*Looks Anxiously at Stomach, at Svelte Wife, Then Back at Self*

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes.

Recently waylaid by a broken toe, my audacious jogging and weight-loss plans in tatters, the following home-truths about the the male gaze, female gaze, and double standards hit painfully close to home this summer. Or am I just projecting?

Those of you who also follow me on social media, may recognize them from back in June. Guilty as charged—I’ve been neglecting this blog due to self-imposed minimum word limits on content I post here, unnecessarily depriving you of interesting content and me of interesting responses. No longer!

So, from Niall Richardson in Transgressive Bodies: Representations in Film and Popular Culture (2010, page 78):

…not ignoring the critical writing which points out that women can gain erotic pleasure from the beautiful, muscular male body (Smith 2007), it does seem that women desire characteristics in men that are very different from the features that men seem to value in women. I constantly see Stepford-esque couples in which the wife is stunningly beautiful, and obviously committed to a regime of diet, exercise and beauty treatments, while the husband is a Homer Simpson. While the wife is still devoted to her husband I always wonder: if the situation were reversed, and the wife were to become fat, would the husband be equally devoted to her? Indeed, one of the recent British films to address this very issue was The Full Monty in which a group of out-of-shape, unemployed men organised an amateur strip show which was a resounding success, obtaining a standing ovation from the female audience. I agree with Susan Bordo who asks, if it were a team of out-of-shape women performing in a strip regime would they be similarly applauded by an audience of men? (Bordo 1999: 174). It does appear to be the case that men do not objectify their bodies to the same extent as women and certainly do not function under the tyranny of slenderness to the same extent. I once met a man who was obese – not moderately fat, but obese – who continually referred to himself as a ‘big guy’ and told me in detail about his job as a security guard at the psychiatric hospital in which he was required to ‘provide the muscle’. I wondered how this muscle was provided given that all I could see was fat and no muscle at all, but this didn’t seem to occur to this particular ‘big guy’. In short, there is a general acceptance in normative, heterosexual culture of male mass, bulk, excess flesh, or indeed anything which exceeds the taught and toned….

It is also not fair to say that men are excused the sin of fatness or bulkiness only in heteronormative culture. Although…

Unfortunately, the book itself is ridiculously expensive; fortunately, all of this particular chapter is available on Google Books, so I encourage interested readers to continue there.

What do you think?

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If you reside in South Korea, you can donate via wire transfer: Turnbull James Edward (Kookmin Bank/국민은행, 563401-01-214324)

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