DirecTV released a commercial in Fall 2014 featuring movie star, Rob Lowe and “far less attractive Rob Lowe.” Rob Lowe played himself as “less attractive” by wearing a fat suit to give him a beer gut, sloppy clothes, thinning hair, bushy eyebrows, and bad teeth. When Rob Lowe was just playing himself, he was fit, good looking, and had a full head of hair. The commercial insists that if you subscribe to DirecTV, you’ll be like Rob Lowe, while if you subscribe to cable you’ll be “far less attractive Rob Lowe.” This commercial targets male body image issues in order to persuade people, in this case men, to buy their product.
Most people don’t take into consideration the fact that not only women face problems accepting their bodies due to the expectations media has for them. In Jessica Lovejoy’s Huffington Post article Body Image Issues Are Not Just For Women, she explains, “women have had to deal with this sort of scrutiny for much of their lives, but we shouldn’t be under the assumption that men don’t know the feeling. Truth be told, we are all victims of the media. No one is safe” (Lovejoy 1). Men also develop body image issues due to the unachievable standards in our media. In DirecTV’s opinion, you can only be good looking if you have a full head of hair, have straight teeth, and aren’t overweight at all. It’s a fact that most men lose some, most, or all of their hair during their lifetime. According to Dr. Weston Price, first dentist to correlate eating habits and dental health, 75% of Americans don’t have naturally straight teeth and end up needing orthodontic care. According theJournal of the American Medical Association, over ⅔ of Americans are overweight or obese. It’s nearly impossible for any man to live up to every single one of these standards.
In school health classes, kids learn about different eating disorders and body image issues like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating. One that is often not talked about is explained in James Balm’s blog post on BioMed Central: muscle dysmorphia. Balm defines it as “‘bigorexia’, where an individual gains more and more muscle, yet believes they are too still skinny or weak” (Balm 1). The DirecTV ad with Rob Lowe could influence men to develop one of these disorders since it’s made out to be such a bad thing to not be perfectly fit. For viewers who watch Rob Lowe in his latest role of Chris Traeger on Parks and Recreation, they know that his character is extremely active and almost addicted to exercise and health. In the minds of the young men watching the DirecTV ad influencing them to be more like Rob Lowe, they might take it to be like his character onParks and Recreation, and develop a muscle dysmorphia issue because they take being active and fit to an extreme.
Balm refers to a 2013 study in Journal of Eating Disorders where the differences in eating disorders vs. masculinity and femininity are explored. The more feminine the man is, the more likely he is to develop an eating disorder, whereas the more masculine the man it, the more likely he is to develop muscle dysmorphia. The idea of masculinity and femininity is also explored in Stuart B. Murray, PhD. and Stephen W. Touyz, PhD.’s analysis ofMasculinity, Femininity and Male Body Image: A Recipe for Future Research in theInternational Journal of Men’s Health. They explain that “little research has been undertaken to explicate the factors implicated in the divergence of male body image disorders amongst body dissatisfied males towards either thinness or muscularity oriented body image concerns” (Murray, Touyz 227). Since this journal more research has been done, however, most people still don’t take into consideration the issues with male body image. As Murray and Touyz put it, it’s a “less well understood” concept when men have body dissatisfaction (Murray, Touyz 228). They go into detail of which body disorders homosexual men have as opposed to heterosexual men. Then they begin to discuss femininity’s role in body dissatisfied men’s disorders. “Collectively, this body of research postulates that body dissatisfied males who endorse greater feminine gender roles may be likely oriented towards thinner rather than larger body ideals” (Murray, Touyz 230). This means that they are more likely to develop an eating disorder. Masculinity is then explored and it’s role in men dissatisfied with their bodies. “A direct and significant relationship between endorsement of masculine behaviors and attitudes and the drive for muscularity has been demonstrated, in that the greater masculine behaviours and attitudes one adopts, the more elevated the reported drive for muscularity” (Murray, Touyz 228). Therefore, these men are more inclined to developing muscle dysmorphia. Then the men open up future research that can be done on the topic to learn more.
No matter what type of man, masculine or feminine, neither is immune to the media’s portrayals of men and what is expected of them. DirecTV seems to use men’s insecurities against them in order to sell their product. Inadvertantly, this could lead men, mosty teenagers and young adults, to develop more body dissatisfaction issues and possible eating disorders or muscle dysmorphia. Most people don’t acknowledge the fact that men are affected this way by media yet, but when those affected finally start speaking up about it as women have, maybe the media will begin to change for the better as they have for women.
Balm, James. “The Perfect Body? How Eating Disorders and Body Image Are a Threat to Men’s Health.” BioMed Central Blog. N.p., 9 June 2014. Web. 15 Oct. 2014.
Lovejoy, Jessica. “Body Image Issues Are Not Just For Women.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 26 Mar. 2014. Web. 14 Oct. 2014.
Michaels, Ann M. “Ever Wonder Why Indigenous People Had Straight Teeth? – CHEESESLAVE.” CHEESESLAVE RSS. N.p., 18 Oct. 2009. Web. 16 Oct. 2014.
Murray, Stuart B., PhD., and Stephen W. Touyz, PhD. “Masculinity, Femininity and Male Body Image: A Recipe for Future Research.” International Journal of Men’s Health Winter 2012 11.3 (2012): 227-39. Academic Search Elite. Web. 15 Oct. 2014.
Ogden C. L., Carroll, M. D., Kit, B.K., & Flegal K. M. (2014). Prevalence of childhood and adult obesity in the United States, 2011-2012. Journal of the American Medical Association, 311(8), 806-814.
Price, Weston A. “Home.” Weston A Price. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2014.