Body hatred: not just for fat chicks anymore

The New York Times has an article today about the shrinking of the male fashion model. Apparently, instead of aspiring to Tyson Beckford or Brad Pitt in Troy bulkiness, male models must now take after their female counterparts, staying just as tall but getting thinner and thinner. Now, as we all know, it is basically impossible for one individual to move from one body type to another (Christian Bale aside), so there is a legitimate concern here that, as female models often do, male models may be pressured to use dangerous weight-loss tactics in order to gain some kind of job security.

Now, this is a legitimate concern, and the article raises some interesting questions. But this is an article about models, so someone’s body has to be described in disgusted, horrified terms. Otherwise, how would we know which bodies are good and others are bad?! We might all, I don’t know, try to accept the kind of bodies we already have! We can’t have that, even among men who are considered handsome enough to be models, because check it out — they’re, like, so skinny! Ew!

I know for a fact that I’m extra -sensitive to the skinny-dude bashing, because I happen to have a male partner who (apparently) has near-model proportions (6’1″, 155, with, incidentally, a “normal” BMI of 20.4 — funny that the NYT writes an article about how dangerously skinny men are with a normal BMI, whereas female models have to literally starve before the mainstream media get talking… but that’s for another post, I suppose). It can be hard for him to find clothes that fit, because men’s clothes are often structured under the assumption that you’ve got a beefcake chest and not-too-short, not-too-long arms (as I’m sure many Shapelings of various sizes know). Anyway, what I’m trying to say is I’ve got this skinny guy who I think is damn sexy, and we eat a lot of the same meals and get similar amounts of exercise, and, apart from the fact that he could be a model and I couldn’t, he’s got the kind of body being described in this article.

The kind of body being described like this:

thin to the point of resembling stick figures

the man of the moment is an urchin, a wraith or an underfed runt

even those inured to the new look were flabbergasted at the sheer quantity of guys who looked chicken-chested, hollow-cheeked and undernourished

all anyone wanted to cast was the scrawny kid who looked like he got sand kicked in his face

“At that point you might as well save money and just go over to the boy’s department,”

“No one wants a beautiful women or a beautiful man anymore.”

“People are afraid to look over 21 or make any statement of what it means to be adult,”

men whose bodies were suited to a scarecrow silhouette

the designers are not looking for a male image anymore. They’re looking for some kind of androgyne.”

Got it? These are not men, let alone beautiful men: they’re androgynes, little boys, scarecrows, runts — stick figures, not even human. You could beat them up, unless of course you are skinny yourself, in which case you can expect some sand kicked in your face any day now.

How are men supposed to look, I wonder?

a buff 6-footer with six-pack abs

movie star looks and porn star physiques

The big, great looking models

Male Shapelings, I hope you’re paying attention. Don’t be fat, but for god’s sake don’t be skinny. Great-looking men look like porn stars. If you happen to be fat or skinny, well, you’re not a man at all.

There are a lot of cultural forces at play here, obviously — there’s a clear undercurrent of misogyny in this article’s disgust at “androgynous” men, who are all skinny (like women are supposed to be). There’s basically the whole homosocial spectrum being enacted: we like huge, buff, manly guys (but we don’t like them like them) and we hate guys who might be a little faggy. There’s also the sense that it’s just! not! fair! that men have to be put through the same pressures that women go through (which it isn’t, of course, but why not try to eliminate body image pressures for everyone?). And of course, despite all that, there’s a glamorization of the world of models and the lengths that people have to go to to look the way they do.

I am just so sick of this shit. When members of the mainstream media write on obesity, eating disorders, body image, and the like by serving up a heaping pile of shame with the news, they are complicit in the problem they pretend to be reporting. We need a language for our bodies that is not shot through with hatred. We need to check the spread of shame and self-hatred, not spread it to an ever-widening range of “imperfect” bodies.

Attention, skinny guys: welcome to the world of outlawed bodies. Our doors are always open, and we’ve got the best donuts.

100 thoughts on “Body hatred: not just for fat chicks anymore

  1. This is interesting, because I’m a gay man who likes either buff or wirey younger guys. I don’t much care for the waifish look of a lot of male models mostly because it just looks so…contrived. Plus someone who looks like they’re starving to death isn’t presenting something that’s appealing because it suggests deprivation and sickness. The skinny guys I find attractive generally have some visible (however faintly) pectoral (chest) muscles and aren’t so skinny that they look like they’re being deprived. It helps if they have medium-largish feet and hands and nicely shaped butts. (Sorry to go into the sort of detail that sounds almost objectifying; there’s this one nineteen-year-old man where I work of whom I’m thinking right now. };-D> )

  2. And here’s the thing about this article, along with possibly making making naturally thin men feel like they are Teh Fugly there’s also a serious lack of compassion.

    I always hate this in celebrity reporting. When someone actually does have an eating disorder, you don’t attack them for it.

    And of course, this goes back to making size a moral issue where fat people are the failures and to be skinny is to be moral upright and to succeed in self-restraint. If someone is thinner than you then they might be interpreted as being better than you, and so you have to make it clear that they cheated somehow. That they must be anorexic or something. They got surgery, so it doesn’t count! They just throw it up afterwards, so their thin doesn’t actually make them better!

    Which is so fucked up I don’t even know where to start.

    But it’s absolutely real. It’s so common an occurrence to hear “OMG You know she totally throws everything up later” as an attack that it’s sick. If that’s really true, if that person really is starving his or herself or throwing everything up, then that’s not a moral failing, or cheating – it’s sad. And they need help. Not you attacking them for it. Not you calling them ugly or hollow-cheeked or androgyne (what is wrong with androgynous features, anyway?).

  3. Plus someone who looks like they’re starving to death isn’t presenting something that’s appealing because it suggests deprivation and sickness.

    Wow, Loveandlight, did you read the part of the post where I said, you know, anything? Look: yes, someone who is depriving themselves of food — someone who is actually starving to death — is not going to look well. But that’s not because they’re skinny, it’s because they’re starving. Not all skinny people are starving, and not all starving people are skinny.

  4. Sorry to go into the sort of detail that sounds almost objectifying

    Actually, there’s no “almost” about it. It’s just objectifying.

    Which is all right on the one hand — we’ve had entire threads devoted to drooling over Alan Rickman here, after all. But just keep in mind that attraction is totally subjective, and what turns you on doesn’t tell us anything except that it’s what turns you on.

    As SM says, she finds her “waifish” guy dead sexy, and undoubtedly plenty of other people would, too. That’s the great thing about attraction being subjective — something for everyone! But oppressive beauty standards are imposed on us precisely because so many people think that what THEY find attractive is the gold standard for attractiveness, period. That’s simply not the case, and pretending it is causes a lot of harm.

  5. Amazing … I just read the article and came right over here and you’d already nailed it, of course. You guys are sooooo awesome.

  6. Yeah, the “androgyne” line made me roll my eyes. I’ve dated really skinny guys before, and one in particular was always feeling like he had to make up for being skinny and short in other “mannish” ways. Which made him into a little bit of a jerk (which is why I’m not with him anymore). But you know, I understand why he was like that, and he was ALWAYS trying to gain weight. He’d lift weights, drink weight gain, down huge plates of pasta and eat shakes of ice cream, chocolate, bananas, and peanut butter (yuck!), just to gain weight. It was really hard on him, and hard to see him go through that. It’s just as bad as the pressure put on women to lose weight (interestingly, I was on a diet the same time he was trying to bulk up…our cabinets were filled with weird, Opposite Land food).

  7. The fine line ideal of “the perfect body” just keeps getting finer and finer. Soon, nobody will fit.

  8. and not all starving people are skinny.

    That part I didn’t know. Like most people, I’ve had the idea that if you can see their rib-cage structure or their arms look “bony”, there’s something wrong. I suppose that isn’t really different from somebody automatically assuming that I’m going to keel over from congestive heart failure on the very day of my 50th birthday just because I’m about 100 pounds overweight.

  9. Penguinlady, nobody DOES fit. The standards change as soon as someone slips into the mold. Especially for women.

    Who wants to buy an island with me? We can screen residents like a HOA. No tabloid, entertainment, or FOX reporters allowed.

  10. The fine line ideal of “the perfect body” just keeps getting finer and finer. Soon, nobody will fit.

    And yet people will keep trying and trying to fit that ideal, not noticing (or pretending not to notice) that it’s an impossible standard. Which then makes me wonder: when will the switch flip and people suddenly realize what a complete line of horseshit we’re being fed? Will it ever flip?

  11. I suppose that isn’t really different from somebody automatically assuming that I’m going to keel over from congestive heart failure on the very day of my 50th birthday just because I’m about 100 pounds overweight.

    It really isn’t. That’s why we don’t allow thin-bashing here, and why we don’t like slogans like “real women have curves.”

  12. *sigh*. absolute foolishness.

    I’m tired, so that’s all I got.

    A bit OT…i did see another post here 10 minutes ago that disappeared, right? Cause if not, I need to put my nyquil the hell DOWN.

  13. And, heh, Mr.Luci is a skinny, skinny man who has gained five pounds in the past year. The five pounds sit right in his belly. And he hunches over even when he stands up because he spends his life at a computer. So basically, I’m looking at a Hubert Farnsworth lookalike the rest of my life. Sigh. He’s adorable.

    /end totally random husband adoration

  14. Who wants to buy an island with me? We can screen residents like a HOA. No tabloid, entertainment, or FOX reporters allowed.

    I’m in! Can I have a little pond? I’d love a little island pond.

  15. He’d lift weights, drink weight gain, down huge plates of pasta and eat shakes of ice cream, chocolate, bananas, and peanut butter (yuck!), just to gain weight.

    And I’ll bet it didn’t work and probably put stress his physiological systems which he could have done without. That’s a fascinating mirror-image of the experience of shapelings who are still on the diet/thin-fantasy merry-go-round.

  16. A bit OT…i did see another post here 10 minutes ago that disappeared, right? Cause if not, I need to put my nyquil the hell DOWN.

    Yeah, you did, fashionablenerd. I was writing at the same time as SM, and when I went to post, WP had logged me out, so it got all fucked up. Post had autosaved, so I thought it was fine and posted it for real. Then I realized it was actually missing 3 or 4 paragraphs at the end, and A) I’m too lazy to rewrite them right now, and B) I realized SM had just posted, so I wanted to let a discussion get going here before I put something else at the top of the page.

  17. Time-Machine, you can have a pond on an island in another pond on the island. Pond is weird word. Pond pond pond.

    God, my head is fucking killing me.

  18. Telling people what they should look like is just mean, and it’s especially wrong when you get moralistic about it. I realize that this is the extremely simplistic, child’s-eye view of FA. And also, at the risk of objectifying and of over-personalizing what is a societal issue, but for the positive affirmation of any men who might be reading that crap as well as checking in here, I would like to say that I find many “skinny” androgynous men very sexy, and also that I thought that Mark Addy was the sexiest one in “The Full Monty.” (He was “the fat one,” who wrapped himself in plastic wrap and ate candy bars while crying in the shed, btw.) It all depends on who you are, how kind you are, how nice you are to get to know, or what else you have to offer. Weight doesn’t matter! So, just some anecdotal evidence that, once again, the media are full of crap, and wouldn’t it be nice if people would quit making up specious trends to torment the public in general.

  19. I hope I didn’t sound like an idiot. I know it’s always dicey when people turn a big issue into “but I think so-and-so is attractive,” as if one’s personal proclivities were the most important thing. If I do sound dopey, please be understanding. My heart’s in the right place, I think.

  20. I’ve always liked the skinny guys. My fiance is one, kind of. (When I met him he was a starving student and was super skinny because he couldn’t afford to eat properly. Now that he’s well fed, he still has the lanky limbs, but he also has love handles and a little belly). Big muscles just don’t really do it for me, personally. So yeah, the skinny guy bashing is pretty offensive. It also bugs my feminist self that this has been a problem for female models for years and years, but as soon as it starts affecting men it’s “Oh my God, this is terrible!”

  21. Most of the guys I’ve known, whether skinny, average or fat, have expressed dissatisfaction with their body. One wanted to add some “meat to his bones”, another talked about losing weight, a third about adding muscle build. In all cases, I liked them as they were. Oh, and mind you, none of them ever expressed similar dissatisfaction toward my own body (fortunately) — isn’t it just another example of how our own perception is so fucked up?

    Guess my taste in guys really runs the gamut, at least in terms of physical type…

  22. The fine line ideal of “the perfect body” just keeps getting finer and finer. Soon, nobody will fit.

    What do you mean, soon? I think we’re already there.

  23. My other half has just been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. As part of the assessment, he had his BMI measured, which was 18.85. Oh, said the consultant, it’s definitely ulcertaive colitis — everyone I see with a BMI like that has it. Except that it’s the same (actually, a little higher) BMI that he’s had for the last twenty years. It’s so frustrating that almost no one, not even doctors, can seem to grasp that people come in different shapes, and tha’ts okay.

    (Oooh…I just went to check that BMI figure, and the NHS Direct weight calculator defines a ‘healthy’ BMI as between 18.5 and 24.9. What the heck happened to 20 being the lower cut-off?)

  24. This reminds me of the way that reading British classics as a teen introduced me to the mind-blowing concept that most people are average looking. There were a few beautiful people, and a few ugly people, and mostly people fall in between. And sometimes the ugly people were WONDERFUL people (Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester, anyone?) And there were stout people who were admirable and not ugly in British books at that period, although I’m not sure that’s true today.

    Growing up in America, I had never heard of anyone being average looking. If you were not beautiful, you were ugly, period. Reading Eliot and Dickens and Bronte improved my self esteem a lot. I was able to put myself into the not-perfect is okay category mentally. It’s why I love books from different times and places, they can shake up your world view in good ways. :)

  25. Donuts sound pretty good right now, and I’ve been the size accepting kind for about three years or so. I don’t plan on changing soon. This just helps me further. ^_^
    Thanks for another good post Sweet Machine. I’m sure Mr. Sweet Machine is a lucky man. :)

  26. loveandlight, you’re right. He gained 15 lbs over a six-month period of eating like this, and when he *stopped* trying to gain weight, guess what…yup, he went back down to within 5 lbs of the weight at which he’d hovered all his adult life.

  27. Beautiful men and women can be big, small, short, tall, muscular, soft-looking, and any combination thereof. Any color. Any age. What the fuck about that is so hard for the media and the fashion industry to understand? Sure, most people have appearance-based sexual preferences. That doesn’t change the fact that human beings, including the nicest looking examples, are incredibly varied in their appearance.

    By all means, describe big, strong men in glowing terms. They’re lovely. But why is it necessary to put down smaller men at the same time?

  28. Lu, I don’t think you sounded remotely like an idiot. You were pointing out that for you personality trumps body type, which is the goal we all should strive for.

    And to add to the anecdotal evidence that one size does NOT fit all libidos, my personal Sex God list includes (among others): David Bowie, Avery Brooks, Anthony Stewart Head, Seth Green, and Mr. Twistie who is a big, beefy guy who towers a foot over me and is by no measure thin. Body type and ethnicity are all over the map. What attracts me are hearts and minds. If I love his spirit, his body is automatically more attractive to me.

    We need wider definitions of physical attractiveness for both sexes in the modeling world. Punishing men for being thin is just as bad as punishing women for being fat. We won’t have a healthy societal view of weight until people stop thinking bodies are horrible unless they fit an unattainable and entirely random standard.

  29. sweetmachine, my hubby’s had flak for being skinny for years. He’s now 5’8″ with a BMI of 20, but he used to be so much thinner that they wouldn’t let him give blood. (Like some of the other skinny guys, when he put weight on a lot of it went to his tummy. Which I think is cute, and he thinks is gross.) He used to get teased for ‘looking like a girl’ – he’s also got long hair and quite a feminine facial shape. But, androgynous is what I like, and I don’t go for the big muscles. I once worked with a girl who drooled over those semi-naked fireman calendars, and I absolutely didn’t get that, but – each to their own. As long as it is their own and they’re not foisting it off as everybody’s ideal, which sadly often seems to be the case.

  30. Now where would the diet industry and the surgeons and cosmeticians and clothing and all of those other industries be if we all liked ourselves and found each other attractive? This suggestion that we accept ourselves and like any body type or look not approved by our media lords and masters is downright unpatriotic! You want the economy to collapse! It can’t just all be an orgy of self and other acceptance and baby donuts, people. Now get back to carving yourself into the ideal. We have an economy to support.

  31. I’m wondering if the media/advertisers are trying to expand the population who hates themselves in order to boost sales. It’s easy to sell lots of product when you have a relatively homogeneous population in whom you can create similar desires. But with the increasing diversification of American culture (can’t speak to the world, but I suspect it’s similar), you either have to have more directed advertising (read: more money), or you have to find ways to make your population the same. And body hatred seems to be a pretty easy one to implement.

    I’ve known men who were glorious who were tall, short, thin, wide, pale, darker, and everything in between. (I was even lucky enough to date some of them!) Same with women. Attractiveness is in the eye of the beholder, not the eye of the media.

  32. Bekbek, you mentioned the words “orgy” and “baby donuts” in the same sentence. You realize I’m going be having obscene thoughts all evening now…

  33. Bekbek – I’m learning to hate OTHER things about myself instead of my weight. My hair and skin! I have all the wrong clothing! My feet are too big! I smell!

    Not to mention my baby-flavoured doughnuts are flavoured with BAD babies, not the far more desirable angel babies of my youth.

    Can I plz have body acceptance?

  34. It also bugs my feminist self that this has been a problem for female models for years and years, but as soon as it starts affecting men it’s “Oh my God, this is terrible!”

    This was pretty much my reaction to this article as well. Nevermind the skinny-guy bashing, that’s bad enough on it’s own, but the tone of the piece, as though idealizing a body-type that does not come naturally to most people was some kind of never-before-seen horror really got me. Women have been dealing with this sort of thing for ages, but now something very similiar is happening to men, so, tear out a page in the NY Times! OMGZ DIDN’T THEY JUST OUTLAW THE THIN WIMENZ MODELS! WHAT ABOUT THE MENZ!!!!

  35. Now where would the diet industry and the surgeons and cosmeticians and clothing and all of those other industries be if we all liked ourselves and found each other attractive?

    Heh, no kidding. We’d all be too busy fucking to buy stuff.

  36. “Most of the guys I’ve known, whether skinny, average or fat, have expressed dissatisfaction with their body.”

    Ladylaye, I find that too. It’s so depressing. I have never never been in a situation where I’ve convinced someone to undress in front of me and thought, “Hmm…I would be more attracted to him if he were heavier/thinner/more hairy/less hairy/paler/darker/etc.” Mostly, I’m just like, “Hell yeah hottie, let’s go!”

    I try to hang on to this when I’m having my own moments of body doubt and darkness.

  37. I’d just like to add my distaste for the misuse of the word androgyne to describe these thin men. (Distaste aimed at the NYTimes, who should know better.) These models look nothing like women. They look young. Young is not synonymous with androgynous.

    I can understand the use of the word to describe thin women thusly, because they often (not always) have flatter chests and narrow hips so common in models of this type. They do indeed also resemble boys.

    /rant

  38. Good call sumac… by the time we’re naked together attraction is already established :)

    One of my body neuroses is about how I look naked. I really think I look pretty good most of the time when I’m wearing clothes but if I catch myself naked in the mirror I get really upset.

    There are two people who regularly see me naked, the on who is not me thinks it’s awesome, so I should probably shut up about it :)

  39. *headdesk*

    The sexism and the body hatred… they burn…

    Sadly, I too know a lot of men (ranging in age from 26 to about 60) who think they need to change their appearance. Some want to gain muscle, some want to lose weight, some want to be taller, some want to be heavier (I know one guy who wants to gain weight because he can’t find small enough jeans with a long enough inseam). They don’t seem to have as intensely burning a body-hatred as the women I know, but they still aren’t happy with their bodies.

    We so don’t need this poison to spread any farther…

  40. I really love it when I read an article in the morning and then think “I hope there’s something about this on Shapely Prose,” and then click over to see that you guys are on the case. That article made my brain hurt.

  41. I have never never been in a situation where I’ve convinced someone to undress in front of me and thought, “Hmm…I would be more attracted to him if he were heavier/thinner/more hairy/less hairy/paler/darker/etc.” Mostly, I’m just like, “Hell yeah hottie, let’s go!”

    I try to hang on to this when I’m having my own moments of body doubt and darkness.

    I must confess, this is a big fear of mine. Even though I know I wouldn’t feel that way for someone else, I always worry that someone would feel that way about me. Glad to know I’m not the only one out there!

  42. My husband is 6’1 and 160 lbs, and I think he is sexy as hell. (True story: when we were getting married, the jeweler could never remember that the little wedding band was his and the big wedding band was mine. He was always handing me this little tiny ring to try on.)

    Which then makes me wonder: when will the switch flip and people suddenly realize what a complete line of horseshit we’re being fed? Will it ever flip?

    Jane, this is a really interesting question. I know for myself that it was hard to reject the idea of an ideal body type, because, my reasoning went, if there is no ideal, then what will I compare myself to to know how I am doing? I won’t presume to speak for everyone, but I think a lot of people thrive on competition and improvement, and so are invested in having a goal to strive towards. That makes it harder to give up on the idea of an ideal body.

  43. Did someone say Christian Bale … Oh, sorry.

    “Sorry to go into the sort of detail that sounds almost objectifying”

    What I love is the distinct and repeated emphasis on character and personality.

  44. As a guy standing 5’3″, as a guy who used to weight 98 pounds (and who now, at a slightly stocky, muscular-with-a-bit-of-beer-gut 115 pounds, is being told by his doctor and his family that he’s fat and needs to lose weight), and as a transsexual guy, I have known for a long long time that body hatred has never just been “for fat chicks”.

  45. there’s a lot of talk about how the current ideal body (or any ideal body, for that matter) is screwed up. anyone have any ideas how to change the ideal to a less-screwed-up one or remove the need for an ideal?

    (i’ve got no idea. just curious what others think.)

  46. Jae, you are definitely not the only one! I struggle with this. I bet a few people here do. But I’m getting better with my bod.

    A while ago I wondered to myself if I have a “type” of guy I date and thinking back on all the different guys I’ve hooked up with and have basically seen naked, I realized they were all so different. And then I realized that’s something that really turns me on about bodies in general: They are all so different and that difference makes them inherently interesting, beautiful and sexy. What I find less interesting, perhaps, is the overexposed type of body. The model body. I’ve dated all sorts of guys including a male stripper and a male model. The stripper and model bodies didn’t really turn me on that much. But my hairy hairy pudgy ex? The skinny dude with the hip tattoos? So hot. Anyway, no disrespect to model bodies, but I see them everywhere. They’re expected. The other is what’s hot.

    How I perceive the bodies of others is helping me reinvision my own body as inherently good and interesting (and changing).

  47. So I guess we can sum it up thusly:

    – It’s a lot more likely that a man will be “skinny” without self-starvation than a woman will.

    – Therefore, “skinny” men are ugly and “skinny” women are the cherished ideal.

    But hey, skinny guys can always pick up guitars and make the girls scream playing in bands. If they’re young and white and photogenic, that is. Nobody has ever worried much aloud about Mick Jagger’s “health” for the last 44 years, not even with all the drugs and whatnot.

  48. Oh, and C. totally gets funny looks from people if he orders a salad, instead of a big hunk of meat or a pile of egg whites that could “help him bulk up.” Gaaahhh.

  49. My fiance is my height and weighs maybe twenty pounds less than I do–and I’m pretty skinny. He’s got floppy blond hair and a delicate face, and I think he’s beautiful. He and his twin sister are both thin, small-boned people, and they get harassed about it all the time; it drives me nuts. Just as women can be beautiful without being runway models, men can be beautiful without conforming to the beefcake standards.

  50. Nobody has ever worried much aloud about Mick Jagger’s “health” for the last 44 years, not even with all the drugs and whatnot.

    That’s another thing hubby’s had in the past. A combination of being very thin, slightly spacey and weird, and given to sudden cravings for sugary junk at odd hours, tends to make people assume you’re on drugs of some kind even if, like him, you’ve never touched them.

  51. sumac, I am totally with you on finding non-“ideal” bodies more sexy/interesting than typical model bodies. My theory is that we’ve become desensitized to the apparent sexiness of those kinds of images, kind of like developing a tolerance for alcohol, perhaps?

    (I hope that just made sense; I really shouldn’t comment this late in my workday when my brain is this fried!)

  52. My range of “men I find physically attractive” varies wildly. About the only thing which really links them all is a personality trait which I’ve nicknamed “the scruff factor”. All of them look very interesting disheveled and stubbly, and they tend more toward the anti-hero personality type than the heroic personality type. This may be an expression of prejudice on my part – I tend to consider the anti-hero the more intelligent of the two, simply because he’s more willing to ask silly questions like “surely there’s a back door into the Evil Overlord’s stronghold that we can use, rather than making a frontal attack on this extremely heavily defended door?”

    As for my appearance, I have two things in my favour. One is a partner who has been telling me for the past ten years that he thinks I am “boofuls” and gorgeous. The other is enough Arian self-assurance to make me agree with him. I think he’s gorgeous too, so that’s both of us happy.

  53. Male porn star physiques turn me off. Huge arms and pecs and bulging veins are not sexy. Everytime I see those muscle magazines, I cringe.

    I like men with “Kevin Spacey” bodies. I want Mr. Next Door Neighbor, not Mr. Universe.

  54. That’s another thing hubby’s had in the past. A combination of being very thin, slightly spacey and weird, and given to sudden cravings for sugary junk at odd hours, tends to make people assume you’re on drugs of some kind even if, like him, you’ve never touched them.

    Yeah, my husband is skinny, spacey, and allergic to dust (which means his eyes are red a lot of the time). People always assume that he’s a stoner, which makes us laugh.

  55. I hate being told what I should look like.
    But what I hate is other people being told what they should look like and then accepting it.
    The media is teaching self-hatred and that is wrong on so many different levels.
    *seethes*
    I’m sorry, but this just pisses me off so much. I have friends, male and female, of all different body types and I think they’re all beautiful and wonderful just they way they are. I wouldn’t want them to change anything about themselves because they media tells them they’re not good enough.

    And by the way, I find skinny guys incredibly attractive. The guy I’m currently interested in is tall, lean and gorgeous. :)

  56. Um, I’m not sure what the NYT journalist is watching, but male porn stars are not all big and buff and gleaming pectoral muscles – not unless you’re watching gay porn.

    Which maybe you should be, because the guys are way better looking, IMHO. Het porn stars tend to suffer from an unfortunate failure to remove their gym socks.

    I know some people have problems with porn, and I respect and understand that, but in answer to problematic’s question:

    there’s a lot of talk about how the current ideal body (or any ideal body, for that matter) is screwed up. anyone have any ideas how to change the ideal to a less-screwed-up one or remove the need for an ideal?

    I think we need to make more erotic images of a wider range of body types. Even if you just make them for yourself and your partner, seeing yourself that way can make you feel super sexy. And seeing erotic (even if not actually full-on pr0n) images of different body types can help shift our image of the ideal. So take dirty pictures! It’s fun!

  57. Lexy wrote: “One of my body neuroses is about how I loo naked. I really think I look pretty good most of the time when I’m wearing clothes but if I catch myself naked in the mirror I get really upset. ”

    I think I had one of my most important moments on my way to acceptance of myself and/in my body some months ago. I had a new girlfriend then, I was getting up from bed to pee, and I thought how much I loved her body (among other things). She is the same height and nearly the same weight as me, though built rather differently. I did not think “yeah, I like her body, and it is a bit overweight”, I thought specifically “I like her body *because* she is overweight and nice and squishy and cuddly”.

    When I came back to the room I crossed the floor-length mirror in the hall, and caught a glimpse of my naked body, which I usually try to avoid, cause it makes me cringe.
    And for the first time in my (bloody hell!) (then) 33 years, I could feel in my *heart*, that my body is okay the way it is. I could see in myself what I saw in her shape lying on the bed. In my *heart* I believed everybody that ever told me that they loved my body the way it is.

    Last summer I marched in the Christopher Street Day Parade, and walked around with bare arms full of big ass scars in front of thousands of people for three hours. That was important and very very cool. The moment in front of the mirror topped that morning easily.

    It makes me sad that it took me that long, but I am happy that I reached that point.
    Thanks again for your blog, guys, you are helping so many people so much!

  58. One my of my boys is currently dating a male model who’s now doing coke in order to retain his “thin” body.

    Personally, give me Tyson-Brad-Viggo. I like a man who can toss me over his shoulder and wander off with me.

  59. Skreee, when I was in college I had a girlfriend that everyone said looked like me (she really didn’t, but we were about the same height and weight and had similar hair). That was really empowering for me, too — I looked at her and thought she was gorgeous, and then everyone said I looked like her, so logically I was gorgeous too! It took me a lot longer than that to find true fat acceptance, but it was really important for my own understanding of my body.

  60. What I most love in a man is humor and intelligence. Looks matter but are pretty secondary for me. That said, I have a skinny husband who is too cute for words, and, thanks to sumac, next time I see him naked I’m going to yell, “Hell yeah, hottie, let’s go!” It would be most uncharacteristic of me, but what the hell.

    Of course we’re all constantly being told we don’t measure up in some way so’s we’ll go out and buy shit to make us less “unacceptable”. And while I like Kate’s version of what we’d do if we all loved ourselves, I also can’t help but think we’d also go out and rock some pretty awesome changes in this world. There are some evil-ass forces that depend on the lot of us feeling like shit. I think this blog and the fatosphere are incredibly important and have the power to be a radical change agent, for individuals and eventually whole societies!

  61. I, too, am sick of this shit.
    I’ve always preferred guys on the slimmer side — or maybe we’ve gravitated towards each other. Mr. Rounded is definitely naturally on the wirey side. In fact, when our little one is playing, the biggest one is always mommy, the medium-sized one is daddy, and the little one is baby. I’m not embarassed by this — our kid is just observant (and has a tendancy to turn every inanimate object into a person or animal ready to interact with all the other inanimate objects that have become people or animals).
    I have been thinking (prior to reading this post) how sick I am of the assumption that we can all turn into something else. The rhino becoming the unicorn. There is nothing wrong with being whatever you naturally (or naturally plus your environment) are — thin, fat, inbetween, tall, short, and everything in between.
    Do you ever find yourself in a situation where you are just in awe of the dazzling diversity of the human form – -all the different combinations and permutations? I find this happening — at work, at a restaurant, at the Y — and I just feel so profoundly grateful for all the beautiful variation.

  62. So… I found this site off of http://www.talesofmu.com …and I’m hooked. I love every single one of you. Because you are awesome. Now… I have a story! I was trolling about the internets a little while ago and found this “SUPER AMAZING AWESOME DIET WORKOUT EXERCISE PLAN” thing (sorry, I don’t remember the site, it disgusted me too much… you’ll understand shortly.) that let you tell them how much you need to lose… Now, I’m male, 5’7” and 145 pounds… I can pretty much shop at the little boy sections. I threw in my real height/weight and said I wanted to weigh 120. This website told me that I am overweight, borderline obese… and that I could be MUCH HEALTHIER at 105-115. Now… seriously. Come on. I look like a pasty white Ethiopian… and you’re telling me that I’m HUGE and could stand to drop 30-40 pounds? What IN THE FUCK?!

  63. I have a quotation from my sociology textbook that sums this up well:

    “In an important sense there is only one complete unblushing male in America: a young, married, white, urban, northern, heterosexual, Protestant father, of college education, fully employed, of good complexion, weight, and height, and [with] a recent record in sports. . . . Any male who fails to qualify in any one of these ways [I'd argue any male who fails to qualify in nearly all of these ways] is likely to view himself–during moments at least–as unworthy, incomplete, and inferior.” -Erving Goffman

    Is the quotation above news? No, of course not. And Goffman died in 1982. But I’m pissed off by society’s inferiority-as-modus-operandi for both sexes (and for all body types), and it’s seemingly endless.

  64. that kelly cutrone person needs to stfu. grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr… yes, i (as the consumer) am just pushing and striving every day to keep the thin standard and the ageism in the fashion industry. i devote my life to it b/c i’m fat and i want to be ostracized and i don’t want to be able to find cute clothes. i admit it. IT’S ALL MY FAULT!! feh. right.

    also, i’m the proud fiancee of a skinny dude. i find him sexy as hell, and not at all like a scarecrow thankyouverymuch.

  65. Thank you for noticing and posting this! I saw this article too and was horrified.. I even wrote about it as well. I know far more “urchins” and “underfed runts” then I do ripped Brad Pitt-like men. None of this makes any sense. For some reason, top news sources think it’s perfectly fine to insult skinny people all they want..

  66. My fav actor, just from a physical perspective: Aidan Quinn. Definitely on the slim side. Also, David Strathairn.

  67. Looking at my (albeit short) dating history, I notice two body types I seem to be attracted to: tall and skinny, or big and broad. Yum!

    I’ve certainly never seen thin/skinny men as ‘effeminate’ because of their size. I’ve *known* genuinely effeminate men and although they were often very slender, I put a lot of that down to the fact that they were professional ballet dancers. *shrugs*

    I think this whole issue is a good example of how the patriarchy hurts men, too. It’s also a great example of how society views women. When we’re starving ourselves to meet an ever-changing standard that’s considered ‘right’ lest we all end up as ‘fatties’, but when men do it it’s so WRONG and the media digs in happily.

    And, as a total aside, I saw someone mention Kevin Spacey. To which I say YES PLEASE! I’ve had a crush on him since I was 12, and once sent him a horribly embarrassing fangirl letter. Two years later I received a signed photo of him, which I now have framed. *cough*

  68. Time and again I’m frustrated – disgusted actually – at magazines that will scream the latest diet from the front cover, suggest 12 ways to get the perfect arse, thighs or tummy – and then thrown in a token article somewhere in the same magazine about accepting yourself the way you are. These magazines invariably also have a “Ask Dr Quacker’ about your problems. They are filled with young girls and guys in angst over a body issue … and the ensuing answer contains all the self-empowerment advice you want to hear. So young writer feels better, closes the magazine and WHAMMO! Theres that message again that you’re a freak and worthy or scorn. Enough with feeling frustrated … I have a proforma letter which I adjust a little for each time I see this and send it to the Editor. I live for the day when people who fat-bash are put in the same category as farts who still unashamedly make racist and antihomophobic slurs … more and more they are being seen as having obsolete views and not worth listening to.

  69. oops did I say antihomophobic? I really should proofread after I’m not seeing red. Oh and I prefer slim guys … I even dated the President of my State’s crossdressing association. My ulterior motive was soon uncovered when I found his collection of Joan Collinseque type shoes a bit too 1985. However, no-one can escape the wary eye of a Ukrainian godmother who declared him too skinny – but I prefer her perspective of thinking him unable to push start a tractor, as opposed to magazine editors who fan and fuel the fires of self loathing for most body types. Actually (and I hate the word Perfect) the perfect body and face does not exist. I’m a whiz at photoshop myself and love to closely examine the wee pixels that have been adjusted. How maddening is that? A whole society geared to worship an ideal that does not exist?

  70. I can’t decide whether to say “hey honey, you can be a model as long as you leave the “man of the house” job to the dog” or “MY SKINNY HUSBAND YOU CAN NOT HAS!” Either one seems oddly appropriate.

  71. I can remember a time when people happily shrugged their shoulders and would say “whats normal anyway”? The “whats perfect anyway” shrug is coming. Viva La Fat Acceptance Revolution!

  72. when our little one is playing, the biggest one is always mommy, the medium-sized one is daddy, and the little one is baby. I’m not embarassed by this — our kid is just observant

    This is the cutest thing, and such a positive thing that your family’s proportions do a twist on the mommy-bear, daddy-bear, baby-bear size stereotypes and so THAT is the norm for your sweet child. It’s nice to hear that, at least in this case, the culture didn’t mess up your kid’s head and tell him or her that what he/she sees–not what society tells him to believe–is the truth.

  73. Speaking of male body hatred, of course it goes both ways. Can’t have anyone, even the famous, thinking they are OK. This week I saw a piece in the Daily Mail criticising Sean Lennon for his ever so slight (and might I add totally cute) pudge. Simply because he was eating a pastry pie. They referred to him as “the walrus”.

    And to top it off, on the very same page they applauded Amy Winehouse as the “Picture of Health”~!

    Seriously, WTF?!

    Here’s a screen cap (highlights are mine):

    This is totally disgusting to me. A perfectly healthy person is caught eating in public and is slammed for not maintaining his teenage physique, and a recovering crack/coke addict is lauded as “healthy”.

    It’s a conspiracy, y’all.

  74. From what I’ve seen, the only “physique” that porn stars have is an impressive package. Other than that, the body types seem to vary for the guys. There are a few beefcakes, but also lots of skinnier dudes and/or dudes with a little pot belly or otherwise just kind of average.

  75. Jadine, I just looked at the jpg file. Who the fark is writing this crap? Please send a letter to the paper concerned. Write to politicians, church leaders, teaching associations, whoever you can. The more we stay silent, the more the fat-bashing will snowball. I ‘met’ Sean Lennon in NYC when I was standing with my fiance’s family. Sean was waiting for a limo next to us. I couldn’t help it but looked at his shoes and said to him jokingly “you can tell how rich a person is by the shoes they’re wearing” … I had no farkin idea it was Sean Lennon. He looked at me and my shoes and said “your laces are undone”. We just laughed at each other. Family was shrieking afterwards “That was Sean Lennon!! OMG!! I cant believe you said that!!”

    Okay, I’ll stop showing off now. Back to the jpg. I bet his dad is beaming down on him for not struggling to fit into a stereotype.

    Imagine.

  76. Katarin, OMG. You met Sean Lennon? Sweet! :)

    I just love him. He is a brilliant musician in his own write (pun intended, hee!). But seriously. How dare the Daily Mail pick on him (or anyone else) like that for an adorable little tummy pudge! I know they are a cheesy tabloid rag, so what did I expect, eh.

    Imagine indeed~! Imagine all the people living life in peace. (Peace within their own bodies).

  77. I just read through the NYT article, and this got me:

    “I personally think that it’s the consumer that’s doing this, and fashion is just responding,” said Kelly Cutrone…

    WTF? People still believe this? ‘The consumer’ doesn’t dictate what they want anymore – advertising tells us what we want.

  78. Pandora, Ron Jeremy was totally hot in the day. Not that I was into mustaches ;) Lemme tell you something about Ron Jeremy – he said flat out that he got more girls off with his tongue than he ever did with his gargantuan member – he actually LIKES to please women. Despite the stupid porn star thing. The 70s were a different time for porn – it wasn’t all about pretending to turn a woman on and then pounding her butt as hard as possible – there was more going on than that. I don’t like porn (uh, I used to) but seriously. It actually mattered that there was a little more for everyone. And maybe even a PLOT. (The Satisfiers, Cafe Flesh, etc.) Ron was actually thin then, which was when he could satisfy himself lol.

  79. Pingback: Health in Pictures: the Daily Mail at Hoyden About Town

  80. I’m naturally a very skinny guy. I can eat whatever I want and not gain any weight. When people ask and I tell them this, they tend to get offended. It’s sad though, because I have skinny friends as well. One is particularly shallow and always going on about this BS. I just had a horrible bacteria infection in my digestive system not too long ago that my body is still recovering from, so I actually know what Bale felt like in that movie lol. Actually I don’t think I got that skinny, but I went from my 150 normal weight down to about 135. I’m still on my way back up, but it did a lot to my mood, self confidence, and how other people reacted to me. No one could seem to understand when I told them that I was sick either…

    Personally I’ve always liked cheeks that jut and sink a little, I think it adds a little charcter to your face in a nation of double chins. Not to try to add to what this article is railing against…

    I’ve always been pretty happy with the way I look. I only do about a 30 minute aerobic excersize 4-5 times a week consisting of mainly various pushups, crunchs, and leg excersizes. In the warmer time of year I regularly bike 5 or so miles 4 times a week. I have no desire to look like some shallow, duechbag porn star, nor do I care what other people think of my weight. It’s a never ending battle and I try to tell my shallow friend this. Just get regularly excersize and eat right, and be happy with your body type. It’s dangerous trying to change it to fit some ever-morphing, unattainable image in your head.

  81. The thing about Ron Jeremy is, this was back in the 70s and early 80s when porno also had plots and the stars were natural. Flesh and imperfections were okay and people really didn’t care if naked bodies had some flab. Now, it’s all silicone, collagen, waxed, plastic, pecked-out and fake. God forbid today’s porn stars have some rolls with their gravy and butter.

  82. BekBek’s got it. There is no money to be made in having an unattainable cultural ideal for body type, so what the media tells us is ideal keeps shifting so that more products for weight loss or weight gain or tonifying or whatever can be sold. Now that the average American is considered medically overweight, the ideal body type for both men and women is going to stay super skinny or wiry until that changes. We’re talking a multi-billion (if not trillion) dollar industry here–just think of all the gyms, foods, weight loss products, “figure flattering” swimsuits, etc. that depend on our being dissatisfied with ourselves. And we wonder why the rates of depression in the US keep going up and up.

  83. I remember reading that the easiest way to become a millionaire was to sell something intangible. In a wider sense, this would mean a body ideal, but obviously many inane treatments are raking in the big $’s as a leech on the ideal. 14all, I think there is some hope in the news media only, who if anything, are very competitive in seeking newsworthy and up-to-the-minute social and ‘right now’ events. It is often the proliferation of popular magazines and constant TV commercials, web ads, who are the main beneficiaries of weight loss advertising. The actual companies who make money from selling the weight-loss and related products are easily expendable if the Fat-Acceptance Movement gains more momentum in the community. Ultimately its the power of numbers that generates change. More people need to speak out, show their rejection of the ideal, educate the wider public about the health of fat people and empower themselves, and demoralised others, with nothing less than their own fat-acceptance.

    I’m going to start collecting anti-fat advertisements, slogans, logos, stories – for a historical perspective. I’m still hopeful that within about 30 years, people can look back on these ads with disgust (and some hilarity) at how bad, cruel and stupid, fat people were regarded and treated at this point in time.

  84. I think we should be more like Japan, and embrace adrogynous boys. They call them Bishounen in Japan, which means pretty boy.

    Actually it’s not all that uncommon, for men to cross dress in Japan. Like, with Visual-Kei rock bands, most famously Malice Mizer. Feel free to search them up, I bet you’ll take a look at them and be like, “No way, those are guys?!”

    I think that stuff is hot. It’s seen as completely weird in the USA, but not with Japan. Maybe that’s why there are so many women who like Japanese culture, aside from the excessive amount of cute involved as well.

  85. This is part of the reason I stopped identifying as a man — when I realized that gender isn’t something essential about us, and it’s not a force for good. In fact, it’s often a weapon we wield against each other, a way to push someone’s interests by making people feel bad about themselves.

    The minute I became (realized/decided I was) genderqueer, the admonishments to “man up” lost their power. I no longer had to participate in the misogynies inherent in “being a man.” A rigid gender system is a hierarchical one, and when we work for freedom, it’s against notions of femininity and masculinity that we do it.

  86. Oh that’s lovely. Many of those models would have severe body image issues and perhaps eating disorders, so of course the best thing for them to hear is that they look repulsive.

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