The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue was released this week, and in a shocking turn, featured its first-ever plus size model Ashley Graham on one of its 3 alternate covers. Another of those covers featured renowned UFC fighter Ronda Rousey. In a step away from the usual focus on slender and busty model stereotypes, the magazine is jumping on the body diversity bandwagon showing women with all shapes, sizes, and musculatures. Most of the issue is the standard stuff you expect featuring the likes of Gigi Hadid, Lily Aldridge, and Chrissy Teigen among others, but placing its most body diverse choices ever on two of its covers shows that SI is redefining what America considers sexy. And that's great.
It got me thinking about the men's side a bit. Many people may not realize it, but men's magazines and pretty much all media celebrate a certain body type: the lean athletic figure. You know, the one that's not too muscly like Mr. Olympia Arnold Schwarzenegger but not nerd-boy slim like Saved By The Bell era Screech. GQ's recent Body Issue cover featuring an underwear-clad Cristiano Ronaldo was a reminder to all of us to get our asses to the gym. But it was also a reminder that this impossibly chiseled professional athlete was the standard of fit in our society. Let's face it. Most of us will never look like that. Unless we drop all of our interests, favorite foods, and social lives to devote every waking minute to looking hot. I don't think Sports Illustrated is the only magazine that should be celebrating all body types. The world of men's magazines needs to follow suit.
1. We're tired of being compared to this.
Celebrities, models, and athletes are paid to be fit. They are not pursuing a fit life as an extracurricular activity and have access to a lot of means to accelerate said fitness level. I'd love to see if they were still this freaking fit after working a 50-hour week and spending 2 hours a day commuting.
2. Especially when a lot more of us look like this.
You have probably never seen this photo of Matt Damon from The Informant because our favorite mags only show him as super fit Jason Bourne. I'm sure this "more to love" version is pretty kickass too.
3. We want to see more realistic reflections of everyday men.
Like this guy, Zach Miko. He was Target's first-ever plus size male model. This was a huge move for such a massive company. A small victory and a tremendous step in the right direction.
4. We still want to be healthy.
As men, our life expectancy is 5 years less than that of women. And much of the male population is plagued with numerous health issues ranging from heart disease to diabetes. I'm not suggesting a free pass to become a slob. I'm just asking for a little reality.
5. We just don't want to feel pressured to join the spornosexual cult.
You've heard about spornosexuals, right? This is the latest buzz word created to describe a sect of the male population that enjoys working out to the point of obsession. Which is what we'd have to do to look like Zac Efron or Cristiano Ronaldo.
6. Because the Abercrombie zombie is dead.
Abercrombie & Fitch stood firmly upon a platform of six pack abs until sales started to decline. Now, you're lucky to see a bare collarbone on one of their shopping bags. The whole perfection shtick starts to get old after awhile.
7. And you can be the picture of health without looking like a physique competitor.
Our health should be about prolonging our lives and staying pain/disease-free. We shouldn't feel the pressure to join an Ironman competition to feel accomplished. Be okay with running 3 miles in 30 minutes or making it through a 60-second plank. As long as you feel good and live long, that's all that matters.
8. People think male body image isn't a thing.
But the truth is there are just as many body stereotypes for men as there are for women. Guys pretend to be less affected by it. The media doesn't dedicate a lot of time to covering it. But it's there. It's a real thing.
9. Men take things to the extreme, too.
Remember that episode of MTV's True Life where Brian (pictured above) was using steroids for faster muscle gains so he could win a hot body competition at a club? Many men go to extremes to reach the perceived perfect body and have suffered from anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorders as well as costly and risky obsessions with plastic surgery.
10. We need a culture of inclusion.
Remember The Full Monty, a movie in which the everyman reinvented himself as an object of desire? We can all do the same. Don't compare yourself to unrealistic definitions of what it means to be attractive or masculine. Be healthy. Be happy. Be safe. Be you.