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America's New Male Body Obsession

It's official: The male gaze has turned upon itself, and American men are focused on their physiques as never before. From Marky Mark's abs and the transformation of Marc Jacobs to the rise of Abercrombie & Fitch and the fall of Anthony Weiner, here are the 41 moments that changed the way we look in the mirror.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Look around. Everywhere you turn, the male form is being idealized, commodified, fetishized. On TV screens (the ripped vampires of True Blood), in Hollywood (Ryan Gosling's toned torso lifting Crazy, Stupid, Love to the top of the box office), and on billboards (towering images of chiseled men in briefs), laptops, and smartphones (the appendages of Weiner and Favre). Now look in the mirror. (And we know you do.) We've all become body-conscious to the core (not to mention conscious of our core). Working out more, eating better, dressing in slimmer clothes, getting the hedges trimmed (and maybe even a nip or a tuck). Because, in the end, we all want to look as good as David Beckham does in briefs. Have we entered a grand age of self-improvement? Or is it narcissism? Or homoeroticism? It's all those things, and more—41 in all. These are the moments that changed the way we see the male body.

2. Preppy or Porn?

Middle America wasn't ready for Abercrombie & Fitch's daring late-nineties rebrand. Protests and lawsuits often followed the publication of Bruce Weber's über-preppy, barely legal photography on giant billboards and on the pages of the A+F Quarterly magalog (the 2003 holiday issue featured photos of a circle jerk and discussed oral-sex tips). If rippling six-packs and lithe legs—plus a heady dose of homoerotic appeal—are now integral elements of your average high-schooler's deepest aspirations, the credit (or blame) goes to A&F.

Photo: Splashnews.com

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