without some dumbbells. You can't get that stomach without swearing off sugar and starch and salt and sticking to protein and water.
Then how come I am so different to the men staring at me from every gay rag? From the computer screen? If that's what 'gay' looks like, then I'm not officially worthy of "gay". Because I don't have that shoulder-waist ratio. My t-shirt sleeves are not pumped up. My chest is not that wide and solid. I don't have visible cum gutters. So how do I survive competing with all those buff torsos on those apps and magazines?
I think it gets harder and harder fighting that homogenized and almost impossible to reach goal of perfection, especially when you're supposed to be attractive to other men. I still want some cheesecake once in awhile. A gym membership and and a trainer cost money. I would rather go to a museum or a lecture than to the gym, to be frank. And I'm not 18 and I can't eat everything I want and still keep a 30 inch waist.
So do I give up on being attractive according to the gospel of St. Gay? I find the all-or-nothing-scenario kind of baffling. When I go out I do see beautiful men who look just like those guys on Grindr or on the cover of Attitude or Grab. But I also see tons of guys who look pretty much like me. Who do THEY date? Oh, I see, apparently everybody wants to date 'up'? The buff guys only want to date other buff guys and the average guys want to date buff guys. So who dates the average guys?
But the pressure is on. Should we submit to it and go and try to become our own version of David according to Michelangelo? Apparently a body that's just average is not enough for many gay men. Are we also going to fall into the trap so many women have fallen and cut out pages of magazines to make a vision board with everything we want our bodies to be? Do we starve ourselves to get that waist-shoulder ratio? Do we exercise six hours a day?
I think I'm going to chill. Those bodies I'm sure owe some of that beauty to genetics that I don't possess. Those men also probably enjoy going to the gym more than going let's say to the theater. They also are probably more used to eating six roasted chicken breasts (no skin) with broccoli a day than myself and they probably can do without chocolate covered cherries. But I'm not them. They are not me. Maybe I don't have to follow the rules dictated by some magazines and porn companies. What I'll do is that I'll let those models be as beautiful as they can be and I'll just sit and enjoy the view. What the hell. I'm reasonable healthy, I still can wear my favorite jeans and I enjoy doing things that do not involve sweating for hours in a gym. I guess we have to work with what we have. I may not have a six pack, but I can write a whole blog post talking about body image. Choices.