At this point we all know that the representations of female bodies in print, movies, TV, and online are way off from what the average lady looks like. Photoshopping is the norm, with “unseemly” and “inconvenient” bumps and blemishes magically disappearing with a quick swipe of the digital brush, leaving the rest of us feeling nothing but lumpy and inadequate.
(Ever think there may be a reason she doesn’t want to have sex in the full daylight, boys? I’ll give you a hint: it’s probably has a whole lot to do with this issue.)
But what about the dudes? As the rising number of men with eating disorders illustrates, increasingly unrealistic representations of male bodies are influencing how men think of their bodies – and are resulting in major crashes in self esteem – as well.
While our images of women inevitably include long straight hair, slim legs, no cellulite, just enough (but not too much) breasts, and perfectly rounded bums (but never love handles), the men all have steel-cut abs, a slim but well-defined figure, a prominent uplifted bulge (are the all wearing pushup bras for their balls?), and body hair only in select, pre-approved places.
It’s all too easy for men who don’t fit those specifications (which, let’s be real, has to be at least 95% of all men out there) to feel unsexy, fat, and ugly. In response to the trend of super-cut, super-athletic male bodies, four select readers of The Sun newspaper in England decided to re-create three famous underwear ads, minus the models.
That’s right: These dudes posed in their underwear and then willing published their unaltered photos right next to professional shots of male underwear models.
That takes some serious balls and I want to that acknowledge that bravery by going through all of the images and pointing out exactly why each “normal guy” is so sexy.
(For reference, click here to open up a page with the men’s photos and scroll down while I go through each one.)
1. Model: Cristiano Ronaldo. Brand: Armani
The first thing I absolutely love about this guy is his face. He has those half-open eyes that make me think of dimly lit bedrooms and restaurants, smoldering eye contact while he really listens. Those eyes tell me that this is a dude who knows how to treat a woman well, both in the bedroom and out.
Moving down, his left arm has just enough definition for me, thanks, because, personally, I’m turned off and intimidated by a guy with too many muscles. It’s like, if your body is that “perfect,” what are you going to think of my childbearing hips and cellulite thighs? I prefer a little extra any day.
Extra props to this reader for attempting what is truly a ridiculous pose and still keeping it together. What is that model supposed to be doing, anyway? He’s like some kind of weird Greek athlete who just… Threw a discus? I don’t get it.
2. Model: David Gandy. Brand: Dolce & Gabbana
This normal dude looks like a million guys I dated or thought about dating in Brooklyn. The glasses and scruff combo is always a lady killer in my book, so those definitely earn him extra points. I also love the soft coating of body hair because when did everyone become so waxed? Give me a man with some fur, please!
I know it’s taken from the original image, but I just have to point out that his stance is super hot. He’s all like, “Hey sexy lady. Check me out. I’m getting naked just for you.” It’s not easy to be nonchalant when you’re exposing yourself, so if you can pull it off it’s very impressive.
3. Model: Freddie Ljungberg. Brand: Calvin Klein.
This. Guy. Is. OWNING it. I love, love, love this photo and can say straight up that the “normal guy” is without a doubt sexier than the model. His glare is awesomely masculine, I love the beard (and I’m not usually pro-full facial hair), and he looks like he would be ridiculously fun to roll around with.
He’s also muscly and big, the same way a lot of women are curvy and big. The truth of the matter is that it’s almost impossible for women to have the kind of tits and ass that are all the rage right now (think Jennifer Lopez) without also having a layer of fat over everything. The same goes for bodybuilders: It’s really, really difficult to have the brawn without the bulk, but this guy is rocking them both.
4. Model: David Beckham. Brand: H&M
The number one sexy thing about this guy is the fact that he had the guts to put himself next to David Beckham, a man who has been held up as the standard of “hot dude” for at least a decade now. That alone would be enough to convince me of his hotness, but throw in those pecs and shoulders and what looks like a package I’d be interested in unwrapping and I’m totally sold.
I realized after scrolling through these images the first time that I’d spent almost no time looking at the models. Each one is a simple cookie cutter of the man before him and when I try to picture them individually in my head, all I can come up with are abs and… other muscles. The normal guys, on the other hand, have stuck in my brain with photographic memory clarity.
The conventional standard of beauty as represented by these models is far less appealing to me and (I’m going to guess) to most people because we all find different things to be beautiful. If another writer on this site wrote this article, I’m sure she’d pick out totally different aspects of each guy’s appearance that really turned her on. And isn’t that why our lack of perfection is, ultimately, really awesome? Let’s stop aiming to look like David and Victoria Beckham and revel in what we’ve got instead: perfect imperfection.