For decades feminists have attacked Barbie for her sexualization and unrealistic body expectations. I did not raise girls. I raised boys. He-Man and many of his little plastic buddies do the same thing to boys. The percentage of boys with the genetics to become half the size of He-Man is very low.
As boys approach puberty, they become acutely aware of their own physical shortcomings. The Houseguest and the Spawn were both great looking kids. They were athletic. They ate a reasonably healthy diet. At about the age of 11 or 12, they began to become more concerned with their appearance.
We live in a beach town in Florida. A solid eleven months out of the year it is beach weather. Kids wear short sleeve shirts most of December. There is no “beach” season. We have three days of winter and must turn on the A/C so we can enjoy our fireplace in January…but I digress.
Boys have body image issues, but unfortunately, boys don’t whine about how “fat” they are. Many of them keep it to themselves. Girls are called “fat” and boys are called both “fat” and “scrawny.” There are things kids of both genders need to understand about their body image. Young impressionable children don’t understand why they aren’t as “perfect” as the celebrities they see on TV.
Here is some information that may help:
- Photoshop — I hate to admit it, but I’ve used Photoshop a great deal. I have it on my computer right now, latest version. I can retouch anyone and anything. I’ve done it in the past with my own pictures. I didn’t do it on this blog, first time ever. My kids grew up watching me retouch a picture for 30 minutes before posting it. In fact, the Houseguest would frequently comment that the pictures “don’t look like us.” My reply was that the picture of celebrities don’t look like the celebrities. In fact, a famous quote from the supermodel Cindy Crawford is, “I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford.” Every image boys and girls see in print is heavily photoshopped. Very heavily. There are videos available on YouTube of how extensive this practice is. Watch them with your tweens. You will be shocked as well.
- There are three body types, and you get what you get. The three main body types in humans are: endomorph, mesomorph and ectomorph. Let’s start with ectomorph (which means ghost shaped). These are the rail-thin people who can eat what they please and never gain weight. This was me as a child. It’s great when you’re a female ectomorph. You can be a supermodel. When you’re a male ectomorph, not so much. A male ectomorph can shoot steroids, eat ten meals a day and work out. The result will be joint damage and bad side effects from steroids. The good news is that most ectomorphs don’t get obese easily as they age, but that’s about the only good news.
Next we’ll discuss mesomorphs. This is more or less the “perfect” body type for a guy. Not gigantic, but builds muscle easily. The kind of guy who can have huge arms AND eight-pack abs. This is what I wanted to be as a kid, but never was. It is what both the Houseguest and the Spawn are. Lucky guys. Not much downside to this body type, though as they age, they will gain weight more easily. Girls who are mesomorphs tend to be a bit “thicker” or “athletic.” This look is becoming more popular as time goes by. And last we have the endomorph. These are the huge football player types and their female counterparts. Large bones, thick middle section and cannot slim down for any reason. Fun fact: endomorphs were actually what the Spartan warriors prized as a body type, not the mesomorphs so popular in film today. There are a number of advantages to being an endomorph in certain spots — football is an example. These guys can also lift weights and will increase their bench press dramatically. They can theoretically slim down and develop abs temporarily, though the diet needed to do this is pure torture.
- Different body types will lend themselves to different types of sports. Ectomorphs do well at running, soccer and basketball. Avoid football and lifting heavy weights. An ectomorph kid is going to end up with a lean, lanky body. Mesomorphs can choose from a nearly unlimited variety of sports, though many have difficulty with distance running and endurance, these being more easily accomplished by ectomorphs. Though mesomorphs can participate in football, they are often injured by the larger endomorphs that seem to dominate the game. Wrestling is a sport in which mesomorphs excel. Endomorphs do very well with football. The physical activity is good for them. Low impact activities may be necessary as they age.
- A healthy diet will minimize the difficulties encountered by each body type. It is vital to understand that diet is said to be 80% of health. When I was a Scout leader I saw horrific things placed into Cub Scout lunches, things no human should consume on a regular basis. Odds are sugar is the main ingredient in most of your kid’s food unless you are watching it like a hawk. Diet is a series of articles by itself, but be aware of what they consume.
- Water. Kids need to drink water, and lots of it. Not juice. NOT soda. Water. Lots of water. Water without anything else in it. They will become accustomed to drinking something “with no taste” over a period of months, and they will be healthier in the long run.
Whatever body type your kids have, they won’t be happy with it. They will find something wrong. No one I have ever met is entirely happy with their body. A good diet, great parents and lots of exercise will give them the best body they can have.