From slim and athletic to the ‘dad bod,’ body ideals for men shift with time

#RealMeKC

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Throw on a hat, brush your teeth, and you’re out the door. That’s the general routine for a lot of men. It’s created an image that being a man comes with few societal pressures for appearance, and that’s partially true.

But throughout history, society has placed expectations on men’s “ideal” appearance, proving we are all under some kind of pressure.

Throughout different civilizations and eras, men’s body types have shifted with the times and what society accepts. In the United States, as food became more available, it became less popular to have the round body type of the past, and the “fashionable” look became a more slimmed down physique.

In the golden age of Hollywood, movie stars like Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, and Paul Newman exhibited the slimmer, athletic, but not overly muscular body ideal.

Not long after the clean-cut, trim looks of the golden age of Hollywood, tandards of “perfection” for a man’s appearance changed.

In the mid-1960s and into the 70s, the thin sometimes androgenous look became popular in the counter-culture movement. Mick Jagger and David Bowie were icons of the “ideal bodies” of the time.

The next “look?” Think Arnold Schwarzeneger and Sylvester Stallone. Their bulked-up physiques were the popular look of the late 70s and 80s.

But there was still a place for the hair band look. The slimmed-down rockers continued the androgeny of the previous era in physique and appearance.

But the 90s and early 2000s saw a more uniformed “body ideal.” Men were pressured into the “cut” look. This look meant men were not only supposed to be thin and lean, they also had to be muscular, but not as muscular as the previous era.

Finally, in the 2010s, a lot of men felt like they got a break of sorts. The “dad bod” became the hot new look. Even Hollywood latched onto the more attainable physique with actors sporting bodies that were not chiseled, not incredibly lean, and a little soft in the middle.  

Jason Segel, Leonardo Di Caprio, Ben Affleck, Adam Sandler and many more Hollywood “It” men adopted the look. It was even celebrated in viral videos seen by millions of people and just recently, Jonah Hill posted to social media about his past insecurities of being seen without a shirt on, but now he’s grown to love his body the way it is.

Is the dad bod here to stay? History would tell us not to count on it.

Of course, this is just a history on men’s body ideals. Historically speaking, women have had to uphold a stricter image of perfection.

However, research included in the Bradley University’s body project shows the pressure of having the perfect body is difficult for men, even if they’re not vocal about it.  One study shows 95% of college-aged men are dissatisfied with their bodies.

Later this week, FOX4 will discuss eating disorders and body dysmorphia in women and men.

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