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