Tuesday, March 25, 2008
I was thinking the other day about the objectification of the male form, and how we never used to see men’s bodies used in advertising the way we do today. Twenty or thirty years ago ad models were almost all women, with long Farrah hair and glossy lips. It was’t until the ‘90s, I think, when companies like Abercrombie & Fitch discovered a gold mine of advertising potential in attractive young men.
I mean, there was always the Marlboro man, but male models were usually like him -- dignified, rugged and clothed. I’m not sure whether seeing more male skin represents social progress or regression, but we’re definitely seeing more of it today.
Remember the Chippendales? When I was in high school, they were about the only guys I knew of who took their clothes off for commercial purposes. (For those of you unacquainted with the Chippendales, they’re a cheezy dance troupe of muscly male strippers.)
Funny story: When I was a high school senior, my girlfriend went to Spencer Gifts at University Square Mall and bought a deck of cards showing the Chippendales in various states of undress. I remember thinking they weren’t that attractive, all oiled and kind of greasy-looking, but I still wanted a deck of those cards myself. (I’m not sure what was going on in my tangled-up psyche at the time -- girlfriend, Chippendales cards -- but whatever.)
I went in to Spencer’s, picked up the cards and bravely approached the cashier, a woman.
“I think these are the cards my girlfriend wants,” I said, uncertainly. The cashier gave me a knowing look (her brain was saying, “Gay!”) and rang them up.
I kept those cards for a year or two, but like I said, I didn’t really think any of the guys were all that great. Oily men in bow ties and thongs just don’t do it for me. Call me crazy.
(Photo: East Village, March 2008)