Body Image: Today’s Gallery Theme
Body image in teens and early twenties kids has had a bit of a bad press recently. Girl models ‘obliged’ to slim down until they are bulimic in order to get work, and still skeleton-like girls appear in fashion ads, despite a general outcry.
Now it’s the boys, but it works in two ways.
The first way is the same as the girls – a drive for an ever more ‘ripped’ image, or – perhaps following bullying of somewhat overweight kids – a determination to ‘win back’ respect from peers by going on a starvation diet, skipping meals, and so forth. According to an article I found over the weekend, there are as many boys over-dieting as girls these days.
Of course, some are lost causes, especially where family example rules. Visit any McDonalds (or similar) – you’ll see what I mean as families waddle in for their Sunday lunches of their usual burgers, fries and sodas. Yeeeuch!
The second way in which boys are obsessing about body image is not new, but is also apparently increasing. This is obviously a different population of boys, who become hooked on bodybuilding to obsessive levels, are never satisfied, become depressed, take to supplements and in some cases to drugs. This way leads to madness, in our view, although there are bodybuilders in our private gym setup who are never out of the gym except when forced to work, and are certainly at the supplement stage as one overhears conversations about which supplement is best, and so forth.
Not all of the obsessives go for huge muscle, though. An example of this is a Latino friend called Carlos, for whom his body image is his life. Unmarried, apparently uninterested in either sex, he works as a roofer, topping up his tan all day, spends several hours in the gym toning up his already ripped self, then returns to his spartan apartment which contains more gym equipment than furniture, where he exercises some more before bed, rises early for more weights, leaves for work… I guess he eats, but it is difficult to figure out when, although his furniture does include a table and one chair. I have written about him in my books (which take you up to about 2005) and, eleven years later, he’s still there, same obsessive routine. We did however push him in the direction of modelling, figuring out that he ought to put his hard-won ripped body to good use, and he is still into that. More about the books, by the way, by clicking on the covers shown here!
It wasn’t just the article that put this into my head. Leo’s best friend Chris has a brother (Billy) who is 20 now and seriously into bodybuilding as a teen champion. Another of Leo’s friends, Jude, a Canadian (and openly gay) 14yo, is similarly into hard-core lifting and has been befriended by Billy in the gym. All of which is fine, except that Billy’s dad, my friend Steve, is getting seriously worried that Billy will take to steroids, and maybe pull others like Jude into the game with him. Billy has failed to hold down a reasonable job, preferring to be in the gym which, as Steve points out, doesn’t make money and doesn’t make sense either. Billy has no long-term plan beyond becoming ever bigger and bulkier.
Guys, this is NOT the way. This blog is here to promote fitness. We lift, we exercise through acrobatics and wrestling (for which we need strength and flexibility, not size), but it cannot become such an obsession. There’s ‘real life’ out there too and, since you only have one life (and no-one gets out of this alive!) – make the most of it! Explore ALL your options. I would never recommend anyone to obsess about lifting in the way that Carlos or Billy do… enjoy spending time with the guys in the gym, yes (and we do, especially as the gym is gay-friendly and we’re…well… attracted to guys, so we like to see their bodies hard at work with their shirts off)… but it cannot take over your life because, if it does, there will be a high risk that it will all end badly.
I know this sounds a bit dark – but keep it all in proportion, that’s all.
Speaking of ‘dark’, most of the images so far are indeed a little dark, so let’s add a few brighter ones now! Still appreciating the male body, but keeping everything in proportion:
By the way, note the chest hair on that last boy, Lars. Some guys feel they have to obsessively shave their chests (or each others) in order to appeal to prospective partners. Our mate Zach, who has sported similar chest hair to Lars ever since we have performed together as acrobats, has always said he wants to shave it off because it would put the audience off. Of course it didn’t, because it is not excessive, and indeed Dave and I (and the rest) have all grown a bit of hair there over the years too. And anyway, if Dave or any of my trusted gay partners shaved their chests, it would become all bristly, wouldn’t it?
So don’t obsess about hairy chests – or even backs (which most guys feel is much worse!). It’s your body – it’s unique, so be yourself! Here’s another splendidly ‘built’ and slightly hairy chest:
So there we are: nineteen fit young guys with great proportions (and one left to come), bodies to be proud of certainly, but in no obvious way ‘obsessive’. Just remember: it’s the only body you’ve got, so take care of it. Exercise regularly and remember too that “you are what you eat” – and if your diet is greasy fry-ups, burgers in buns with fries on the side and sugary carbonated drinks, then you know what you’ll be! ‘Fighting fit’, like this last guy, would maybe be a better choice.