Is Our Body Obsession Hurting Young Boys?

By: Jase Peeples
7.19.2011

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Bulging biceps, ripped abs, and a chiseled chest—at one time these were the sexy attributes reserved for underwear advertisements. Now that hyper-masculine vision of a well-defined body is used to sell everything from beer to body wash, and that marketing has made an imprint on society's vision of what is considered "hot."

Indeed, for many people, the ideal male body is defined by the size and definition of a man’s muscles. Some could argue that this attitude was popularized by gay male culture, which has always placed high value on a person's face, fashion and physique. The theory goes that this sensibility spread into mainstream culture through the rise of metrosexuality, where straight guys realized they could look and feel better (and get laid more often) if they emulated the look and style of those gay men their girlfriends hung out with.

While there's no easy way to prove that point—though we secretly adore the conspiracy theory-vibe to the whole concept— it does raise a very important question: What kind of message is this sending to young boys?

Body image issues have often been spotlighted in women, both young and old alike, who are seeking to emulate the models and actresses they see on magazine covers or in TV shows and movies, but with men being more sexualized in the media, could the equation of "man + muscles = sexy" be hurting teen boys as well?

A recent report on The Today Show explains that the number of teenage bodybuilding competitors is on the rise. It also takes a look at the growing popularity of bodybuilding teens and the dangers associated with pushing too hard, too fast.

Check it out, then consider the question below.

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