Body image is a multidimensional concept that includes the thoughts, feelings, and attitudes related to one’s own body.
Men’s health is regarded as one of the largest men’s magazines, predominantly fitness which is read by men and teenagers all around the world. Headings including; ‘Build a beach body’, ‘Bigger arms now!’ and ‘Gain muscle, lose pounds’ are encouraging men to change their current body weight or size and adapt to the current ‘norm’ of a muscled up model chosen for their minimal body fat percentage.
The lean, fit men portrayed on the magazine covers raise the issue that all men should be fit and toned. If you’re carrying excess bodyweight then you’re outside the ‘norm’ and therefore not included in the current fitness driven society.
“Scholars have begun to examine the increased emphasis on muscularity for men. The current supposition is that a drive to be muscular may be as dangerous for adolescent boys as a drive to be thin is for adolescent girls. Sports, health, and fitness magazines may be a meaningful training ground for adolescents to learn the importance of muscularity and the methods to obtain these perfect sports bodies. Such magazines also reinforce the rewards that accompany the attainment of “perfect” bodies. Nearly 400 high school and college students from an urban area in the Midwest were surveyed to test the extent to which reading fashion, sports, and health/fitness magazines is related to body image and eating disturbances, including the added dimension of muscularity. Results indicate that magazine reading, social comparisons, and critical body image processing are important predictors of body image and eating disturbances for adolescent boys and girls“. (Botta, 2003)
Body image is quite a large epidemic amongst women, especially girls in their teenage years whereas men’s issues about body image are not voiced in the media on an equal scale. The popularity of Men’s Health magazine which promotes fitness also raises awareness in the public mediated sphere of male body image and the importance of accepting a person for their inner beliefs as opposed to their physical appearance. “Public sphere culture is too spectacular. Audiences have short attention spans. They only want flashy visuals and superficial distractions“. (McKee, 2005)
McKee, A, 2005, ‘Introduction: the public sphere: an introduction’ in Public Sphere: An Introduction, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp1-31
Botta, A, 2003, ‘For Your Health? The Relationship Between Magazine Reading and Adolescents’ Body Image and Eating Disturbances, Sex Roles, Vol 48, pp389-398 http://web.psych.utoronto.ca/psy329/Botta_2003.pdf
Rodale Inc, 2014, Men’s Health http://www.menshealth.com/