Thursday, February 13, 2014

Male Ideal: Corruption by Media?


Image: DeviantArt
The media images of men are changing to become more muscular and have a more robust build. First of all, it is commonly believed that women are only affected by the media, but that is not true. The question is how does this affect how men view themselves, and is it a positively or negatively? This topic is controversial, but I believe that it does negatively affect men, boys and teens because they are being influenced into the idea of obtaining this unreachable body image. There are many methods that males use, and I believe all these methods are an example of how the media affected the majority of males. The media’s ideal image has influenced a change in male behavior, and the steps taken to achieving this image, while some being good in moderation, are mostly harmful to their bodies.

One of the most common methods to improve one’s body is the change in eating habits. Diets and changing your eating habits can be good, until they become unnatural which can lead to a disorder. An Eating Specialist wrote, on Huffington Post, that " according to NEDA [National Eating Disorders Association], at least one million males in the United States have an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia." This contrasts with the idea, she wrote, that "twenty years ago, very few people even knew what an eating disorder was." These statements show that people’s eating habits are changing, and this reaction is attributed to the change in media messages. This message appears in a variety of media, in fact, actor Sam Claflin has this same problem. When he is cast in Catching Fire, as Finnick Odair, the idealized male, he was “admitting he didn't see himself as Finnick at all.” He believed that he isn’t muscular or handsome enough, and that he was insecure. He says, “My wife calls me manorexic, I do seriously have issues, I think. She thinks I'm getting so skinny, but I look at myself and think I'm getting fat.” The fact that a perfectly athletic actor has such views about himself shows that the media is really affecting people, even actors, who are thought to be some of the most confident, secure and popular men in the world, and that this change in media IS negatively affecting males worldwide.

More of these methods that males are using are the use of steroids, protein powders and working out. In a New York Times article, a eighteen-year-old is quoted “I didn’t used to be into supplements” and that “I wanted something that would help me get bigger a little faster.” This shows how teenagers want to change and show a desire for the “improved” body image. Also, teenagers are showing an aptitude for better body images, in fact, almost 40% of boys and teens work out to get a better body. Also, “thirty-eight percent said they used protein supplements, and nearly 6 percent said they had experimented with steroids.” This is an another example to show how people are trying to increase muscle and have better body images. These supplements can be dangerous as a professor of medicine at Boston University says, “The problem with supplements is they’re not regulated like drugs, so it’s very hard to know what’s in them,” therefore it can lead to many problems within a body. This increased amount of younger men involving in improving and adding muscle mass to their bodies show that media is affecting males with different occupations and also different ages.

On the flip side for both of these two methods are the positive effects gained. If the eating habits aren’t drastically changed, or if they aren’t severely reduced, to say almost anorexia, then it is good to diet and become healthy. Dieting is good for the body because it can lower chances of getting diseases, and some “fat around the waist is typically buried deep in the abdomen and increases your risk for diabetes, heart disease and dementia.” Getting rid of these chances for disease is obviously a benefit. This is also the same with working out, it can be good for your body, and make someone become healthier. However, the perfection of these images creates jealousy, and also an article on Huffington Post says that “Perfectionism leads to the desire to be good, accepted, perfect and in control -- all of which are prerequisites of anorexia.” So, I believe that while these images can spark benefits in health, however, they usually create an over-obsession in one’s body image, due to its perfection. Therefore, I believe that this change in media is negatively influencing men and boys to excessively obsess about their personal image.

Overall, I think that these changes in media are negatively affecting people, and not very often benefiting people because of the perfection of the media created image. While it is good to have people aware of their own body and not being unhealthy, it shouldn’t be taken to drastic measures. People shouldn’t be scrutinizing their own image, and trying to change it.

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Conclusion: I enjoyed doing this project because it brought me to realize and learn about how not only females, but males are affected by the media. Woman are usually thought of as the more affected gender by media, but I learned that isn’t always the case. Men are also affected, and sometimes they are also to extreme severity. The effect of media on males, I researched, is negative, and harmfully affects most, by portraying the idea of working-out to have a muscular body. By having so many men affected by the media, it emphasizes the impact that it can bring, and how powerful it is. Also, everyone who did, thank you for commenting. All your comments were very helpful, and they helped bring up some topics, such as if famous actors, in this case, Sam Claflin, would be increasing the amount of men affected negatively, which I think it does. Also, they talked about if it can be personal and related to me, which it is. None of the comments brought up the other side of the argument, any positive effects the media brought to men, so my opinion remained unchanged. These comments did encourage me to research in more depth, about the eating disorders and how perfection can play into that, and especially how athletes have an effect on males, as well. Overall, this topic was both enlightening and interesting. I was intrigued by the research and the topic, itself, and I was able to find many resources regarding males. Also, this process was fun at the same time, by when I was thinking for “hooks,” flashy titles, etc.

10 comments:

  1. Interesting article, NDS, especially the information about actors and anorexia. You would think someone like Sam Claflin wouldn't be worried about his looks or body. He is an actor and makes his living on those things. Seems like you'd have to be confident in your looks and body to go into acting. It actually makes him seem more normal that he is affected by the media and the public perception. Since he was open about getting thin and his wife calls him manorexic, do think he is helping change the idea of being perfect or making it worse?

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    1. Sean, I've read elsewhere that models and actors are frequently among the most insecure people precisely because they are CONSTANTLY being judged on their looks and physique. That has to take a toll on a person, especially when their job requires that they project a level of confidence they might not actually feel. In Claflin's case, the minute it was revealed that he was to play Finnick in Catching Fire (a character described in the book as being the gorgeous, ideal man), people started to complain online, saying he wasn't good looking enough to pull it off. I'm not sure if his admissions of insecurity have helped or hindered the cause, but I will say it has helped raise awareness of how this is just as damaging an issue for men as it is for women.

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  2. Thanks Sean, your comment is right, I also was surprised that Sam Claflin would be so worried about his looks and his body type because he already is near the top in both of those categories. In regards to your question, I think that Claflin being open with his opinions and insecurities isn't lowering the amount of insecurities, in fact, I think he is increasing the amount, since he is already a popular and ideal actor. You can read more about his problems of manorexia here:
    http://jezebel.com/even-finnick-doesn-t-think-he-s-attractive-enough-to-be-1466262647

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  3. Hello NDS, I liked your article. I liked the quote “Perfectionism leads to the desire to be good, accepted, perfect and in control -- all of which are prerequisites of anorexia.” I think that quote ties into the section were you talk about diets and working out really well. I found this very interesting, “thirty-eight percent said they used protein supplements, and nearly 6 percent said they had experimented with steroids.” I can see that happening with all of the pictures we see in the media. My question is, have you seen this happen in your life? For example have you seen someone dieting and working out to the point it becomes obsessive?

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    1. Hello EvanMinsk, thanks for commenting, and I appreciate you taking the time to read my article. I do believe that the quote about perfectionism can be a cause of insecurity, which then can lead to various types of problems, and in this case, anorexia. Personally, I have seen many males work out, taking protein supplements, and most of these guys are athletes. However, I don't know anyone who has used steroids, since the percentage is so small. I have seen people who have been very interested into their own fitness and bodies, however, to the point of obsession? No, not really, nothing too drastic. If you want to know more about how this obsession can form, check out here:
      http://www.anad.org/news/when-working-out-shifts-from-a-healthy-habit-to-obsession/
      While this article talks about girls, this still happens for boys, and the obsession forms in the same way. Once again, thanks for your comment.
      -NDS

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  4. Interesting article, NDS! There certainly appear to be some serious eating disorders affecting young men's health. Do you believe that the increase of attention being paid to photo-shopping and portrayal of ideals in the media is leading to or will lead to far less image manipulation? Thanks for your discussion of this topic -- Ms. Riches 

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    1. Hello Jane Riches, thanks for commenting on my article, and I believe that the increased amount of attention to these changes in the media for idealizing males will lead to less manipulation, however, I don't think that the effect will be shockingly large. I believe that lots of most athletes still need these improved bodies, so that they can succeed in their sports, and athletes are more prominent members in society and media. You can read more about that here:
      http://sportsanddrugs.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=001240
      This site talks about teens who use steroids or some other PED (performance enhancing drugs), and how they can be affected by athletes. Once again, thanks for the comment!
      -NDS

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  5. Hi NDS,
    Women's body issues are what's usually talked about, and you did a good job about stating how the ideal image of a man is just as hard to achieve. It's really quite sad how the use of steroids and protein supplements are used because teenagers are so focused on this ideal body image. The main cause of eating disorders and motivation for a better body in women come from the media, would you say the same is for men?
    -Soccer9

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    1. Hi Soccer9,
      First of all, thanks for commenting. I agree that it is saddening that teens are using these body manipulators just because of a morphed ideal image. I think that the media is an influence of men, and it does have an effect on how they treat their bodies, but also, athletes around them, just people running around the streets, for example, can also have an affect. Seeing people exercise can make men and boys feel insecure and self-conscious about their body. Here is an article that talks about this:
      http://sportsanddrugs.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=001240
      This article talks about how athletes effect males thoughts.
      Thanks, again, for commenting.
      -NDS

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  6. Hi NDS! There is an article article in the latest Atlantic that discusses the pressures on adolescent males to achieve a more ideal body image. Two scary bits of information are that 6% of those surveyed in a 2012 study admitted to using steroids to gain the right kind of weight and 10.5 % said they used some other type of muscle-building mixture that may contain substances that are not regulated. This confirms some of your arguments and supports your thesis about the negative effects of weight loss and body-building on health.

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