The Mooby Prize
Posted on: 01 February 2011 by Alexander Hay
The current trend for cosmetic surgery amongst men suggests the body haters are winning.
Many sci-fi writers have waxed lyrical about the notion of 'transhumanism', where future societies use technology to alter the human body and mind. On paper, it sounds great - having gills, heatvision, a pair of kangeroo legs and symbiotic headlice that style your hair for you would be jolly good fun.
Sadly, the reality is more banal and depressing. Take plastic surgery, which hasn't so much transformed the human form as turned it into a battlefield for the vanities and self-loathing. It's worth remembering when Nicole Kidman could move her eyebrows, after all, or wondering why women hate their bodies so much.
Well, wonder no longer. Men have been sucked into the flesh-carving guilt-trip too, with news that men requesting 'breast reduction' operations has risen by 28%, with 741 hapless souls electing to go for 'moob-jobs' in the last year alone.
As with most things in life, it's Simon Cowell's fault. No one likes him, and like most people we hate, we simply can't stop watching him. And his man-breasts. In fact, if there is any one man who has made the public conscious of man-breasts, it is Simon Cowell. He has made men admit they have them and given those without a licence to hurl abuse.
The other driving force behind the current craze is the rise of male body consciousness. While there have always been fashionable or at least fashion conscious men, it is a fairly recent phenomena that the same level of personal abuse and guilt-tripping that so afflict women now applies to men. And it is horrible. TV advertising, the front cover of magazines and media overall have conspired to make men begin to dislike something they've not hitherto particularly paid much attention to - their own bodies.
Some women may feel rather smug that men now know how it feels - they miss the point. This is harmful to society as a whole whether it happens to one sex or both. Non-stop character assasination is no way to sell a product and yet it works, precisely because we let it and, indeed, demand everyone else falls in line as we do it too.
There is a class angle too - rich people can afford to be thin, the poor and underclass have increasingly become obese. Whether you're one thing or another has become a social indicator, a marker for where you 'fit in'.
In other words, we have become complicit in our own abuse. This would be nonsense if it weren't so serious. It takes a brave man, or woman, to go against the flow, often with little success.
But let us dwell on facts (not opinions) that tend to be ignored. If you want to get rid of your man-breasts, just exercise more, or focus on exercises that develop your chest muscles, like push-ups or benchpresses. But do it for your own good, not so you can feel you 'belong' to a group of people so shallow they will detest you for a bit of flab. And if you don't feel like doing that, just sit on the sofa, relax, have a lager and let your mortal frailties sag loose and free. You're not actually hurting anyone, even yourself, unless you veer into full-on self harm.
We don't need surgery to make ourselves feel better. We just need to stop listening to those who want to sell us misery and those who are in on the scam. The problem with cutting bits of ourselves off is that sooner or later we loose a lot more than just fat.