Re: more on bigorexia

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Wed 11 May 2005 - 02:42:38 GMT

  • Next message: Kate Distin: "Re: more on bigorexia"

    --- Bill Spight <> wrote:

    > Dear Scott,
    > > In
    > > a memetic sense, perhaps women have developed an
    > > "immunity" to this targeting of messages preying
    > upon
    > > perceived inadaquacies, where due to taboos
    > against
    > > being open with such things men are highly
    > > susceptible...I dunno.
    > I don't know whether women have developed an
    > immunity, but they
    > certainly seem to be bombarded with messages
    > carrying such implications,
    > don't they?
    Well since women have been targeted for so long with the fashionn, diet and beauty aid stuff some of them might have developed some counter measures that allow them not to be taken in by the prevailing tendencies towards certain idealizations. This was suggested in the _Adonis Complex_ book far better than I can address it, but suffice it to say that self-help groups or plain conversation between women that punctures the stuff they are inundated with might help, where it seems OTOH men aren't comfortable talking to each other yet about how this media image frenzy is making them feel insecure. The feminist stance is an antipode to the objectifying treatment women receive in ads or institutions like the Miss America pageant. Since the male body image stuff could be relatively recent as the _Adonis Complex_ authors suggest we might not have the social support mechanisms to counteract the prevailing messages. But if this "Adonis complex" and "bigorexia" stuff actually amounts to more than a big puff of wind by some behavioral professionals that have started popularizing the concepts, susceptible men might start recognizing the problem at least.

    Even if women might have more countermeasures available, they are still susceptoble to the disorders that result from distorted body image. Recognizing the problem, if it exists, in men likewise won't make it go away.

    One article I have is from a journal called
    _Professional School Counseling_ and introduces the concept to an audience of school counselors who might recognize such things in an educational setting. As concerns over steroid use in high school kids continues to mount, I suppose the diffusion of the concept of male body image disorder might find a useful application.

    But for memetics the things that I've read in various studies would bring the focus on means of transmitting body image ideals and ways of changing body appearance into play. How important are parents, friends, schoolmates, and media in the cultural equation? And how can changes in the ideals over time for society and for individuals be quantified? In a sense this takes us away from the linguistic bias this list has suffered. How can we steer away from words and towards images as a way of looking at cultural change? Measuring the shifting proportions of GI Joe over the decades?

    But there's also advertizing trends, the "muscle mag" industry, the nutritional supplements industry, clothes (like...ummmm...*muscle* shirts), the evolution of the gym as an institution, exercise equipment variation and spread...

    One could pursue it as a participant observer, spending some time on the treadmill and milling about the weight room (which doesn't sound like a bad idea). A thesis on the cultural anthropology of body building might do wonders for your brain and body :-)

    Maybe a biography of Joe Weider might be a good start. I realize memeticists are the type that frown on "big man in history" theories, but Weider is sorta big in the body building industry. Arnold too is big, not only in impact but (to use a pun) in physique.
       Memeticists gotta get down and dirty and use some elbow grease if they're going to put some muscle in the discipline. No gain. It's not like you're going to Madagascar like Maurice Bloch.

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