Over the last couple of weeks, some news stories were brought to my attention that illustrate a problem I’ve been observing for a few years now.
The first was the latest in a long line of Photoshopping scandals. What made this interesting was that rather than some already-stick-thin female model being slimmed down even further or women of color having their skin lightened or their features made to look more caucasian1, the subject in question was Justin Bieber. The website BreatheHeavy.com released what were supposedly unretouched photos of the Bieb – photos that suggested that Bieber’s muscles and package got a Photoshop-based enlargement. Of course, Bieber’s legal team went into overdrive, insisting that the “before” pictures were the altered ones and forced BreatheHeavy to retract them.
The other was an article in Esquire UK, where the author decided to spend three months in a quest to become – in his words – “totally ripped”.
What strikes me about these stories is how they play into a new and pernicious narrative – the new standards for male beauty and how the quest to live up to them has been taking a deadly toll on men.
- All of which are so common that it’s kind of sickening [↩]