The debate on the size zero model isn't a new thing. Over the last decade, we have seen a surge in campaigns against the size zero and we have even seen some of the biggest fashion houses in the world stop employing size zero runway models.
This I think is largely because of a change in public opinion. We all know that it promotes an unhealthy body image in women. Therefore we don't stand for it. We have seen the news stories, read the articles and had our TV screens graced with the likes of Gok Wan fighting for the "bigger" girl, the "real" woman.
But what about the "real" man?? Who is fighting his corner??
A few months ago, a magazine approached me about taking part in a charity photo shoot. The shoot was to raise money for the National Aids Trust, a worthy cause. There was just one catch; I had to do the entire photo shoot naked.
After the initial excitement at the idea of doing something so risque, the reality of what I had agreed to do began to sink in. I had roughly 7 weeks to prepare.
I picked up the phone and called a PT friend of mine with one simple request. 'Help. I want to be like the guys in Mens Health'. He agreed to help, but only if I followed his workout program to the T. This included 4 training sessions a week and a day by day strict diet plan. Sounds simple enough right??
Over the next few weeks I experienced what fitness models go through on a regular basis. My body ached, I had bad breath from the high protein diet, I craved carbs, I had terrible mood swings and I found that my entire life started revolving around either the gym or eating.
I was determined to see it through, so I continued to push myself. The day of the shoot arrived. I was shattered but I was in the best shape of my life. The shoot went well and I was happy with what I had achieved.
But it did get me thinking. To have and maintain a body like the ones men's magazines portray, I had to dedicate myself to it like it was a full time job. In fact, it WAS a full time job. Surely that 's (Like the Size Zero) unattainable to the majority of men? How can someone maintain that training regime with a family, career, dog etc?
If the images of the size zero model are affecting women's ideas of what real beauty is, surely it's the same for men. Aren't these images of super ripped, oiled up models putting equally as much pressure on men to look a certain way? The difference is, no one is talking about it. Maybe its because men view body image issues generally as a female problem. When in fact, recent studies show it's the opposite. I was shocked to find that 4 out of 5 men are unhappy with their appearance and 38% of men would trade a year of their life to have the body they wanted. Crazy right??
These numbers are worryingly high. So much of societies focus has been on the pressures on women, it seems we have all forgotten something very important. Men need to feel sexy too. Whether short, tall, skinny, fat, bald, grey, it doesn't matter. Its important for us to feel beautiful in the skin we are in. My fear is that the medias saturation of what we consider to be body beautiful is causing another generation of youngsters to strive for the unattainable size zero. Only this time, the size zero is disguised behind solid pecks and a tight 6 pack.
Now, I'm not expecting anyone to jump on an anti 6 pack bandwagon. I love a 6 pack. All I'm saying is, wouldn't it be nice to see a bit more variety?? I'd love to see a Dove real beauty campaign for men. Or see Gok make some "large guy" into a sexy pin up and display it on a billboard. We are once again embracing bigger women as beautiful fashion icons, I want to see some bigger men up there with them to.
Men's Health with Seth Rogan on the cover....I'd buy that.