Recently I was chatting with some lady friends, or rather, beating a dead horse over craft beers about the indisputable difference between men and women’s threshold for visual stimulation.[ref]Congratulations! You have just learned a new euphemism for “being into porn.”[/ref] Upon revisiting this topic for the 6,000th time in my adult life, I had a revelation catalyzed by Stacey’s[ref]Names changed because girls are coy and love anonymity.[/ref] statement, “For every bikini-clad girl in a magazine, there is a washboard-ab guy. Guys see that too. I think they have more body issues than we think.”
Record scratch. Guys have body issues too? How can they when the sitcom world[ref]”King of Queens,” “According to Jim,” “Family Guy,” and “The Simpsons” make up this particular sitcom world.[/ref] tells us that slovenly, underachieving, prematurely balding men consistently showcase trophy wives solely on the merit of their charming incorrigibility? There is overwhelmingly more media coverage of Oprah’s yo-yo dieting or Jessica Simpson’s off-the-charts baby weight than there is of Shaquille O’Neal dunking cookies instead of basketballs these days or Val Kilmer trading his top guns for dog buns, going from Batman to Fatman . . . you get the point.
Hearing every last detail of Jennifer Aniston’s “handful of almonds” that keep her full and fit, but not hearing boo about male athletes/action stars/musicians letting themselves go puts me right back in my theater seat the first time I saw a “Twilight” movie– with a barely controllable urge to stand, wave my hands, and shout, “Is anyone else seeing this?! Am I crazy?? How is any of this ok to be happening?!?”
Luckily for all of us, in 2009 ESPN the Magazine grabbed equality by the unisex tail and premiered the Body Issue. No pun intended, I am sure. Finally, ladies can purchase an annual copy of ESPN the Magazine to peruse alone in a dimly lit room, minus the crying and Ben & Jerry’s Half-Baked that came with the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. Yes, there are women included in the Body Issue, but we can skip over them as easily as you men have presumably been ignoring washboard-ab-guy all these years. And even when I do stop and stare at an unattainable lady figure, I can comfort myself with her achievements. Sure, Miesha Tate is hot. But she punches people professionally. Aaah, there. That’s a comfortable distance between me and a hot girl. Much less disconcerting than some stuffed bikini.
My body issues are as scintillating a topic as the Gulf War; both conflicts began in 1990 and have existed in various forms since, with no end in sight. The new issue here is that I really want to look at these naked men, despite the aforementioned “visual stimulation threshold” being markedly different for the fairer sex.[ref]The most adorable chauvinist phrase ever.[/ref] This, I cannot quite reconcile. I will not lock myself in the bathroom with a copy. I will not imagine some insanely hot Kenneth Faried/my husband hybrid in soft focus while he washes dishes in our kitchen. And I will not show this issue to my husband with the flippant ignorance of a woman who has never imagined that body issues are gender neutral. As a lady, wife, and mother, I will resist the urge to purchase the Body Issue. Rather, I will respectfully search the bejeezus out of Google Image.
Like a man.