How often do you hear stories of how women and girls are affected by messages in our media? Probably more frequently than we would like to admit as a society. However, what isn’t mentioned as often is how our male counterparts react to the subliminal messages being sent to them.
For females the message is often times subtracting, losing weight, dieting, etc. We see airbrushed, photo-shopped images of women. These images show women with elongated necks, widened eyes, and trimmed thighs and hips. The message to men, on the other hand, is adding. Take action figures and super heroes for example, which have become the male version of Barbie. These figurines are setting unrealistic body dimensions for young boys and set their expectations at an unattainable level. Have you ever watched the beginning of Captain America? The movie starts with Steve Rogers (Captain America) as a “runt” signing up for the military. He shortly after gets chosen to undergo an experiment and is made into what they portray as this macho, muscled, extraordinary man. Obviously, this is fiction, but the instant success Steve Rogers has, and the new found fame under the name Captain America following the transformation still makes an impact on the stigma surrounding male body image. They fail to set a positive role model and hinder the positive development of young males exposed to them. Then when they get older it doesn’t stop.
Magazines, billboards, commercials, and more all show “ripped” men. Men whose abs are practically painted on, muscles that are continuously growing inch by inch in diameter, and a rise in emphasis on manscaping. Some even feel the need to cut out the males faces adding extra emphasis on body appearance. This image, being sent out for all to see and women to drool over, negatively affects men’s body image too. This ideal of having “bulk” or “being built” is an unrealistic ideal that has been created by our society. No matter what the age or gender, the constant subliminal messages are inescapable.Both men and women are vulnerable to these messages. Each and every day something new in the media has a hidden message teaching young and old alike that we are not good enough. It is something that everyone feels, and it is hard to fight back. It is no secret that society adds pressure to appearance, just be aware of the fiction that lies within it, and learn from it.