Monday, March 24, 2008

Maneorexia, Maybe?

My friend McConnell recently met a guy and they had a great marathon Sunday date.

They went out for brunch, then back to his place to listen to music, then out to a movie.

At the end of the day (and an overall couple days of craziness), McConnell was blissfully ready to go home and do nothing at all – maybe scarf down some more junk food and call it a weekend.

Meanwhile, the Great Date left McConnell to do what he had to do – go to the gym.


McConnell, who likes to work out five times a week herself, couldn’t believe what she was hearing. How could it be that there was a guy more fitness conscious than she was?

She flashed back to the meal they had earlier that morning.

He definitely talked about having a workout regimen. He ordered a Diet Coke.

By the time she and I were talking about it the next day, we realized that this guy fits a pattern we’ve been noticing in guys recently. Guys who are more body conscious than we are.

Manoerexics, as they say.

Other notable examples:

  • My brother is currently on the Atkins diet. While I totally support him and think it’s a good decision for him to get back to a healthy weight, it’s kinda nuts to see him obsessing over every meal. He and my cousin at Purdue (who he talked into doing the protein diet with him) call each other to talk about what they’re eating.

  • A co-worker refuses to eat cookies when I bring them into the office. He lost weight and now avoids all sweets so as to keep it off.

I guess it should not be shocking to realize that men, too, care about their bodies and staying in shape. But it just feels like lately, there are men out there who care more than WE do.

And in this world of obsessive women who tape pictures of abs onto their mirrors for inspiration, that’s pretty amazing, if not scary.

I wonder when this Manoerexic movement started.

McConnell and I think we’ve only noticed guys sounding this way the past year or so.

Is it something to do with Hollywood and the way famous men are super skinny these days, too?

Or has it always been this way, and we’re just now starting to notice?

On the one hand, I have to say it’s kind of endearing that there are men out there who are feeling some of the irrational body image insecurity that women feel.

It’s like hearing about a guy getting PMS or something. Part of me feels like, oh thank GOD they see how awful it is to feel icky for no reason at all.

But on the flip side, there’s something sad to me about men now getting into the body image craziness. I mean, most of the time, I feel like men are voices of reason when it comes to all this.

The ones who are like, “You look great. Guys don't like waif-thin women, anyway.” The ones who down cheeseburgers and REGULAR cokes without remorse.

I hope that the recent examples McConnell and I noticed are just coincidence and not indicative of how everybody hates their bodies these days.

Because if men are going to be Maneorexics, I can't imagine what that's going to do for women already dying to be thin.


Michael said...

I'm not too big on excercise though I play three hours of full court basketball once a week. My diet is what keeps me fit. Its mostly vegeterian with some exceptions. A friends boyfriend tends to weird me out because he uses every situation as a work out opportunity. If we are standing and talking..he's stretching..if we are walking he is power walking..I know its good for you but so is communicating with your friends in a normal manner.

John said...

Obsessive Compulsive behavior is real and has long gone under-reported. I've seen it in people. It's not all that different from other similar topics that haven't received attention. Compulsive eaters, gamblers, etc...

Diets don't work over the long haul. Eat what you want in moderation. That will help the most with keeping a decent weight, figure, body image.

If you want to look or feel better than that simple tip, then eat more colors and high energy foods during the day and less sugar and salt. Limit package foods and make it fresh. Also exercise as many days a week as possible.(best way to keep doing it is to do something you enjoy as your exercise) Doesn't have to be super long, but you must get a good sweat going for a little while.(Though I am not a morning person at all, getting it over with in the early morning part of the time, frees up time for unexpected last minute evening and night events)

Guys are a wide variety. This has always been the case. It isn't a new image consicous thing. Some guys always have been image conscious while others haven't, and the majority fall in-between.

Some people have a lot more to overcome than others in the body image/weight dept based on genetic history, societal factors etc...and for others problems come from emotional reasons, lack of self esteem, stress, etc...

Are guys more image conscious in general than they used to be? Not really. Has there been a big change in the physical appearance of male actors or leading men? Not really there either. Some are very fit, some aren't, depending on the role and person. And, I'd say that it is still the case that a woman gets more scrutinized in Hollywood for physical appearance, weight than guys, and that directly results in their opportunities. That isn't fair, but it has existed a long time and hasn't changed much. Neither has a lot of racial stereotypes in Hollywood.

Dieting isn't the answer. The only rule of eating, is to eat in moderation. Don't eat 100mph, slow down, enjoy it, wait 10 minutes if you are not sure if you want more. Know how much would fill you up and stop. Eat 3 meals a day with snacks in between. And, when you exercise, make it be something you really enjoy regularly, along with a little weights part of the time. I couldn't go to a gym for several hours a day, several days a week.

Michael said...

That is a great observation and some good tips john. My diet really isn't a diet at all its a preference..There is certainly something compulsive in my friend of a friend's behavior.

Daniel Edelstein said...


Your assumptions about men are curious and vexing to me, a man who works out almost daily, BUT not for the reasons you appear to assume when you wrote:

"On the one hand, I have to say it’s kind of endearing that there are men out there who are feeling some of the irrational body image insecurity that women feel."

In turn, why, Vikki, do you assume men workout because they feel insecurity?

In truth, many men who are wise and health conscious work out to prevent health problems as preventive care. It has nothing to do with insecurity.

Working out is as basic as brushing your teeth in my mind and many men's mind. You care for your body and it takes care of you.

In this regard, I think you hit the nail on the head elsewhere in your article when you stated:

We (women) have simply not noticed previously that men workout.

To me, that's equally curious -- as any large, metro city has many straight men working out all the time. Just look at the City Sport magazines that flourish nationwide in many metro markets.

As for your fear that men are worried about dating thin women, I guess it depends on the man as to whether he's into a waif look or not.

BUT that's our indoctrination from the media, including magazines, films, etc. et al

As for little ol' me, I see an overweight women and cannot help but wonder why she would not work out more? To let the body go and not be fit seems careless behavior to me. It's inviting unwanted health problems in due time, especially after after 40.

By the way, Vikki, you can toggle/switch a function in your blog's programming so a commenter does NOT have to type in a word verification every time s/he wishes to post a comment. It gets tiring to do this step each time. Thanks.

Paco said...

Vikki..Nothing wrong with working out and looking good. Maybe if half the fat chicks in Milwaukee would consider working out, the world might be a better place. There's really no need to criticize positive things. Don't be a hater!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

InFact said...

Good point, Paco -- though more directly and frank than my modest Midwestern self would have stated.

Nonetheless, it's earthshakingly amazing how many overweight people live in WI.

Next to Arkansas and Mississippi, I read WI is the most overweight state in the Union.


Is that why it says "American's Dairyland" on the license plates?

I'd go on a fast for 3 weeks with tea and juice only, if I were like some of the people I see walk out of Starbucks with "dessert" masquerading as coffee.
700 calories a pop for their fun, while water would do just as well for a non-exercising person.

Ergo, I also read that only 10-15% of people workout every day. Oy vey.

Ms. Walker said...

Okay, I need to comment..not to you so much Vikki, but to the commenters.
Please don't assume that every overweight person out there is heavy by choice. There are MEDICAL conditions that prohibit people from shedding pounds. One being Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. There are also mental reasons that people gain weight. Please do not assume that just because people are overweight it is because they are lazy or what not. I can tell you that I am overweight, and I don't like it. I work out 4 nights a week for an hour, and I eat a balanced diet. But because I have PCOS, I can not lose weight like "normal" people. I was very fit and healthy for many years. I played three sports in high school. However, during my junior year, I blew out my knee. I gained 50 pounds in a year, and it was all down hill then. Because of my PCOS if I didn't work out so often, I would be well over 500 pounds, but I am not. But you would see me with my once a month alotted Starbucks and think terrible things about me.
Shame on you.