No, western men are not the only standard of beauty

Tall, handsome, muscular, with clean and square facial features. For years we’ve been thinking - thanks to the movies and advertising - that the perfect man had these characteristics. Yet a study made by experts at the University of Lincoln, in the United Kingdom, and published in the journal, Frontiers in Psychology, show that this might not actually be the case. The “western” man is not the only standard of beauty. Or, more precisely, a model for beauty does not always develop from western stereotypes, but is linked more to “local” factors. The idea for the study came from the realization that most research conducted on sociocultural influences, including those relating to dominant models of masculinity, concentrate on the so-called “WEIRD population” (an acronym form Wester, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic.

More or less those living in rich and developed nations). This would imply that many current conclusions proposed by science, for example those about steroid abuse or the adoption of unhealthy diets, could be partly distorted. To dig deeper into the question, the authors of the study compared a group of British men with a group of Ugandan men and a group of Nicaraguan men. The gathered and evaluated demographic and physical parameters (such as body mass index). A questionnaire was given to the participants asking them to self-evaluate their levels of masculinity and to compare it with their own idea of  the “ideal body.”

The results showed, for example, that Nicaraguan men, while saying they are “little worried”about their physical appearance, want, nonetheless, to increase muscle mass. “It has to do with a behavior that could come from local ideas on masculinity,” explains Tracey Thornborrow, lead author of the study, “in particular, the idea that having a muscular body means that one is a hard worker, rather than a lazy person. In Nicaragua, most work is in fact, of a physical nature.” The picture emerging from the study is not altogether conclusive and the scientists have underlined the need to conduct further research to understand the links between culture and standard of body image.

HFTHQ 20-01