By Jan Creaser
I wonder how many little boys feared they might wake up and realize that overnight they were transformed from puny runts in the throes of adolescence into tall, handsome and super-hero strong MEN, in capital letters. How many cowered in terror imagining their chests might suddenly bulge out of their hooded sweatshirts? Which ones dreaded their parents would approach them cautiously, afraid to make them face the horrific truth about their suddenly grotesquely beautiful bodies, to make them face the reality of what Clark Kent suffered daily: Superman Syndrome?
Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Of course, little boys don’t sprout into MEN overnight–they sometimes sprout into bean poles, but not Superman. However, little boys do dream of being strong, handsome and manly–how could they not with good ol’ Clarkie whoopin’ it up saving the world? Apparently, this caught the attention of the media. "Are boys working out too hard?" questions a U.S. news channel. "Are they going to hurt themselves by trying to lift too much in the gym?" To help parents out they offer tips for teaching boys what’s a realistic body image.
Funny, haven’t girls struggled with anorexia, fears of being ugly, unfashionable and therefore unloved for years? Maybe now that body image is a boys’ issue, society can face the real culprit: an unwillingness to reject the marketers who tell us what our "realistic" body image is. Maybe now the guilt of imperfection foisted on the unsuspecting as they are bombarded by a mass marketing blitz–one that’s taken over girls’ and women’s lives for years–will be revealed. Women have bought the creams, the makeup, the thigh masters and every other miracle cure under the sun–for wrinkles, cellulite, obesity–in an attempt to appease society’s desire for forever-young skin and tight buttocks.
It’s with mixed pleasure that I say: welcome, men, to the unreachable stereotypes of success, so twisted by years of consumerism and Hollywood’s manipulation that we can barely recognize the original intent of happiness without the fear of not being "good enough"–whatever that is. When you wake up each morning and realize you’re not muscled enough, not smooth enough, not dressed in the right clothes and you feel an anxiety attack so big coming on that you want to crawl back into bed and eat cookie dough from the package, remember it’s just an illusion created by neon lights and creepy, hyperactive marketers trying to get your consumer dollar.
You can’t buy your body or build a completely fulfilling life by lifting weights, just like women can’t gain control by fitting into a size zero when they’re five-foot-nine. Oh, yeah, and you’ll never be Superman.