April 28, 2009

Where's the Beef?

I happened across an article lately that made me laugh and got me thinking. The journalist asserts in the article that the fashion market is shifting it's view of the ideal man, from metro-twig to beefy beefcake. And, she claims the reason for this shift stems from the economic crisis we are now facing. She says, and I quote:
"Metrosexual twigmen who admire your shoes are all very well in good times, but when the going gets tough, what you actually want is a real man. As I stick my head out of my window, I smell a change in the evening air. Everywhere I look big, dark, hairy, slightly fat men are staring at me—from advertising billboards, cinema screens and the pages of glossy magazines. They growl, they glower, they exude menace and demonic sex appeal. I wonder, could it be—could it really be—that the beefcake is back?"
I find this amusing on several levels. First of all, I don't really keep up with the male "image" or how it's changing. That said, I totally got all of her references, and in my mind I'm thinking, wow, she's right. People are more drawn to beefy men these days, what my DH refers to as "the meatwagon." She continues:
"Every credit crunch cloud has a silver lining. We are already saying goodbye to haute cuisine, ugly, overpriced handbags and [expensive clothing]. Why did we ever pay so much for a bit of ribbon and a label? What was wrong with us? Were we mad? [Now,] we are kissing hello to supermarket [off] brands . . . and making do. And, best of all things . . . men who look as if they might actually be men are back.Goodbye metrosexual twigman with your sad little manbag—you never did it for me—and hello beefcake beast. Where have you been?"
Ok, maaayyybe . . . Do our spending habits really dictate what sort of body type we are attracted to? It seems like a bit of a stretch right? Are women really attracted to more meaty men in time of economic downturns? To prove her point, this journalist gives us a case-in-study: Hollywood.

"It should come as no surprise. Economic depressions have always walked hand in hand with the worship of raw machismo. That is just the way it goes. Ask Hollywood, if you don't believe me.

Who was the number one box office star of the troubled 30s? Fred Astaire with his tiny feet and silly hats? Not a chance. It was dark, dangerous Clark Gable (he of 'Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn') with rugged Spencer Tracy—a man who looked as if he'd kill anyone who wouldn't serve him a drink—right behind him. The next big recession was the 70s, when Hollywood gave us Robert De Niro, Gene Hackman and Jack Nicholson, none of whom you'd want to throw a punch at.

And this time it's no different. Leonardo DiCaprio, Ed Norton, [and James Blunt]—chinless drips the [lot] of them—are ebbing away in the popular consciousness. They have been replaced by Hugh Jackman, the massive Australian with the massive chest, and Clive Owen, the British star with the nasty growl.

(Yes, I do realize this is a picture of Daniel Craig not Clive Owen.)

[T]he beefcake must be back. In the fickle fashion industry, things are changing, too. In the affluent 90s, the men on the billboards simply shrank. They were tiny, childlike men with no body hair and spindly legs. They had concave faces, hollow cheekbones, jutting hips and the open, bewildered expressions of children. But that is all over."
So true. Gone is the euro-trash look, back is the rough-and-tumble man's man. The Return of the Beefcake, sounds like an Indiana Jones sequel. And what do we have to thank for it's return? Economic hardship. Seems kind of like a win-lose situation. Although, you wouldn't have to necessarily look at it that way. You could look at it as getting back to your roots, remembering what's really important, and having that kind of satification can only result after a day of hard labor.

"In the last boom, we had computers, call centres and automation—and money, so much money, to do everything for us. We lived in a highly sophisticated, fantastical, touch-screen culture where beefcake man was surplus to requirements. . . . Better to have a girl-man who looks like Keira Knightley and can discuss all your consumerist junk with you. But things have changed. Our economy is splintering, our seas are rising and house prices are falling. Look away from the page and look back. Yes, your house just lost another £50 in value. We are afraid, and we should be. So what do we do?
We should choose beefcake. . . . It is better to have a man who can mend things for you. And butcher sheep. And build houses and grow vegetables and make things out of bits of wood. Won't you feel safer? Won't you feel better, knowing that there is a serious lump of muscle between you and the cold, cruel world outside?"
In this sense, I'm glad I decided to choose my beefcake baby in times of plenty. I have no doubts that my meatwagon DH could dig a well, plow a field, or lift large amounts of lumber.

One summer, right before DH went back to school, he spent some time doing landscaping work. He'd come home every night with his salt dried skin and dirty hands, and he'd smile. I remember one particular day when he came home in a terrific mood after a long, hot, July day. "I conquered it," he said. He had mowed the steepest hill on the face of the earth, alone and with only a half-working lawn mower. Tan and ripped: those were the fruits of a two-month long stint of physical labor. Otherwords described as: beefcake.

So, I'm sorry if there are any of you ladies out there who opted for the other kind of man. I'm sticking with my Drover. =) Unfortunately, I don't think the beefcake look will ever come for the opposite sex though, as the female modeling/Hollywood industry seems to lean ever more to the anorexic side of the weight continuum. Certainly in my case, it would have to be called "pudgecake" or "flabwagon," both of which don't sound too appetizing. So, I guess I'll stick with shooting for my BMI range!

*If you want to search out the article, feel free, but I'm not including the link here because these are the best parts. That being said, I don't endorse the original article. You have been warned.


Gini+Eric said...

What an amusing article! I'm pleased with my choice of hunka hunka burnin love as well. I dated some of the aforementioned frippery, hairless boys before Eric and had never realized how awesome it was to be with a man. Hurray for our real men!

Erin_C said...

Thats hilarious. I think I'd consider my man a beefcake too--he always gets asked if he plays football. But what happens when your DH starts his career and gets fancy suits and nice shoes and becomes a girly-man? Ha ha ha.

Great post. Made my day;-)