Cutting Curves for the Manly Man
Fat, or rather getting rid of it, has been a national obsession for decades now, and just as our understanding of obesity has evolved, so has our arsenal for combating it. Yesterday's aerobics, cabbage soup, and diet pills gave way to marathons, yoga, and the low-fat gospel. Today we've added high-intensity workouts including, Zumba, Parkour, and low-carb diets to the list of armaments on the war on fat.
Throughout most of this evolution, men have been largely on the sidelines, more likely to treat exercise as a sport rather than a way to be healthy. They've been generally less concerned about diets and losing weight than building flex-worthy biceps.
The nineties marked a sea change in men's attitudes though, with an explosion of gym memberships and a legion of recruits to the cult of physical perfection. Many reasons have been cited for this change. From an increasing masculine insecurity in the face of empowered women to increasingly fluid relationships to the more esoteric explanations involving the pursuit of such imponderables as happiness, perfection, or a secular return to the self-denial and self-flagellating behaviors once reserved for puritans and similar austere religious orders. The popularity of shows such as The Biggest Loser have also removed much of the stigma of self-consciousness that once made overweight people avoid the gym, and companies have been encouraging their employees to go to the gym in a bid to increase productivity and reduce health-insurance bills.
In the twenty-first century's competitive job environment, as well, physical fitness is increasingly seen as a competitive advantage, bolstering a candidate's chances of acceptance for a prime position, and more and more people are shelling out time and money to procure this precious edge for themselves.
Sadly, as far as exercise is concerned, men have had to come to terms with two realities: For those on the heavily overweight side of the spectrum, there are actual risks to exercising while carrying their current mass; while those who have diligently sculpted their bodies have reached unsatisfactory plateaus determined by either genetic potential or similar hard-to-change factors, leaving stubborn deposits of fat in inconvenient places, like love handles and mammaries on otherwise perfectly-sculpted torsos, or that last stubborn layer of fat that refuses to allow the excavation of the holy grail of men's fitness, the six-pack.
So it is that we now have the entry of surgery as another weapon in the manly man's quest for physical perfection. Following the same trajectory of acceptability that surgery had for women, men are increasingly embracing procedures ranging from life-changing bariatric surgery and extensive liposuction to finishing touches like suctioning away the last recalcitrant bits of adipose from would-be underwear models. The changing times and the practicality demanded by today's busy lifestyle are doing away with any qualms men may have regarding elective surgery, as shown by the 800,000 cosmetic procedures men underwent in 2011, a 121% increase over 1997's tally. Increasingly, as well, clinics are catering to the male market, either specializing in male patients or offering an extensive menu of services specifically directed at men. Safety is still of course a primary concern, and anyone considering surgery should not only go over the contemplated procedure with a knowledgeable health care professional, but they should make sure they get the best medical care their money can buy.
Exactly how large a part elective procedures such as liposuction will play in the future of men's health, we still cannot say. Surgery will probably never be (and shouldn't ever be) the first option for losing weight or looking good, but for an increasing number of men, it's now an option, and accessibility and social acceptance will play less of a role in deciding whether or not to undergo these procedures, with decisions based decisions on more solid considerations, like risk, cost, and benefit.
Brandon Peters is an entrepreneur, health nut, and content writer for Nova Plastic Surgery.