Do Men Feel Pressure to be Fit?

Last weekend I spent some much needed friend time with two women who are about my age, height and weight. We all wear around the same size clothing and have similar interests in fitness to slightly varying degrees. Yet, when it comes to diet and body image, I was stunned that we all had complaints.

“I should be eating this…”

“My new work out includes…”

“I’m on this diet…”

Image By GoodLife.com, Bola Browne

“I just want to tone my…”

Each one of us, though we are all healthy, felt like we had something to improve about our bodies. I couldn’t help but wonder why so many women who are aware of body image issues and the pressure to be pretty and thin in American culture, are unhappy with the way we look — when most of the men I know, do NOT.

You rarely hear men in their twenties and thirties discussing their need to eat right and work out, or feeling dissatisfied with their looks. And, as this article on magazine marketing points out, you don’t see diet articles geared to men nearly as much as women on the news stand.

So, I ask, what gives? Do men feel pressure to be fit and eat right? Do they obsess over their appearance? Are there things men would like to change about their bodies, but they don’t say it?

Or, is men’s fitness out of style unless you’re an athlete or gay? I know that skinny, hipster chic is popular among some men, but they aren’t talking about trying to be thin, or changing there diet. Are they?

In my opinion, it seems like there’s no pressure for men to be fit because it doesn’t affect their sex appeal. A man can be funny and smart and he’s a catch, even if he’s not conventionally good-looking, but if a woman has the same qualities, she “needs a makeover” so people will be attracted to her “personality.”

I think it’s the “Homer Simpson Effect,” he’s this lazy guy who never works out or eats veggies, but is endearing, so Marge loves him anyway. Meanwhile, Marge is always fit and fussing over her appearance. (I mean, think how long it would take to make your hair look like that!)

Homer is not the only guy who doesn’t care about his looks. In fact, most male characters on TV and in films, don’t talk about their appearance. Except in Eclipse, of course. We all remember Jacob Black‘s famous line to Edward, “I’m hotter than you.”

Image By Men's Health

Image By Men's Health

So,  now we have two men who look completely different– thin, pale and tall, versus muscular, tan and rugged — but both are “fit.” Which one do men want to emulate? Will they follow Taylor Lautner’s work out regimen, or will they look to more athletic types to model like Omar Epps?

And, since there’s been so much publicity over women careening over Team Edward and Team Jacob’s appearance, with Taylor Lautner running around without a shirt, or Robert Pattinson sparkling like diamonds on screen, do men feel the need to hit the treadmill and lay off the burgers?

What do YOU think? Are men pressured by society to be fit too? Or does the Homer Simpson effect just part of America’s obesity problem?

8 thoughts on “Do Men Feel Pressure to be Fit?

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  2. Men are under much more pressure than women. All women have to do is stay slim there’s no emphasis on fitness. Look at any film. The lead guy is always very muscular and physically fit. The lead chick is simply slim. Not fit. So men have to literally spend hours and hours eating clean and working out whilst the women do nothing. Kim Kardashian is fat and very out of shape and yet she’s considered sexy. Can you think of any fat bloke thats considered sexy?
    Emphasis here is on fit rather than slim. Being slim is the easiest thing in the world because humans evolved to be slim. To stay slim the only you have to do is dont eat like a whale. Fitness on the other hand is a completely different ball game. You have to follow a strict diet and exercise program. Muscular guys literally spend 10+ hours a week working out and dieting on top of that.

  3. I feel the pressure to be fit most definitely. In this area most men are unbelievably fit, I didn’t trust my own eyes when me moved here. I’m not making any general comments about pressure for men versus women as I’m sure pressure for women is worse in the bigger context. However, I’d say the opposite is true in this particular area. The women here are often pretty but they aren’t particularly fit in general. Many men on the other hand look like models, with toned bodies and chiseled symmetric abs.

    Men are socially expected to be fit here. I’ve heard more than one conversation between women (that aren’t fit themselves) in the area how they expect their future husband to be fit.

  4. I personally at least feel an immense pressure to be fit. I’m already fairly lean as it is, but I just have something in the back of my head telling me to be better. I don’t really have any friends like this however. I kind of hate how I care so much, and it’s very annoying to be out with friends and having them scoff down burgers, and I’m trying my best to stay with vegetarian options. Women are just more open about their insecurities I believe, and they complain about them far more. It’s not acceptable for men to do that, because we’re just supposed to go on without complaint, we have no feelings after all, right?

  5. I would say men certainly feel the need to be fit. Going to the gym one sees a huge number of men who statistically can’t all be gay, and of course are not all required to hit the bench press like a starting player on a college football team (Hey guy you’re thirty after all) The main reason men are there of course is that they are insecure about their bodies. There is a pressure on men, perhaps not as great as on women, to be fit in addition to possessing other qualities. I feel it, my friends feel it, summer comes and we talk about beach muscles, abs, pecs, brad Pitt hip sex lines. But lets be honest, there is a reason, fitness is important after all it is a great indicator of healthiness and genetics, in fact recent studies have shown that obese people are less intelligent in addition to their other problems. Also a child of an obese parent is more likely to be obese themselves. No matter how funny and smart a man may be the instinct of nature will not be attraction if he is ugly or unfit, and of course he will be handicapped in the singles market.

    It seems also present a false option of “two men who look completely different– thin, pale and tall, versus muscular, tan and rugged — but both are ‘fit’” Yes both are fit, one living perhaps on a diet of coffee cigarettes and getting around on a fixe, the other in the gym, on the treadmill and dosing creatine. Regardless this misses the vast majority of men who are pudgy or not particularly fit or husky, beer bellied, scrawny but without tone etc. And as for movies and popular culture telling women that either the ectomorphic hipster or the mesomorphic jock is O.K. to date this only because both are “fit” after all you can see their sixpacks.

  6. No, men do not feel the need to be fit or to look good because society shows them that it’s okay for a beautiful woman to be attracted to ugly men. Just look at all the recent movies (rom com especially) [other than Twilight of course] where ugly and less than average looking men are paired up with beauthful women. You don’t see the reverse.

    • I beg to differ. I definitely think that men obsess over their bodies; given I am an athlete and 90% of my friends are athletes or were athletes at one time we all try to watch what we eat and matain a steady workout regimen. Men are able to get away with not working out and getting the pretty woman while an out of shape woman may not even get a second glance, there are more men than you would think that feel they need to take care of their body.

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