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oh Boy! Boys are getting it too…

Posted by on Feb 11, 2011 in Blog Posts | 6 comments

After a post last week, with a link to one of my favorite blogs, about body image and talking to kids, some moms (on FB too) commented how boys are getting hit with this too.

I took a photo of this ad that was in the free WebMD (I think) magazine at the doctor’s office. This ad is from an INSURANCE COMPANY! A company that is supposed to promote health and wellness.

The caption says, “Improve. It feels good,” while two teenage boys look at a muscle magazine. The picture of the man on the cover is grotesque (to me) in it’s exaggerated muscle. A body type that is not achievable for probably 97% of the population, and probably steroid enhanced, and if not, probably takes several hours a day of working out, obsessing about intake etc. In short, an image that is every bit as damaging as the dead-eyed pictures of wasting super-models. And I doubt pursuing or achieving this body- “feels good.” With boys increasingly being diagnosed with eating disorders, these are far from benign messages.

Have you seen similar ads? Outrageous, I’d say. I tried to do a little digging to see whom to complain to, but no luck. I’ll keep looking. Moms of sons, are your boys feeling the pressure to conform to impossible standards as well?

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  1. Miranda

    When I was in my late teens, I worked on the reception desk of a small bodybuilding gym for several years, and I can tell you that the obsession men and women (of all ages) had with achieving the ‘perfect body’ was pretty disturbing. Many teenage boys and young men were clearly on steroids,and were totally fixated with ‘bulking up'(getting as muscular as possible). At the same time, they desperately wanted to get ‘ripped’ (where you lose as much bodyfat as possible, so that the muscles stand out and look more sculpted). Almost all of them dabbled in abnormally strict diets, ultra-low in fat and totally unappetising (eg, water-packed tuna,or six boiled egg whites+ steamed vegetable and boiled rice -with absolutely NO added fat or salt-as a typical meal, supplemented by protein shakes, etc). Also, a lot of force feeding went on. You HAD to eat your six meals a day, whether you were hungry or not. It seemed to me like a kind of ‘reverse anorexia’. During the time I was there, I noticed a lot of behaviours and attitudes in people that seemed to have an awful lot in common with eating disorders (extreme body insecurity, rebound bingeing on high fat forbidden foods,working out even during fatigue, illness or injury, preoccupation with food in general…).It was crazy. The worst thing was when a twenty year old guy (who admitted freely that he took steroids)died from vomiting one of his forced meals in his sleep. The sad and pathetic thing was that he really looked awful when he took steroids and got so big. If only he had understood that.
    Another thing I noticed was that many young guys were very influenced by muscle magazines, and various muscle (or karate) guys in the same way that so many women and girls are negatively affected by the perfect images of models in fashion magazines. You see your idol and you want to mould yourself like him or her,which is of course impossible. It’s tragic.

  2. Anne

    Kendra makes a good point. My husband stopped subscribing to Men’s Health a while ago when actual healthy living advice kept getting less and less, pushed aside for more ‘six pack abs and a gun show’ crap. Neither one of us thought that was a good thing to expose our son to. All the usual channels are starting to target boys/men. Nutri-system ads especially – then again they seem to go for the shotgun approach “Female? Male? Senior? Diabetic? None of you are good enough as you are!” So far, I don’t think my son has expressed any pressure to conform to a certain ideal – unless I count the way he demands a haircut when his hair gets the tiniest bit too long. That may just be his own thing though 🙂

  3. JeninCanada

    My son is only four and he’s already caught on to the idea that he needs to be STRONG. Not smart, not compassionate or kind, just strong. This has become the new thing since he started JK in September.

  4. Kendra (Voice in Recovery)

    Yah this is truly a trend seen in all male muscle and fitness mags as well. We often talk about women, but the men are getting pressure for ideal body types as well. But this one is unreal. Thanks for sharing. Will be posting it on ViR.

    • katja

      thanks. Pretty awful stuff. Maybe one of your readers will know whom to send our appropriately outraged correspondence to 🙂