Essay: Men’s Body Image

By | April 28, 2011

Sample Essay

While men are generally unsusceptible to body image stigmas, some common grooming traits are found to be prevalent in their quest for beauty. Certain features such as hair are of prime concern to the male psychic. Such has been the case throughout history. Hair loss has been a natural cause of concern for males (reportedly 20% of men suffer from it during their 20s) whereas both long hair and short hair have seen their prime and plight.

From the 1840-1860, for example, growing one’s hair long was considered part of the fashion trend (Luciano, 2002). Later on, they were frowned upon and considered inappropriate for formal gatherings as America was swept with moderate looks brought about by industrialization. Up until the latter half of the 20th century, the notion depicting long hair as feminine and undesirable remained prominent.

Wavy hair itself did not see much favoritism in the early 20th century as it was either a result of a professional stylist or an extremely wet comb. It was also expected that hair was parted to the side and not through the middle as that was a feminine trait. Throughout this period, the media was adamant at providing products for the upkeep of hair focusing more on hair loss than anything else. Providing shine and gloss was the least of a man’s worries (Luciano, 2002).

With regards physical fitness, the earlier part of the 20th century saw commitment to the same by men mostly in preparation for war or military endeavors. America in this era was gripped with industrial change of paramount proportions and young men were increasingly subject to urbanization stress a little too much to care for physical exertion. However, with mounting urgencies of urbanization, exercise became a key ally for a healthy lifestyle as “Gilded Age America struggled with the evils of urbanism and sedentary lifestyles” (Luciano, 2002).

Pre 1970s, however, opportunities were limited as half the population lived in the Northeast towns which did not have the requisite incentives. In due time playgrounds, YMCAs, and sports programs designed to make exercise an acceptable part of city life surfaced. They helped reinvigorate much of the lost concern for healthcare.

Body building did not come about up until the turn of the century, where strongmen were seen to engage in muscle building in order to represent what America stood for.  It was a matter of national pride and international representation more than anything. Men bulge their biceps and showcased their strengths in public only as a spectacle and became mostly confined to carnivals, restricting their spread to other classes of the society.

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