Keeping up with social norms

Luis Bahena

Health and fitness has been a big part of my schedule these past couple of weeks and it thrills me to see all my hard work pay off. I went shopping a few weeks ago and noticed that I had gone down two pant sizes, which made me hop for joy and do my little happy dance.

I was seeing my hard work with both nutrition and fitness pay off, but I couldn’t help but consider the social pressures set forth by society on the male physique.

The previous week I was at the gym running on the treadmill, when I saw a very muscular man leave the gym. I couldn’t help but wonder how heavy that person might be with really big arms (as big as my head).

I’ve always been a strong believer that the heaviest thing you would ever have to carry is yourself, so I never understood the desire of really big arms and chest and quads. I could understand the want for muscular definition, but there’s a point where there is just too much muscle.

Yet, looking back, this has been the model for the male physique since as far as I can remember. You look at your favorite action heroes, and almost all of them are very muscularly built (Rambo, the Terminator, Batman, Superman, etc.). It’s even more exaggerated in comics, with the heroes being so ridiculously ripped and muscularly.

I had to sit back and wonder what instance could possibly require me to be that muscular and brawn. I’m not a vigilante about to take on crime fighting, and I’m not really one to fight a war that isn’t my own. I doubt I’ll ever have to lift a car, and I think it takes more than muscles and brawn to be considered a hero.

Really thinking about it, our species (humans that is) are becoming virtually lazy by relying so much on technology that a lot of muscle has become obsolete. Then again, I think about the movie Wall-E, and I have to admit that it was one of the movies that motivated me to be more physically active.

I think that society constantly forgets how young boys can be affected by social norms just as much as young girls. For years we have complained about how women are pressured to look like models and how Barbie has been their model of the female body, but have ignored how G. I. Joe and male super heroes have the same pressures on men.

How are these pressures any different? There is a pressure for men to have six pack abs, strong chest and big arms just like there are pressures for women to be slender and thin.

I think society goes from one extreme to the next, pushing their versions of beauty through the media (slender models for women and overly muscular male models and action heroes for men), yet at the same time advertising fast food after fast food.

It’s as if the media contradicts itself by pushing these ads of sexy muscularly people and slender models eating burgers (remember the Paris Hilton Carl’s Jr. commercial anyone), yet calling the high rate of obesity in the U.S. an epidemic.

I don’t really plan on getting Rambo size muscular, and although I have always been a fan of Spider-Man, the way he is ridiculously drawn on the comics lately with muscles in every part of his body (even his neck), I find that there is no real need for me to be that in shape.

I would like to rock climb and I think too much muscle would weigh me down as opposed to helping me climb a challenging rock. Perhaps I’m no vigilante or secret agent, but hypothetically, I would really like to survive a zombie outbreak and I follow the rules from the movie Zombieland (lol). Cardio, Double Tap, Bounty? Sometimes, logic and reasoning are enough to make you a hero.

Zombie outbreaks aside, I think I just rather be healthy and fit and live a healthy life, free of fears of type two diabetes, heart disease and other health risks associated with being overweight.