Celebrating a muscular body goes back millennia. Yet there is one major difference between then and now, namely the role of social media. In our hypervisual age, we’re confronted with perfect bodies 24/7. So we end up becoming obsessed with appearance. Young people in particular are strongly influenced by ideals of this kind. More than that, such ideals are becoming the norm.
If I can do it
Women have experienced the pressures of beauty ideals for years. More recently, however, the bar has been set higher and higher for the male body too. It seems that anyone can achieve a body like Arnold Schwarzenegger, provided they are willing to put in the work and have the necessary #selflove. So bodybuilders and fitfluencers share their regimes online. What exercises they do, how intense, how many reps, what they eat, how many hours they sleep and how often they take an ice-bath. The algorithm does the rest, ensuring that any boy who clicks a few times on pictures of a sculpted body will be swamped with photos and videos screaming that ‘you too can achieve this’.
Just so long as you train enough, eat these protein powders and power bars, and wear this sports gear. Every victory is worth sharing. So, one more selfie with your shirt off, because likes are addictive. There’s no such thing as good enough – you always have to do even better. It’s a perfect recipe for mental health issues like low self-esteem and sports addiction.