I was on a plane recently, and I bought Men's Fitness. It wasn't quite for straightforward reasons, nor was it for man-ogling ones (as you'll soon see). I don't know, sometimes I need to be reminded about how good fish is and why antioxidants are helpful and how to get perfect abs in four weeks on a clear schedule and empty stomach. Sue me, I couldn't find a copy of National Review. So, I'm paging through this crap that all sounds good and right, but that must be crafted for the least amount of possible retention (otherwise, how would these magazines stay in business, printing the same things perennially?) and I'm, of course, assaulted by ads, many of them before-and-after style that are peddling things like fake steroids and cardio boosters and whey protein and adipose reducing agents and shit, and I get to this:
And it just strikes me as so unethical that this ad is, like, endorsing the body-shredding of a perfectly adorable stocky Asian dude. It's not like that type is everywhere. No, ridding the earth of one is like shooting an endangered species. It's just. Wrong.
And there's more fucked up shit in these ads, too. Trust me, I know. I'm something of an expert since going through over a dozen men's health and muscle mags and scanning these things. Since I'm past taking inconscpicous pictures of strangers frolicking on the Jersey shore ('cause that's just putting too much of my pervy mind on display), but since I do realize that summertime is chunk time, consider this my chunk coverage for the year.
In addition to developing what look like cobblestones on his abdomen, this guy went from Latino to Asian. What the fuck is in those pills?
And this one?
It's like, dude, get over it. You're a bear. How the hell is a Euro-/trailer-trash look via perky boobs and peroxide an upgrade?
And like, I'm not saying that this is hit-able in any incarnation...
...but if I had to choose one, it'd be the one in which the fuller cheeks offset any possible rodent or rodent-like teeth, you know?
The most amazing thing to me about these ads is that these guys are striving for this beauty standard (which, by the way, is why I feel shameless about objectifying them...publicly; no matter what I objectify dudes privately because, uh, I'm as boy-crazy as a babysitter). But their standard runs completely counter to the conventional beauty standard and our cultural philosophy (no matter how morally bankrupt it is) that looking younger is ideal. Because the biggest change you see in these dudes is that though most "after" shots purport to be weeks or months after the before, they look like they've aged decades in the interim:
(This one is another that kills me a little because he was so. Cute. Before, bulgingness and all.)
I'm such a face man that it befuddles me how men could sacrifice their mugs for their bods. I guess it's, uh, cultural. And, you know, I do have some experience in this realm: I lost about 25 lbs. earlier this year mostly by becoming a lot more conscious of and involved in my eating habits (I've worked out like a crazy person for years, so it's actually nice to be able to see the results, or at least the illusion of them - I can't tell how much of my weight loss is eating and how much is the gym, and I'm too afraid of gaining weight to alter either set of habits). I don't know if it's just that time of life or what, since I'm staring down 30, but I've never seen so much old in my face since the weight dropped off. The old is creeping in. The old is in effect. But, Christ, it's not like I developed what looks like a complex irrigation system of wrinkles.
The other major change you see in guys in these ads?
Tans. (And, I'm happy to report, this is one that I'm in no way able to relate to, despite my affinity for the beach.)
...boiled-looking tans I guess maybe this is to match with the new exoskeleton these guys have seemed to develop? I wish they'd at least don antennae. If you're gonna go for the lobster look, why just go halfway?
And, you know, I'm all about being healthy, and unless we're all cutting steel on our abs, we all could use to lose a few pounds. No rule is absolute and there are a few guys in these ads who, indeed, do look better after.
Fine, you know?
I definitely see how his face is more suited for a sleek look instead of a sumo one.
Uh, I think he's hotter after, but the bad tattoo distracts me and keeps me from knowing for sure.
When "before" entails wearing a diaper, after is going to be better no matter what. I'm shocked he didn't bring a blankie.
And, again, something totally unrelated to the point of the ad helps improve appearance. In this case, it's the absence of a mullet.
This is actually a tough call because this guy is drool-worthy either way. Although I wouldn't mind using his squishy before body as a bounce house, he definitely looks fresher after. I guess it just goes to show that if you're handsome enough with symmetrical features and nice eyebrows, you can rock whatever. And that's the whole point of my chunk obsession anyway -- people take it as some sort of uniform rule, when it's little more than a suggested enhancement. Bodily thickness can be complementary to the right guy, but it hardly turns yuckable to fuckable.
One of my favorite type of these ads are those in which there is little evident change from before to after.
I mean, if subtleties really matter, why not just contour? You're already giving Clinique business with all the bronzer you're going through -- what's another $30? You could probably get a gift set or a tote or something.
Wow! He's gone from ripped to ripped and a little creased.
Don't make your success too evident! People expect their meatheads to be modest, not boastful!
I feel like this is one of those games in the Sunday comic section where you have to circle what's different in the second picture. I think there's a bulging vein maybe? And his nose is wider?
But the absolute best of these ads finds the before picture shrunken...
...so that the guy looks literally bigger in the second shot.
That's right. These supplements give you giganticism. It's no longer just a genetic thing!
Of course, a main point of this is to rag on the advertising as much as, if not more than, the guys in it. Several variables between in these sets of shots make it so much more difficult to gauge what truly looks better. That the ad set immediately above (for Anabolic-Pump, btw) would resort to something as cheap and intelligence-insulting as actually shrinking the before shot shows that insecurity in this industry, insecurity runs deep: it lies in both those who want to change, and those who want to exploit that desire. Pussies!