When the Boy Models Took Their T-Shirts off, the Women Rushed to Get a Better View
Booth, Lauren, New Statesman (1996)
Some invites can't be refused. And given that ogling men is perfectly acceptable so long as you can say postmodernist feminist without drooling, I went to give the Men's Health cover models the once-over at the Trafalgar Hilton.
The boys on parade, all keen to become this year's symbol of perfect manhood, wore identical jeans and clingy white T-shirts. I heard myself saying: "I feel awful thinking about these young guys as bits of meat--but, oh dear God, look at that one!" It quickly became clear that most of the women, while appreciating the hours of training the models put in, just aren't that attracted to mini-Arnie types. A TV producer downed her champagne. She cast a harsh, agent's eye over the tanned and plucked young men, and then announced: "Gay dwarves, sweetie, do absolutely nothing for me."
I've often laughingly said that all it takes for men to become our slaves are breasts and booze. But biceps and Bolly turn media women into animals. Still, the producer had a point. All of the male models were smaller than expected--around five foot seven or eight. Hearing our comments, an editor on Men's Health felt she had to tell us that "health has no height restriction". Fine, fit men can be less than six foot, but do they all demand that their gym partners pluck their eyebrows before they can train together? Do men into outdoor sports all apply fake tan and shave their chests? Does waxing yourself from head to toe make you a better rugby player? One of the boys had eyebrows so over-plucked he wore a look of pained indignation identical to Lily Savage's.
The champagne was slipping down very easily by the time it came to the judging. "I'm not interested in the result," I sighed, lighting a cigarette. Then the compare said: "The contestants will now take off their shirts, please." Suddenly, a glass smashed and expensive shoes trampled on my toes. …