The subject of female body image and the pressure that women feel to conform to stereotypical ideals has long been a focus of considerable media attention. But the plight of men in relation to body image has, however, only recently come to the fore. In the last decade, boys and men have been plagued by a variety of body image concerns. So much so that this phenomenon has coined its own (albeit non-medical) term -‘the Adonis Complex.’ Adonis, as we know, was a Greek mythological demi-god who was considered the ultimate in masculine beauty.
So what is it that is causing so many men to suffer from body distortions? In all probability, it is most likely the same factors that are causing women to feel dissatisfied with their appearance. That is, social media, digital enhancement technology and the subsequent elevation of aesthetic expectations, to name but a few.
More recently, though, a finger of blame has been pointed at the popular Love Island show which, who can deny, would make even the most body confident of males question their attractiveness.
Love island, for those who haven’t seen it, is a reality TV dating show where the dress code is well... minimal. Set in a Majorcan villa, contestants are given six weeks in which to sun and shmooze their way to dating success.
But what is it about Love Island that has managed to de-commission Adonis himself from modern body dysmorphic diagnostics?
The reasons are three fold.
Sure...Adonis was muscley, but the Love Island stars are next level beefy, thereby increasing the disparity between the norm and the modern idyll.
It doesn’t end there..
As if dramatically upsized biceps weren’t enough to edge ‘perfection’ just outside the realms of achievabilty, a handful of new Mr Perfect criteria have further upped the attractiveness ante. Teeth are whiter and straighter, tans are darker and bodies are more depilated than ever before. As if working out wasn’t hard enough, they’ve now got to find the time to bronze and wax between gym sessions...and living a life.
Reality too far
Men have probably always suspected the ruthlessness of the female dating rationale, but it’s quite another thing to actually witness their decision making processes on live (ish) TV! The unique insight that Love Island provides into the female mind has the potential to dent many a male confidence, particularly when a preference towards the stereotype of tall, dark and handsome is proved again and again.
The health implications of the Love Island Complex not only relate to the anxiety of lowered self-esteem, but also the typical response to this symptom, which can range from extreme exercise to dieting and even steroid use in some cases.
So what is the solution? The most obvious answer of switching over at 9pm isn’t necessarily the answer. Taking perceptions with a pinch of salt is the best approach in self-care male Love Island fans can probably take. The pedestal of perfection is not necessarily the platform to confidence and love that men think it is, since the look involves such sacrifice and commitment that it can instead be quite isolating, and thus counterproductive to the end goal of getting (and keeping) a partner. It’s certainly worth remembering, no man is an island, unless of course they’re an iron-pumping ‘islander’!