I wonder if anyone else watched this on Channel4 last night. Was on fairly late. All about how men are becoming obsessed with how we look as we are bombarded on a daily basis with images of the perfect male body in magazines, underwear packaging, TV, etc, etc.
So a journalist called Tim Shaw sets out on a journey of self-discovery to change his body, look at what’s out there, talk to other men – some of whom are happy in their bodies, most of whom aren’t, etc. To quote Channel4:
Tim begins his quest to transform himself from superslob to superman in just eight weeks. The 35-year-old journalist, husband and father of two is 6 foot 5 and weighs 14 stone 7 pounds, and describes himself as a ‘skinny fat bloke’ with a beer belly, hairy back, man boobs and ‘an obsession with the size of my knob’.
First, Tim focuses on his chest as he tries to turn his man boobs into the sort of pecs you see on the poster boys. Along the way, he meets men who take their desire to get bigger and buffer to frightening extremes – including steroid abuse and surgery.
Tim also hears locker room tales; anything from moobs to shaving your privates. Source.
This guy is the absolute male equivalent of Anna Richardson who is another TV journalist who does exactly this role in the more mainstream (women focused) docs, such as Supersize vs Superskinny, where she tries all sorts of mad fad diets to get her own weight down (most people would hardly describe her as overweight in the first place). Anyway, Tim is your archetypal Stella swilling, takeaway chomping, footballing, ‘man about town’ Jack-the-lad that’s just the right side of not being a chav. A Loaded guy, if you like.
Whilst it was an interesting hour of TV and there really isn’t much else on at 10pm on a Thursday, I did think it a bit OTT this guy going on about how much he disliked his body. He was 6ft5 and 14.5 stone. That’s hardly the Michelin Man. And I’ve got bigger manboobs than he has. Even his wife said she was perfectly happy with his body.
That said, it was an interesting doc because that guy’s own inhibitions (assuming he was being genuine) reveal latent body dismorphia (how we distort what we see in the mirror from reality) and how he thought he was fat and all the rest of it, when really he wasn’t. I thought he had a perfectly decent body (yes, a hairy chest, but that is not a bad thing – he was hardly a werewolf).
I myself have been known to flit between feelings of obesity through to feeling horribly aggrieved when I crash diet and close friends refer to me as ‘painfully thin’. But I rather imagine I have latent insecurities derived from singledom and all the rest of it. If I were happily married with children I would probably give much less of a ****. And no, I’m not about to marry, nor have children. I do occasionally reach periods during which I’m happy with my body, but much of the time I’m trying to improve it. Can’t really deny that.
There is an interesting article on the C4 website where Tim is interviewed and he talks quite candidly about male body image, also vs female body image which is a much more open and widely discussed subject. I found that quite interesting and certainly do agree with his description of gym obsessed (well, they’re basically self-obsessed) male gym bunnies who we have all seen in the gym:
How did you find the process of making Extreme Male Beauty?
It was a brilliant educational experience, and sticking to that exercise regime and diet for eight weeks felt like such an achievement. But not all of what I learnt was positive. Before I did the show, I looked at guys who were in the gym all the time and I thought they were just good guys – that they looked after themselves and were healthy. Now I know that a lot of them are self-obsessed and bordering on psychopathic. I had a guy who came up to me while I was working out and told me to get out of the way of the mirror so he could see his reflection. Women, if you want to be with a guy like that, go for a guy with a gym membership. They spend 90% of the day thinking about themselves. Source.
I should add that there was also an excess of ‘meat and 2 veg’ on display both from him (brave! you wouldn’t catch me doing that) and other guys they focused on. Channel4 do love titillating don’t they? Nudity is practically their calling card.
Somewhat tangentially, I am rather prone to watching the documentaries of Gok Wan, another C4 stalwart. You know he had his own huge battle with weight as a teenager? He was 20 stone once (he’s now about 11.5 stone if I recall correctly).
I digress. Moving on – Tim used a chest expander which helped him increase the size of his pecs and reduce his manboobs. May be worth trying. I remember using them at school when others had them.
Would you like to know what’s being covered in the next episode of Extreme Male Beauty?
Having spent two weeks trying to increase the size of his pecs, in tonight’s show Tim turns to a more personal project: getting a bigger penis.
Penis enlargement ops are hugely on the increase, and Tim sits in on the very latest procedure in which a man has an artificial filler, previously used for boob jobs, injected into the shaft of his penis. Tim also tries out a variety of gadgets and exercises that claim to make your penis bigger – from pumps to stretchers, and heads to the locker room for an all-male chat, to find out if the average man is worried about the size of his manhood. Source.