The other day when Triathlon magazine showed up at my girlfriend’s house, she rightly made this sound when glancing at the cover. “Ohmmmmm….”
Because the cover showed a hunked up, perfectly smooth and fit body of a young male triathlete. He was standing in that pose that says, “I’m ready to jump off this cover and engage in multisports with you.”
One can’t blame her for noticing that fine young man. After all, that whole buffed up cover shot stuff is what helps sell magazines. Publications like Runner’s World often feature different covers for their newsstand copies than those presented to subscribers. That’s because the magazine is in competition with other fitness magazines, all of whom also feature hunky male and sleek female models posing in sportily provocative poses.
It’s a reality. Skin sells. Ripped abs sell.
Sometimes, if you’ve already got the customer as a subscriber you can skip the whole hunked up model routine and put an actual competitor on the cover of your magazine. Or, if you’re a cycling magazine, you can put a photo of a $10,000 bike on the cover and both men and women will have instantaneous orgasms just looking at that sexy bike.
In reality it’s pretty hard measuring up to the bodies of some of those athletes on the covers. Inevitably we compare ourselves to the pillars of fitness presented to us by the media. The other day I clicked on what I thought was a story about how Hollywood actors get shredded for those skin-first roles in the movies. The story turned out to be a paid advertisement for a product of some sort. So I jumped off that thread because you know what comes next. A pitch to buy something for $19.99 that is likely very bad for your health.
That’s our problem with fitness and fatness. Curiosity gets the best of us sometimes. When we’re at the gym and a really fit person walks by, you can’t help wondering, “What’s their secret?” Well, the secret is usually that they spend a big chunk of their time at the gym. Many go seven days a week. The truly dedicated go eight days a week.
It somewhat amuses me how much genetics has to play in the ultimate ability to look a certain way. There are tons of women at the gym. Some are sexy and fit and some are frankly dumpy, just hoping to lose some weight. Is one priority more important than the other? Not really. Everyone’s purpose matters.
Of course we’re essentially taught by our culture to view the women with the cute booty shorts, shapely boobs and a tight ass as somehow superior. But honestly that manner of thinking actually gets exhausting at some point. It becomes un-original.
Dance to the music
While working out at the club today I viewed a music video where all the women were wearing those shorts and pushup bras that all music video dancers seem to wear. Everyone including the supposed singer was dancing around trying to look anything but bored and it struck me: “They’ve actually run out of things to do.”
There seems to be no more dancing to be done that hasn’t been invented or reinvented in some way. Real dancers would beg to differ of course. But the art of dancing versus the commodified stuff we so often get in music videos are two different things. The former is definitive. The latter is repetitious and lame. It’s the same thing with magazine covers and news anchors and pornography. How many ways can we exploit the human image before it’s time to drop it all and say, “Give me something real.”
Seriously, you can only twerk so much before it becomes some form of ironic commentary on the whole genre of twerking. Is that a genre…or are you just happy to see me?
It’s the same thing with magazine covers and sexy news anchors on Fox and pornography. How many ways can we exploit the human image before it’s time to drop it all and say, “Give me something real!”
Okay, get real
Runner’s World did that a few years ago with a cover and inside story featuring everyday runners rather than models hired to represent runners. It was a refreshing approach and those people were interesting to look at. Normality can be sexy as hell. It doesn’t mean we should not try to celebrate or enjoy our bodies in any way. Certainly there are people who
Normality can be sexy as hell. Sometimes its the tiny scar on the shoulder of your lover that makes you realize how close you are. Our flaws become intimate. That’s what true love is about.
Sporting it up
That does not mean we should not try to celebrate or enjoy our bodies in any way. Certainly there are people who sport tattoos and piercings and even get things enhanced a bit as a means of self-expression. Those are intimations as well. Within reason, it’s whatever makes you happy, or feel real.
Admit it. We all look at others in a habit of self-affirmation. There are guys at the XSport club I attend that have incredible builds. They work madly at their physiques and have the muscles to show for it. In some small way I might be envious of their appearance. But then I think about my priorities and realize that it is performance that I most value, and not appearance alone. If by working toward performance I happen to get stronger looking, that’s a real benefit. To some degree that has happened. But truly, there won’t soon be any magazines calling me soon to appear on the cover as a Sexy Senior. Not without a sexy bike anyway.
At some point you come to realize that we’re all just bundles of flesh stuffed into workout clothes. We’re blessed or cursed with different attributes and we’re trying to make the best of things. If that means some people don’t get exposure on the covers of magazines, there is always the opportunity to take things into your own hands, so to speak. In fact there are thousands of people who post their naked images on Reddit asking for attention and feedback. Some of these people get 100,000 or more views in a single day.
It’s a very interesting phenomenon. Conservative critics might call it all vapid narcissism. But then consider that all this public exposure has an ultimately democratizing effect. It’s like a giant nude beach. When everyone is naked, there’s no longer a taboo. For better or worse, it’s just people sharing what they’re all about. Truly the Internet is not that much different than a typical race day on a suburban weekend. People lin
Truly the Internet is not that much different than a typical race day on a suburban weekend. People line up and groan and gasp their way through the streets and people cheer them on and applaud. Then everyone goes home and mows the lawn. People need stupid shit to look at. People need to do stupid shit to keep sane. It’s not so much narcissism as it is a practical way to maintain sanity in the face of an often dehumanizing world.
It’s simple fact. People need stupid shit to look at. People also need to do stupid shit to keep themselves sane. It’s not so much about narcissism as it is a practical way to maintain sanity in the face of an often dehumanizing world.
Athletes put their bodies on display more than anyone else. And when you finish that Saturday morning run and catch a glimpse of a fellow runner or cyclist changing by their car there is an equalizing effect stemming from the fact that you have all just done something difficult together. A glimpse of a sports bra or the bare ass cheek on a guy are just part of the scenery. It comes down to this: We’re all models of one kind or another. If we model ourselves around a healthy lifestyle, all is good in the end.