Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Warning: World Cup Six-Pack ABS May Be Hazardous to a Man's Body Image

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Warning: World Cup Six-Pack ABS May Be Hazardous to a Man's Body Image

Article excerpt

If Cristiano Ronaldo rips off his jersey in the World Cup to reveal the chiseled body underneath, could it inspire worldwide ab rage?

For decades, fashion magazines have made women feel badly about themselves. Now, lots of men have joined the party.

Research has found that when men were shown images of lean, young and muscular men, the male viewers became angrier and more depressed.

"That's exactly correct," said David LaPorte, director of clinical psychology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. "Studies in which they show a bunch of undergraduate males pictures of muscular guys, guess what? Right after that, they feel kind of crappy about themselves."

Men, long considered more comfortable in their own skin, so to speak, aren't immune to evolving cultural standards of hotness.

The gap between men and women concerning how they perceive their own bodies is closing. Men have become more critical of themselves as the male body ideal has become more muscular, cut and lean.

"Over the last decade, there a huge increase of men reporting they are dissatisfied with how they look," said Heather Hausenblas, a Florida-based psychologist, who has studied body image, eating and exercise behaviors. When a cultural standard, such as perceived body ideal, changes within 15 to 20 years, that's a rather rapid pace for social change. LaPorte remembers when the shift began in marketing female images ever skinnier. A few decades later, the male image became more of a "testosterone-fueled monstrosity."

The men most susceptible to this sort of ab envy tend to be younger (teens to 30s), of a higher socio-economic status and more likely to be white than ethnic minorities, Hausenblas says.

I suggested Hausenblas consider the notion of male body image in the context of World Cup soccer athletes. Here we have a regular parade of the most fit male athletes in the world. Isn't that bound to create some ripples in the male psyche?

"I've got a nice picture of David Beckham in my mind right now," she started. …

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