The Rise And Rise of the Spornosexual
I’m embarking on Walker’s three-month Warrior Workout because I’m investigating men’s bodies. That is, ahem, I’m investigating the trend of men getting increasingly… ripped. Jacked. Pumped. Whatever you call it, it’s a certain type of “fit”. “There’s this big thing now called ‘physique training’,” Walker says. “It’s all about having abs, looking like a fitness model.” It’s a look that has come to prominence in recent years. “It used to be bodybuilding,” Walker adds, “but that look’s unattainable — you have to take steroids. With physique training, instead of spending 10 years trying to build mass, you just get really lean.”
Slight language warning.
I found much of the discussion enlightening from an image ideal perspective. We are all aware of the general changes in the idea of female beauty — Reubens’ rather ‘full figured’ women to todays plastic-busommed Barbie dolls — but most are only passingly familiar with the male changes. Someone wrote an article not long ago about her dismay at the disappearance of the “manly man” from the screen and in real life: Those big, tall, barrel-chested men that were held up as something like the male ideal, such as Robert Shaw in From Russian With Love:
Then we went full-blown bodybuilder:
It’s mediated somewhat to a leaner and not-quite-as-bulky Hugh Jackman as the article notes:
(You’re welcome, ladies)
I, of course, take something of a middle ground. I certainly qualify as a gym rat and I’m certainly buffer than yer average 50-something, but I don’t take it nearly to that extent. Yes, the way I look is a good chunk of why I work out — though not from a “OOooo he’s h.o.t.” perspective (I wish), but more from a general aesthetic one — but it’s also because I don’t want to be limited physically by much of anything. And, you know, it feels great, I like the gym atmosphere, and errrmmmm yes the eye candy is a nice fringe benefit. I don’t have a 6-pack, and don’t really care.
This isn’t really new, someone wrote a book about it a few years ago called The Adonis Complex which is pretty much the same thing. I’m not even sure this is a real different phenomenon from what’s gone on in the past, just a different focus. Different groups used to pay attention to their looks in different kinds of extreme ways; think of the big pompidou’s of the 1950s or the long hair of the 1960s and ’70s or even the zoot suits of the 1940s. Even cigarettes were a form of behavior that gave off social cues.
Frankly, I could think of worse ways for men to be drawing attention to themselves.