Most ladies can agree that a man in a uniform is always attractive. Whether he is a firefighter, businessman, police officer, or in the military, that uniform drives their attractiveness so high up. And most of the time, when anyone thinks about men in these roles, they think of tall, dark and handsome with six-pack abs that are well-toned and rock-hard. When many women think of businessmen, they automatically think about GQ, or when they think about firefighters, the image of “the sexy firemen” pops into their mind. But what about our bigger men in uniforms?
Did you know that you can legally be fired for being bigger? According to AOL, legally, if you are obese, you might be protected under the Americans with Disabilities act, however, if you are just on the curvier side, you can be fired or employers by refuse to hire you. In the military, according to Slate Magazine, if a man is 27 years old or younger, they must have a body-fat percentage below 26%. Is it really fair to turn away willing young men from serving our country because they are curvy? That doesn’t stop employers from rejecting individuals.
AARP wrote an article where Rebecca Puhl, director of research at Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity said, “In the workplace, it results in inequitable hiring practices, prejudice from employers, lower wages, discriminatory action and wrongful termination.” Curvy men are being discriminated for being big in almost every industry. Those sexy firemen, military men, businessmen and police officers are there, and they aren’t being discriminated against.
Although the military is a place where you think of all men to be fit, that is not necessarily the case. And even though they have rigorous training, not all of the men there are comfortable in their skin. According to Erik Gunderson, a researcher from the U.S. Navy Neuropsychiatric Research Unit, more than sixty percent of men in the navy are dissatisfied with their body weight.
Discrimination is not only race these days. Men and women are being discriminated against because of their body size no matter how qualified they are for the jobs they apply for. It’s time we stop only thinking about men in uniform as handsome men with chiseled abs, but when real men, who have curves, and who want to help our country. Be the one to stand up for curvy men, and help stop this discrimination.
Gunderson, E. (n.d.). Body Size, Self Evaluation and Military Effective. Retrieved December 3, 2014. <http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/603578.pdf>
With the Victoria Secret Fashion Show right around the corner, the effect that the “angels” of Victoria’s Secret have on viewers’ body image needs to be discussed. Every year, people all over the world watch this fashion show and compare themselves to the almost unattainable goals of the Victoria Secret Fashion Models. Every year, the Victoria Secret Fashion show airs; and every year men drool at the “perfect” models and women become more and more self-conscious of their bodies.
I am guilty of watching the fashion show every year, and I am also guilty of feeling bad about my body once the show has finished. Reading all of the tweets, Facebook posts, and comments on these models has inspired me to finally take a stand against this show. Emily Wilson, a fellow blogger, posted some tweets that she saw on her timeline about the VS Angels. They include:
“Time to starve because VS Fashion Show is the 10th!”
“Nothing can make me feel so inferior as a woman than looking at pictures of VS Angels.”
“Like I don’t even feel upset that I don’t look like a VS Model, I feel suicidal.”
“RIP self esteem.”
These tweets portray the self-esteem issues that individuals have due to the fashion show. As a curvy woman, I am able to back up the feelings of inadequacy and insufficiency after watching this show and looking at the “beautiful” models by society’s standards. They have gorgeous faces, flat stomachs, long limbs, and perfect smiles. In last year’s VS Fashion Show, Angel Adriana Lima stated that her routine before the show consisted of not eating any solid food for 9 days before the show, working out twice a day, and drinking a gallon of water a day. For the majority of the population that have jobs, families, and other responsibilities, this is not a normal lifestyle. However, individuals still feel the need to attain the body that the VS Angels have. This unattainability creates self-criticism and a lowered self-esteem for curvier women, especially.
The media portraying these Angels as perfect, beautiful, and flawless enhances the typical body ideal, which according to Smeesters (2009) is not attainable for nearly 98% of the population (p.932). The media’s pressure for all women to look like this, even when unattainable, is wreaking havoc on female self-esteem and pressuring women to go on dangerous diets to change their body shape. In a study done by Smeester (2009) titled, The Effects of Thin and Heavy Image on Overweight and Underweight Consumers, it was found that the sociocultural norms that we have created as a society on thinness have a significant impact on women’s dissatisfaction with their bodies. These Victoria Secret Angels reinforce this “thinness= beauty” ideal that society has created. This study also came to the conclusion that exposure to images like the Victoria Secret Angels leads women in our society to measure their self-worth by their appearance.
While thinner girls are also impacted heavily by these models, curvier girls have a larger speedbump to overcome in order to obtain higher self-esteem. For some curvy girls, they will never have the flat stomach or perfect curves that these Victoria Secret Angels have, which could lead them to have even lower self-confidence.
Once reading these blog posts and scholarly article, I have realized that I do not need to be striving to be an Angel. Each person is beautiful the exact way that they are, and should not feel bad about themselves based on what our society tells us.
Men and women need to realize that these Victoria Secret Angels are not the norm; nor will they ever be. Yes, the Angels should be idolized for their success, self-confidence, and happiness in their own skin. However, the population needs to start focusing on this aspect of the Angels, rather than the beauty and “skinny” aspect.
Curvy women are beautiful. Skinny women are beautiful. Larger men are beautiful. Muscular men are beautiful. Victoria Secret Angels are beautiful. It should not matter what the size of our clothes are. Beauty needs to start being determined from our character.
G.I. Joe is an action-hero figure that many individuals grew up with, especially boys. Just as the Barbie doll has been an iconic toy in our culture, G.I Joe has been just as important within our society. Intern Counselor, Marc Silva, at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, posted a personal article onto their Student Resources page in order to help students’ receive counseling. His article is titled, “Body Image Dissatisfaction: A Growing Concern Among Men.” Silva reports on multiple statistics and issues that are facing men- especially body image. He states, “Over the past 20 years, the G.I. Joe toys have grown more muscular and currently have sharper muscle definition.” Thousands of curvier males grew up with this G.I. Joe action figure, which could give them an unrealistic and unhealthy image for themselves.
With G.I. Joe as their role mode, more and more male and female individuals are putting themselves at risk in order to look like this action figure. For instance, G.I. Joe Extreme action figure, if extrapolated to a height of 5’10, would have larger biceps than any bodybuilder in history. Many researchers are worried that an action figure like G.I. Joe pushes people to use the risky muscle-building drugs, such as steroids. Men’s body image concerns have skyrocketed recently, which could easily be caused through the media and what the millennial generation has grown up to.
Phillipa C. Diedrichs completed a study titled, “GI Joe or Average Joe?” In this study, Diedrichs came to the conclusion that the ideal body for men has been transformed over the years through the media. The ideal male body is now characterized by large defined muscles, low body fat, and a v-shaped upper body. Not all curvy males are able to achieve this insane body type, which could cause serious body image issues. These issues could lead to lower self-esteem, which could lead to the illegal use of steroids or over-exercising in order to attain this figure and “bulk up”.
From a curvier women’s perspective, the Barbie Doll has had serious effects on my body image issues as I have grown up. Due to the fact that I have had such issues with the pressure that Barbie has put on myself, I can only imagine how G.I. Joe affects males. Just as Barbie and the media has changed women’s ideal body view, G.I. Joe is just as big of a role model for young men. Not all men need to have the muscle mass that this action figure has, nor do they need to look a specific way. Curvier men are also considered beautiful- not just body builder types. No curvy male needs to feel inadequate due to the pressure that G.I. Joe action figures create.
Diedrichs, P. 2010. GI Joe or average Joe? The impact of average-size and muscular male fashion models on men’s and women’s body image and advertisement effectiveness. Science Direct, 7(3). p. 218-226. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2010.03.004
Body Image Dissatisfaction: A Growing Concern Among Men http://www.msoe.edu/community/campus-life/student-resources/blog/2013/08/21/body-image-dissatisfaction-a-growing-concern-among-men