Physical appearance and body satisfaction has become a very significant factor in the lives of many men today. This is supported in Pope’s article, which included several studies that revealed the amount of men who are dissatisfied with their appearance and body. A situation that was once considered only a “women’s problem” was now becoming a man’s issue as well.
Pope discusses a variety of factors that may have contributed to men’s insecurities, which included steroid use, magazines, toys (specifically action figures), and the media. Body builders were being broadcast on television, muscular men were being featured on the cover of magazines, and action figures with huge biceps were what most young boys and men were viewing on a day-to-day basis. These images are so instilled into their minds that it leaves some men with a desire to become a “muscular man.” I enjoyed Pope’s discussion of the GI Joe action figures and the changes in body shape that the toy has gone through because I vividly remember my brother and male cousins playing with them when I was younger. One day while they were playing, I asked my cousin, “why do these have muscles, but Barbies don’t?” My cousin’s response was, “it’s because he’s stronger.” I was dissatisfied and still confused so I went on and said, “so Barbie can’t be strong because she doesn’t have muscles?” It was clear that my cousin associated strength with muscularity as well.
Pope also mentions that the body has become a “defining feature of masculinity.” A man’s body was now a determination of how masculine he was. In addition, the media often portrayed men who have muscles as either aggressive or powerful indicating that masculinity and muscularity must have some sort of connection. These portrayals reinforced the ideas that if a man did not have muscles, then he would be assumed to be wimpy or weak. Although the article does not mention it, having muscles are seen as a feature that men would feel proud of having, but it would not be a desirable trait for women because it would make them too masculine. This hits Pope’s point that the physical built is a defining feature of masculinity and women would be too masculine if they had the same body.
Chrisler’s article discusses PMS as a cultural-bound syndrome that can only be understood within a specific culture and symbolized based on the behavioral norms of that culture. It was interesting and surprising to know that among the 78 articles from the study, 131 different symptoms were listed just for PMS. These symptoms contributed to the views and representations of women who PMS. To me, it was very frustrating to read that PMS was often used as an excuse or the reason why women acted in inappropriate ways. It was used as a way to excuse women’s anger and raging rather than attributing madness to other factors like stress. PMS gives off the assumption that women are unstable for almost half a month and they cannot control themselves, therefore they are not fit to make decisions. By putting the blame on PMS, women will feel that this is something they have no power to change because it is their bodies. These views have even pushed women to feel negatively toward menstruation when other women in the world who do not have these cultural ideas view menstruation in a positive light.