Muscle implants and men – News Analysis
Did you hear the news? According to a recent report released by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), there has been a surge in the number of men who are getting muscle implants.
How much of an increase? Between 2013-2017, try a jaw-dropping 437%.
Believe it or not, last year, something like 1.3 million men in the United States underwent some type of cosmetic procedure. In most cases, guys had something minimally invasive done, like getting Botox injections or dermal filler.
Others opted for more involved work, like liposuction to remove excess body fat around the belly or to treat “man-boobs”, which in clinical speak is called gynecomastia.
But the surprise in the data was the increase in the number of males who went to a surgeon specifically for muscle implants. Per the ASPS report, something like 378 men got their calves augmented and another 983 guys got pec implants.
When you add it all up, this represents a 59% increase since 2016.
At first glance, that 59% may seem like a lot. But is it really? Given the number of men who live in the United States, which Stastica pegs around 120 million, we’re still talking about a super tiny number.
That said, some in the media have been reporting the muscle implant news as if there is something odd going on. Others, hoping to drive traffic to their sites, have sensationalized the data in ways to suggest it all adds up to body dysmorphic disorder. But is that really fair or accurate?
Conventional wisdom holds that guys who get muscle implants do so because of pressure from social media. To be sure, that is probably true for some men.
But as one person named Al said in a Men’s Health piece, not all males who undergo the proverbial knife do so because of Facebook or Instagram.
“I haven’t felt any pressure at any point in my life. However, the more I got exposed to more energetic, healthy people, the more I was attracted to their appearance…if you like worked-out guys, you have to be more worked-out yourself,” he said to Men’s Health.
As a counselor who has worked with a lot of guys around body image issues, I can share with you first hand that men care plenty about their personal appearance.
As a tribe, we may not talk about how we look with one another because of social taboos. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t constantly thinking about it.
Here’s the thing. The male grooming industry is a multi-billion dollar endeavor. As time has gone on, an increasing number of companies have begun catering to our demographic.
If you don’t believe me, just take a walk down the aisle of your local grocery store or pharmacy. You’ll find entire sections now dedicated exclusively to men. In fact, some are so large now that they’ve got special signage.
My point is simply to say that we shouldn’t be shocked that men are seeking out cosmetic procedures to enhance their looks. This includes muscle implants.
As constructs around masculinity continue to change, we should expect old ways of thinking about “manliness” to evolve. That’s something we can all cheer, right?
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Sadly, some in the media have framed the increases described above as abnormal; almost as if by anatomical definition, guys shouldn’t be visiting a cosmetic surgeon.
But is this approach helpful to those who struggle with serious body image problems? Wouldn’t it make more sense to talk about this topic in ways that respect where men are at in the here and now instead of 1950?
As an aside, some of the very websites reporting the uptick in cosmetic procedures and feigning shock also happen to have a heavy presence in the men’s personal care and appearance space.
So, is the pressure really just from social media?
The hard truth is we are going to see more and more men opting for cosmetic procedures. We shouldn’t jump to conclusions and assume all of them have a distorted self-concept or are in some way broken.
Perhaps they are a reflection of where men are at today?