In Where the Girls Are, Susan Douglas argues that women of her generation in the 1950’s and 1960’s were expected to be both feminine and American, but mostly feminine. This was embodied in their outward appearance, and Douglas felt she “was supposed to be obsessively self-centered, scrutinizing every pore, every gesture, every stray eyebrow hair, eradicating every flaw, enhancing every asset, yet never letting anybody see me doing this” (28). Essentially, Douglas was supposed to be a walking contradiction that fit into an artificial, cultural mold.
Now, the cultural artifact video titled “Aesthetic Natural Bodybuilding Motivation-Fitness Aesthetics” reveals an unprecedented attention to detail regarding the male body. None of the featured fitness models talk during the entire video, they only work out and parade their sculpted, Greek god style bodies. The message embedded is one of severe self-discipline that will, over time, give one the perfect body.
Both Where the Girls Are and “Aesthetic Natural Bodybuilding Motivation-Fitness Aesthetics” expect their intended audience to fit a mold that is nearly impossible to achieve. The necessary self-scrutinizing to maintain such bodies is expected by those who already fit the mold, but the general public sees such actions as unnatural and freakish. These young women and men are caught between a rock and a hard place.
While I agree with both the text and video artifact, I feel that the body image issues relating to young men in the early 21st century are largely ignored, though increasingly rampant. Too many videos on YouTube espouse a lifestyle that severely restricts food in order to attain low body fat levels. Worse, the bodies shown in these videos are not natural, and require steroids to achieve. If a young man attempts these physiques naturally, he will only be disappointed and lose self-esteem, seeing himself as lesser than these idealized physiques. Do you think men are suffering more body image issues in this day and age?