As the title of the post suggests, I could be talking about a phenomenon that actually occurs and has thus been named, but it’s not; and don’t mistake it for the Pygmalion Effect.
No, this is all rooted in that Greek myth you may or may not know; but for those of you who don’t know here is how it goes, roughly:
Pygmalion was a sculptor, and a good one at that. One day, he carved a woman out of ivory, and after that, became disinterested in women. He gazed upon his creation and fell in love with it. On the festive day for Aphrodite, he went to the goddess’ altar, but too scared to say what he wanted, he whispered he wanted a bride like the woman he had carved.
He returned home, kissed the statue he created, and she promptly came to life. They were then married and had a child, or children, depending on which version of the myth you wish to believe.
Now, I’m not talking about us all taking up sculpture work and creating our own loved ones, because let’s face it, it’s not going to happen. But there is just this one aspect of the myth I wish to focus on, and thus expand into the modern age.
Pygmalion, created a woman, so beautiful that there were no earthly rivals to that beauty, and thus, was not interested in the other women he could have freely married.
So fast forward to today. We live in a society that is rapidly being plagued by body image becoming an issue for males, and an increase in diagnosed cases of eating disorders in men, albeit, usually homosexual men. That however, doesn’t lessen the blow to the general male populace.
We, the public, have created a need for the media, that awful powerhouse, to create idealised images of men, and women but that’s not who I want to talk about right now, that seldom exist. This is done through photo manipulation. An extra shadow here and there, the ironed out skin, beautiful tans. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are some people like that, but where are your Average Joes?
It’s come to the point that we are subjected to the “sex sells” tactics, and get to ogle men that are plastered in magazines, on billboards and on television. There’s always plenty of talk about being more “body inclusive” but there is rarely action, and I find this damaging.
Yes, we could go down the route of “You’re only like that because you’re fat”, and yes, I admit, I am of the larger variety, but I put my body through significant weight loss a few years ago, but it was never enough. I started out as doing it for my health, but it soon became about vanity the more attention I got on social media.
As men, we are less likely to talk about how we feel, especially heterosexual men, and in some instances, when it comes to homosexual men. There is this idea that it is shameful to show weakness, no matter how effeminate or masculine one aligns themselves to be. There is a toxic atmosphere, that is all to do with shame. This is not my idea however, it’s lifted from The Velvet Rage, which I encourage any homosexual male to buy and read, because it answers a lot of those questions you’re too afraid to ask.
Back on point though, there is definitely this love for this toned Adonis to be in our lives, that, if truth be told, probably won’t ever be in our lives, and even if they were, the shallowness of our pool wouldn’t be enough to fill a thimble if you value looks over intelligence.
Body image has been greatly effected by the media, and it only gets worse, with “regular” guys being relegated to online media or zines with a limited and niche audience. This is simply because we’ve been conditioned for so long to think that carrying some extra weight is bad for you. I may be out of breath if I run up six flights of stairs (which is a hazard of my job sometimes) but at least I’ll stay warm in the winter…and potentially have a complicated health history but let’s not focus on that just now.
Our body image is rooted in us by now, because the average guy is just not represented on a large scale. The majority would rather share muscly men on social media, that that one with a hair, bigger belly. From the way our hair grows, to the way our dick looks, we have been conditioned to question and hate the parts of us that don’t fit a mould. I do sometimes have hang ups about my body, but I have learnt to accept that it is the body that I created myself, and only I can change it again.
Look out for an upcoming post on how I have come to terms with my body, and what I know I can do to change it.