Forget the “thigh gap,” one of this summer’s new hot, new body parts is found on men. Men with a very low percent body fat, that is. The rest of you have it but we can’t see it. It’s not a body part you train, a muscle you work to get bigger, instead it’s a ligament you reveal through thinness.
How weird is that? For men, that is. I blogged here about men and body comfort and my fear that men and women now both face considerable pressure to conform to a certain body type and size. The days when men could care or not care without paying a price are over.
See How to Flash the Flesh this Summer.
Along with the “under bum” and “hipster” and the “upper crop top abdomen” for the women, there’s the “inguinal crease” to aspire to for the men.
“Popeye biceps and Chippendale pecs are so very over. The trophy body part for the 2014 male is the inguinal crease: the v-shaped dip between the waist and groin. This is nothing new – Michelangelo’s David had it going on – but after a slow buildup (think D’Angelo, and Brad Pitt in Fight Club, and David Gandy modelling Dolce & Gabbana), this year they are everywhere. (See: David Beckham’s underwear adverts.) What’s interesting is that this is not a muscle, but a ligament – in other words, to expose it requires not building muscle, but losing fat. Men’s Health magazine reports that for an optimal inguinal crease, you need to get down to between 5% and 8% body fat. The inguinal crease craze is, in other words, the size zero scandal reinvented for men.”
See Men’s Health, Building a Bigger Action Hero: “A mere six-pack doesn’t cut it in Hollywood anymore. Today’s male stars need 5 percent body fat, massive pecs, and the much-coveted inguinal crease – regardless of what it takes to get there. ”
“For much of Hollywood history, only women’s bodies were objectified to such absurd degrees. Now objectification makes no gender distinctions: Male actors’ bare asses are more likely to be shot in sex scenes; their vacation guts and poolside man boobs are as likely to command a sneering full-page photo in a celebrity weekly’s worst-bodies feature, or go viral as a source of Web ridicule. A sharply defined inguinal crease – the twin ligaments hovering above the hips that point toward a man’s junk – is as coveted as double-D cleavage. Muscle matters more than ever, as comic-book franchises swallow up the box office, in the increasingly critical global market. (Hot bodies and explosions don’t need subtitles.) Thor-like biceps and Captain America pecs are simply a job requirement; even “serious” actors who never aspired to mega-stardom are being told they need a global franchise to prove their bankability and land Oscar-caliber parts.”
There’s long been pressure on men to get bigger, build muscle, and bulk up–see my post Do girls get a bulking season?. I know this firsthand from parenting a teenage athlete who lifts weights, worries about protein intake, and looks at the numbers going up on the scale with pride.
But now men are both supposed to build a ton muscle and lose a lot of body fat. How healthy is that? I think around here we know the answer, “not at all.” Magazines that seemed geared to male audiences, here’s looking at you Outside Online–are sounding the alarm bells. See Victory V’s Don’t always Mean Victory. The piece starts with a message familiar to many women, “There’s more to life than chasing definition in certain muscle groups. Maintaining a healthy weight, for instance.”
11 thoughts on “Men, meet normative thinness”
Hmmm. This seems far less subtle than the ways women are encouraged to strive for the ideal. ‘“A mere six-pack doesn’t cut it in Hollywood anymore. Today’s male stars need 5 percent body fat, massive pecs, and the much-coveted inguinal crease – regardless of what it takes to get there.”‘…imagine the outrage if an issue of women’s health did the same kind of thing in regards to the feminine ideal? Ugh! Hopefully since it’s so blatant it might be easier for men to realize that it’s an ideal and not necessarily a realistic one…
Yuk! promise I will never judge any man on his inguinal lack or presence. I’d rather not even hear about that obsession. Too sad if we have come this far and have gone backwards.
I had no clue about this, to be honest. I guess I just thought that the guys in the gym “going for this” were naturally thin, male models or bodybuilders. It never occurred to me that younger men in general might be under the same or similar pressure as women to become thin to the point of being unhealthy (which even with women I’ve only really learned from this site and then more by talking to women about it.) This could become quite problematic, as men have a strong tendency to get militaristic, aggressive with others, very judgmental and very vocal about things when under pressure to conform, in my opinion, even more so than women. Fortunately, they also have the ability to say: “f$^k that” and “who gives a sh*t?”, quite easily, at the end of the day. 🙂
Meh….I’d rather carry a few extra pounds of fat on me to make sure my (very important) internal organs are protected when training and racing.
Yuck! I do not like the look of this at all! Sure, what woman isn’t attracted to a healthy looking man? But I stress HEALTHY! Having body fat is not only good for those internal organs, but for the brain and protecting the spinal cord etc. Health people! Health!
The V has been attractive to women of my acquaintance for years (which I say to emphasize that it’s not just some new, made-up trend like Men’s Health’s journalism suggests), and in my experience it’s substantially easier to maintain than the six-pack (a man really doesn’t need low body fat to have some nice definition for the V; he just needs to avoid having high body fat). So men who were already working towards the six-pack will get this on the way. Men who didn’t care before don’t have some new, harder standard; they actually have a new goal which is probably easier. As we can see from the picture at the end of the post: he has no six-pack, but he definitely has the V.
As far as athletic performance goes, this is what I’ve heard from fairly serious coaches: in men, 6-7% BF will probably require some performance sacrifices. Around 10% or so? Performance gets a lot better. But having substantial body fat is certainly not an advantage.
Also, I’d like to point out that it’s pretty unkind of the other commenters to say “yuck” to this. No obligation to find any other person’s body attractive, of course, but if we’re wanting to say that fat people shouldn’t hear their bodies talked about as gross or whatever, then certainly neither should lean people.
Agree completely about the body shaming. Body acceptance and respect all round please. Thanks for pointing it out.
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