May 31, 2010

"Real men" like to get Spanx'd: masculinity, body image and advertising

That’s right, since Spanx released a new line of “shapewear” or “profile-enhancing underwear” for men in February, the “body compressing” tanks, crews and v-necks have become undeniable “retail hit,” as reported in the New York Times. Thanks to Spanx, men can be cool, classic and contained. But Spanx isn’t the only company tapping into men’s growing insecurities about their midsections. According to the New York Times article, Equmen, Sculptees and RiptFusion have also released popular products for men, including a sort of  (ssshh) “push-up bra” for men.

While these expensive products are racking up sales, most guys keep this new line of roll squishing undies on the down-low. In fact, online sales outweigh in-store sales. Why all the hush-hush shopping for such these hot new retail products?

Publicly fretting about your midsection isn’t “manly.” That stuff is for girls and women. While rates of muscle dysmorphia, the body image disorder most commonly associated with men, have been discussed for years the truth is that all manner of body obsessions commonly associated with women have come to increasingly impact men. From increasing rates of eating disorders and plastic surgery to increased consumer sales of “manlydiet foods and men’s workout boosters, it is clear that unhealthy body preoccupations are not just for girls and women anymore.


April 17, 2009

A player is not born…

…he is made.

According to the website, Become A Player, men can learn the secret tools of the trade and “evolve” into a “real man” by becoming “a player” on this self-proclaimed “seduction mega-site.” One can learn some interesting things by browsing through this site and I am not talking about the men. I’m referring to heterosexual women.  This site is the first one out of 153,000,000 that Google pops up in the organic search when you search “how to become a player.” 153,000,000! And this site is tops.

So, what does this site offer?

Tips and tricks, a rule book, products that teach men how to become an “alpha male” (“how a strange discovery by a 22 year-old virgin can hypnotically draw women to you”), how to double their dating, boost their confidence, meet women online, learn the “seduction science,” “sexual mastery,” “deep inner game,” the art of approaching, and a guide that proclaims to teach men “all about women.”  The site also offers personal coaching and pick-up lines.  All this in order to “double your dating” and “evolve” into a “real man,” “the alpha male” that “the most beautiful women want.”  The banner at the top features a man with three women in line waiting for his attention.  This is the last stage of evolution.  The stage before is a man on his knees apparently begging a woman for her attention.  THAT is not a real man.He’s a pathetic creep with half a dick.  A real man is the cocky male that has his pick of the litter so to speak.  In fact the site even offers “cocky humor” for the budding cock-to-be.

Now, while this is interesting, slightly nauseating and, in many ways, down right stupid and silly men are clicking on this site and this site is not much different than the messages boys and men receive across the culture.  The main difference is that the site offers these messages in one concentrated package. And the messages, lame or gross as they might be, are similar to the messages heterosexual girls and women receive except with a twist.

Girls and women learn how to find and keep a man. How to please a man.  How to find a man to have a relationship with. Heterosexual men, on the flip side of the same gender socialization coin, learn how NOT to have a relationship.  Rather, they learn how to be independent, cocky players that bed multiple women at the same time or over time.

That’s why I say women have a lot to learn from this site. It helps explain why the men they are trying to “catch” or “trap” behave the way they do.  All around them, these boys and men learn how to avoid a relationship, that they should avoid a relationship and seek to sleep with as many women as possible.  Given these divergent and contradictory messages I can’t help but wonder how most heterosexual couples work. Oh, right, most don’t.


Go check out the site and pick up any “lad mag.”