Media Monday: Marketing Masculinity

TEPF Volunteer Andy

I have become so desensitized to unrealistic
portrayals, objectification, and sexualization of the human body that I hardly
notice it anymore. In high
school, dietary supplement marketing led me to believe these supplements were a
key to Herculean musculature and a sex appeal that would make Casanova furious
with envy.

The dietary supplement industry capitalizes on
the concept of the ‘alpha male.’  The
alpha male gets first dibs on all the ladies, or so it was conveyed to me.  The alpha male, with his 22″ arms, 8-pack abs, 2% body fat, 56″ chest, 32″ waistline, perpetual tan, oiled
body, and curious hairlessness is respected and feared by his male peers, while
being desired by women.

Unfortunately for blossoming adolescent males,
achieving this physique is neither practical nor healthy.  It’s also nearly impossible.  Consider that an 8-pack of abdominals defies
basic anatomy and we can begin to understand the power of denial.

Over time, having been barraged by a constant
onslaught of perfectionism, always just out of reach but tantalizingly conveyed
as achievable, young men begin to feel like they are climbing up an oiled
rope.  Just when we think we have gained
that Herculean state, something makes us “slip” in that we are made
to feel an everlasting sense of inadequacy.
This made me angry in high school, which in turn
left me in a blind rage, pursuing an unachievable and seriously unhealthy goal
for a number of inappropriate reasons.

Dietary supplement marketing hasn’t changed much
since my eyes were opened to the marketing tactics of many companies. The important thing is that something opened
my eyes.  For me, it was a friend,
someone who introduced me to the idea that real food is superior to supplements.

I still frequent the gym and I commonly observe young men there, blind and frustrated, trying desperately to realize an impossible and harmful dream.  You don’t need an 8-pack to be respected. What the media tells you about masculinity and sexuality is backed primarily by greed, not an interest in you or your health.

Wake up.