So the male mannequins are getting skinnier as we in the general population get larger. No surprise there. The twinning of skinniness with girth growth has been evident since the days of Twiggy, when the formally differently sized and shaped female population were exhorted to take on this new diminishing of a woman's form and, as a result, got larger.
Not that it was Twiggy's fault, but the ubiquity of her image created a sense in young women that to be stylish meant to be skinny, flat-chested with an ingénue face and straight hair. We women, and there were millions of us, tried to fit to the mode. There was dieting, lots and lots of it, and while it worked for some – for some of the time – mostly women got bigger rather than smaller as dieting cycling sent them on the fastest way to gain weight.
Periodically, Rootstein, the makers of shop mannequins, shave down the bodies that go into shop windows. Sleeker and sleeker sculptures – so slimmed down that the clothes have to be pinned in a concealed manner to fit – fill the visual display, implying that this is what a body should be. And in the wake of this the beauty, fashion, cosmetics, diet and fitness industries get decidedly fat as people rush to reshape their bodies, only to fail so spectacularly that they seek ever more products, which purport to help, but bring havoc instead.
This multibillion pound/dollar/euro market, so well established with women and girls, has been aching to expand. And so it has to China, to Saudi, to Russia, turning thinness into an aspiration for girls and women and churning massive profits. No wonder, then, that for that last 15 years men and younger men have become ever more exposed to similar marketing.
Men's magazines today resemble Cosmopolitan of 20 years ago. They encourage guys to reach for the same rotten solutions to the problems of living that have been endlessly proffered to women. Transform your body, use male moisturiser, make up, get rid of those man boobs, see yourselves as a diminutive pouting strutting yet vulnerable boy/man whose ideal body is ever shrinking. Aspire to that and distinguish yourself by your ability to sculpt a body as the fashionistas imagine it. Separate yourself from the diverse physicalities so magnificently captured by Spencer Tunick in his bodies of flesh. Make a new body. Make a new self.
It's working. Boys, young men, men of all ages are being captivated by the new visual grammar which pushes men to pout and posture. The more it is there, and the more we succumb, the larger will men's girths become and the bigger the profits of those companies praying on transforming men's bodies. Don't do it, guys. Reject this new uniformity. Dare to be as physically robust and varied as you always were. Don't fall into being the latest bait in the breeding of body insecurity.