How the Media Distorts Male Self-Perception
Women are insecure. They constantly diet and scrutinize their bodies. They fall victims to the anorexically thin models appearing in the media. Why do men have it so easy? For years these questions are what women asked themselves. In a world where appearance is everything, women have been the main source of all the hype concerning the image and body. Advertisements have been criticized for years about putting the pressures of the “perfect” body into the heads of millions of women. Up until a few years ago, it was believed that only women had the eyes of society on them. Now the scales are balancing. More men are beginning to feel pressured, by the same society, to have a muscular body and to portray a perfect male image. However, some men are taking this pressure to the extremes. The media is having a negative effect on the way men view their bodies making them feel as if they need to look like the models shown, which can often result in muscle dysmorphia.
Through exposure to the media, primarily advertisements and movies, the physical appearance of the male body has drastically changed, from barely seeing the torso to men in their briefs. In past decades, the male body was portrayed in a “rugged” sort of way (Luciano 4). It didn’t matter how many muscles the man had or the degree of atonement, but the way that the man carried himself. He was his own seller in a busy market. If he wanted to appear tough and manly, the way he presented and carried himself would make all the difference. For example, in the first two Rocky films, Rocky, played by Sylvester Stallone, is “beefy” yet buff (Law). He is the idol of women portrayed as a boxer who, even without extravagant muscles, still manages to win the “big fight.” However, by the third Rocky movie, Stallone’s body has morphed into a “chiseled” abdomen fit to be a washboard. This transformation exhibits how society changed in its perspective on physical appearance. This marked the beginning of men’s desire for what women had been calling the “perfect” body. Before World War II, money was not lavishly spent on the perfection of the body (Luciano 11). After the return of the soldiers, men had more money as women retained their postwar jobs. With women making substantially larger paychecks, men had the ability to spend more time and money to make themselves look like the models displayed in the media. With the new advertisements by Calvin Klein, such as the Mark Wahlberg, also known as Marky Mark, steamy ads for men’s briefs, the appearance of male bodies has intensified (Luciano 112). More and more men, now with the monetary means of looking good, are trying to achieve perfection with their bodies. They want to have the same bodies as those shown in the advertisements and, at times, will not stop until they have reached that goal (Grogan 95).
As exposure to the male body...