Posted by: 4pack | December 5, 2008

“Ideal Shape” Update: Daniel Craig And Hugh Jackman Represent The “AbDeal”

DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY OGGIES…IDEL SHAPE IS ALL ABOUT EXPOSED RECTUS ABDOMINIS MUSCLES…IT IS THE IDEAL…AND IT REPRESENTS HEALTH..READ BELOW….

danielcraighughjackman

Ads are abs, from department store catalogue, to aftershave advertisement, to the new Calvin Klein billboard on William Street. That undie maker exposed Marky Mark’s stomach muscles back in the ’90s, and is still banging on about them. Men’s Health remains fixated with cover men with more muscles than any human could possibly need. And for Australia, Jackman spent ridiculous hours in the gym to look like a 1940s washboard, rather than a 1940s drover.

http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/hope-for-blokes-who-havent-the-stomach-for-the-abs-fad/2008/12/05/1228257316548.html

For modern men, hyper-muscularity is it. It used to be enough to be slim, athletic or rugged, but to be thought hot now, Joe needs a chest and six-pack – the abs, not the beer.

Think Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman, but also, increasingly, the bloke next door. And those blokes with abs proudly display them on the beach, in nightclubs and at music festivals. As the techno DJ Muscles mocks in his track Ice Cream: “I don’t need a number/I just wanna dance with my shirt off”. Meanwhile, the ab-less lie their beach towels far, far away, and make do with dancing in ironic T-shirts.

The body beautiful became an everyday expectation a while ago – about the time sportsmen went professional, and morphed into underwear models and calendar boys. Their beachside recovery sessions turned the sports pages into soft-core porn, and made the rest of us look bad.

No wonder. Ads are abs, from department store catalogue, to aftershave advertisement, to the new Calvin Klein billboard on William Street. That undie maker exposed Marky Mark’s stomach muscles back in the ’90s, and is still banging on about them. Men’s Health remains fixated with cover men with more muscles than any human could possibly need. And for Australia, Jackman spent ridiculous hours in the gym to look like a 1940s washboard, rather than a 1940s drover.

As we strive to become Adonis, the standards become less obtainable. Compare the body of Craig, the latest Bond, to that of the first, Sean Connery. Unpack your wife’s collection of Playgirl magazines and it’s the same story. In 2000, a study of 115 centrefold male models in that magazine between 1973 and 1997 found they had become more muscular over time. They were hardly fatties to start with.

I’ve been thinking about this because three friends are back from Europe, and their observations raised the salivating prospect – at least, for those who’ve yet to obtain bodily perfection – that we’re on the cusp of a new epoch for the ideal men’s body.

They report a rise of notable bellies in London and Barcelona, the owners of which work at being hot, think themselves hot, and are considered hot, not in spite of their small protrusions, but partly because of them.

Where Europe goes, Australia hopefully will follow, and there are precedents for changing standards of male beauty. Take women, for a start. The hourglass once was hot, and now it’s not. Breasts were once suppressed, now they’re augmented.

But also, men. A colleague was recently thumbing through the International Journal Of Impotence Research, as one does, when she came across: “Penile size and penile enlargement surgery: a review”. “Penile size is a considerable concern for men of all ages,” it began. “Throughout history, the penis has defined masculinity.” So far, so obvious. Then its authors turned to ancient Greece: paintings and writings as early as 200BC suggest they believed smaller was superior. Unfortunately for the under-endowed, the halcyon days didn’t last. “Over the course of time, with the various sexual revolutions, this belief has changed and for most men, larger is better.”

So stranger things have happened than this possible relaxation of the abs obsession. Does this mean we will see the rise of the taught-ish tum? The restrained mono-ab? The small porch over the tool shed?

Fat chance. In Sydney at least, the evidence is scant. There’s Pat Rafter, who’s been a Bonds body since 2002, despite being decidedly un-Chesty. He’s more athletic than muscled, or as one Bonds executive said when the company hired him, he’s “natural”. And he would not have been considered if he hadn’t been a tennis champion.

The Herald recently reported the results of a qualitative study of 200 young straight men. It found 82 per cent of them wished they were more muscular. The study’s author, Marika Tiggemann, said: “Clearly it is not a small sub-group of pathologically narcissistic men who experience dissatisfaction with these body parts, but a substantial proportion.”

The respondents also stressed about hairy backs and hairy bums and, yes, penis size. Two-thirds were worried about those bits, but four-fifths were worried about muscles. Professor Tiggemann reported that it was so common for men to worry about muscles, she compared it with the supposed truism that all women worry about their weight.

There is some hope from Tiggemann’s study: the 18 per cent who did not wish to be more muscular. Either they think they’re muscled enough, or have some rare Zen-chill thing going on, relaxed with their bodies in spite of images of Jackman, Craig and rugby league calendar boys such as Nick Youngquest.

This is no push for plus-size pride; anti-obesity activists are still right – men shouldn’t let it all hang out. But surely when we get four in every five young men expressing signs of body angst, when we build muscles for display purposes only, when we lift weights just to pick up, or go anywhere near Bondi, the muscle madness has gone too far.

Most Western cultures have an infatuation with muscled men, and Sydney has a particularly bad case of it. But those European bellymen – the ones with stomachs, but without angst – may know something the rest of us don’t seem to get. They know perfect cookie-cutter body sameness, despite all the effort, is rather dull.

Men, let out your belts – just a notch. Be one of the 18 per cent, relaxed, confident and comfortable in your own skin.

Now, that’s attractive.

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