Monday, July 24, 2017

Superheros and Body Image

I recently saw an article about how recent superhero movies and action figures where warping our children's ideal of body image. I think the only reason this caught my eye is that C came up to me shortly before I read it and asked if he was getting fat. Um, your 8, don't worry you have many growth spurts in you. Anyway it lead me to some other stuff and left me feeling conflicted. Not by the articles so much but by the comments and the double standard for boys and girls. Many people seem to think that girls are more susceptible than boys to care about body image. If boys see muscle bound men in the movies, getting the girls and woman in real life fawning over them. Aren't they going to want that just as much as a girl who sees some tiny blond getting the guys?
The ideal male body image has changed so much in recent years, we've gone from leading men looking normal to ripped. While for women you still need to look good in skin tight leather. A good example is Hugh Jackman in the X-men movies. In the first movie he was fit and in my opinion looked closer to the comic Wolverine than the later movies with nearly 0% body fat. How do you even keep up with that? It can't be healthy. Not to mention it looks nasty, personal preference but I like a little cushion.
In comics superheroes have always been overly muscled and exaggerated. Yet kids weren't trying to model their bodies after them, they knew that those were a fantasy. When Batman and Superman hit television they looked like normal men from that era. I love this quote from Adam West's cameo on The Simpsons.
 “Back in my day, we didn’t need molded bodysuits, pure West.”
Batman 2017 vs 1966
We've gone from realistic body images into the realm of fantasy and people need to remember that. They need to teach our kids to want healthy bodies, not unhealthy overly muscled abominations. We probably should also point out to our offspring that this is the photoshop age. That six pack could be the result of digital tinkering. 

Superman 1948 vs 2016
Actors are forced to undergo rigorous exercise and diet programs to look this way. Most will admit it's torture. Yet like those of us who workout and eat right no one sees the hard work, the sweat and skinless chicken, they just see the results.
Wonder Woman 1975 vs 2017
As parents we should be the ones showing our kids what is healthy and being good role-models. We should be showing our kids that they don't have to be Superman or Wonder Woman to be happy and healthy. That they are fictional characters and that trying to be them is unrealistic. We need to teach them to be happy with themselves as they are. 

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