“J Law’s” nose, Angelina’s lips and Beyonce’s butt. In our 24/7, media-saturated world, it’s no surprise that many women use celebrities’ physical features as guides for their own aesthetic goals. Now a short RealSelf documentary asks a corollary question: Are media images of ripped and chiseled action heroes driving men to pursue their own aesthetic improvements?
We know social perception influences cosmetic procedures, says Chako Suzuki, managing editor for RealSelf, and with the rise of superhero and action-hero movies — and the incredibly fit bodies that go with them — could the average guy feel the need to measure up?
If so, the bar has only gotten higher over time. All you have to do is compare then-and-now images of Batman — i.e., Adam West and Christian Bale — to see the change:
The Hollywood action-hero mold is an evolutionary one. It goes from the muscle-bound hunks of the ‘80s to the Bruce Willises of the 90s, says Mark Bernadin, Deputy Editor, Digital at Playboy. Now that we’ve crested back into this sort of superhero mold, it became, ‘You gotta be able to wear a tank top.’ You don’t have to be huge but you have to make it look good.
Or, as personal trainer Seth Browning puts it,
It’s somewhere between a surfer and a baseball player so you look strong but don’t look bulky necessarily or too top-heavy.
These days, it’s all about the abs, which may explain why liposuction and ab-sculpting procedures are booming. According to ASAPs, men underwent almost 52,000 lipo procedures last year, an increase of 24% over the year before.
Are Batman, Captain America and Wolverine driving the trend? Ultimately, it’s hard to know. Correlation, after all, does not imply causation; on the other hand, it’s also safe to say that those who care about their bodies — men and women — do take cultural influences into account as they consider their options. Doctors who hope to engage them should as well.
Pay attention to media trends
From Abercrombie ads to the local multiplex, flat, muscular stomachs are on display everywhere you look. Surrounded by such imagery, it’s not surprising that a lot of Joe Six-packs also want six-pack abs. Even if they’re not driven to get them by the media, recognizing the larger cultural milieu can help you frame the conversation.
Recognize the changing workplace
Looking beyond the big screen, it’s clear that the workplace is playing a big role in men’s interest in a variety of procedures. Combine a tough job market, a youth-obsessed culture and senior managers in their 20s and you have a built-in audience for facelifts, eyelid surgeries and other procedures that can help older men avoid issues of age-ism in the workplace.
Tailor your marketing materials accordingly
Successful outcomes are not just a function of your technical skills; they also depend on realistic expectations and, let’s face it, those buff bodies on the big screen are often a function of lighting, makeup and CGI effects. Explaining what surgery can and cannot do — and doing so in a way that corresponds with the way men shop — will help ensure the story has a happy ending.