Thursday, 1 August 2013

Men and body image

Last night and on quite late at 11pm there was a programme on Channel 4 presented by The Last Leg's Alex Brooker in which he sought to gain his perfect body in just 8 weeks.

It was a look at the male perception of body image and how in the past 20 years of so men have become as obsessed, if not more so, than women to achieve the perfect body as sold to them to the media. It appears that a lot of men, and male adolescents actually are unhappy with the shape they are in.

The programme if you haven't seen it is available on 4OD for the next month and raises serious questions about men and how they perceive their bodies; gay or straight.

Confession time:

Am I 100% happy with my body? The answer to that is no.

Would I like to improve it? The answer would be yes.

Would I go to any ends to achieve this, plastic surgery or extreme dieting. The answer there would be no. But there is reasons for my answers to all of the above.

In my late teens and early twenties my body mass index would actually have measured me as being on the verge of being underweight. Not because I was starving myself, far from it I had a healthy diet and appetite. But I was burning all that food off by being a long distance runner with a training regime to match. Now of course I'm not running 45-60 miles a week during the winter months, nor am I capable of running 10ks in 30 to 33minutes.

However, I do know that even I have let my weight slide a little bit more than even I would like. My body mass index is slap bang in the middle ground of being normal weight, but I know there are bits of me that carry the weight more than others. My arms and legs almost look like they did when I was in my prime, there is no or little excess weight there. Instead all the extra is located on torso especially my waist line. Last summer for the first time since I was 15 I had to buy trousers that didn't have a 32 inch waist. For me that was devastating. I had been a regular 32/32 trouser measurement for all of my adult life and suddenly the stockpile of trousers didn't fit me.And as a result some of my suit combos were no longer wearable.

That was one of the reasons I set myself the target to get back into running. I knew I wouldn't scale the heights of my twenty year younger self, but I wanted to achieve the one goal I had yet to do and that was to run a full marathon. So I set about getting back into running and it was tough, tougher than I ever remember it in the past. At the start I just couldn't do it. My brain was telling me I should be better than this but my body kept saying no.

Does that mean I have body image issues? Maybe in a bit but I am realistic that the me that smiles out of photographs on from Malta, Spain, USSR or Orlando is not the goal. I know that is unachievable without having to give up way too much. But carrying a little less of the flab is what I want to do for the sake of my health. You see I am heading to that milestone in the Glenn male line five-o. As my father used to say getting past that line for him every year was a bonus, he picked up only 14 of them though. I want to give myself as much chance of getting there and beyond.

However, the question I have to ask myself, is did my 20 year old self look at himself and think he was too fat? In a way he did, a little less weight to carry around the track might have improved my times, I would have to have worked out how I could have done it and still kept the strength. But I do remember at times (especially when I was out with injury) thinking that I was getting too heavy when I clearly wasn't. The pressure didn't so much come from others back then, it just came from my perfect image of me.

1 comment:

  1. When I was a late teenager, early 20, we had no body image. We were slim, or not so slim. There was no 6 pack, far less an 8 pack. We were athletic or not athletic, fit or unfit.