A strong case against muscles

If you were to do an image search for “the ideal man,” and you didn’t mind having that in your browser history, you would come upon image after image of jacked-up masculine figures of steel, sculpted and gleaming, tightly packed with muscles like human sausages. Oh, and Patrick Dempsey.

The ideal man is buff.

But here’s the thing: We need to give muscles a rest.

As a society, we’ve finally come around to talking about how a man should act, but we rarely talk much about how a man should look. We’re in an age of emerging gender equality, and it turns out men feel equally bad about their bodies as women.

Like women, men have a tough time living up to the ideal. For those without a hope of ever achieving that ideal – or, in my case, ever bothering to try – it can lead to feelings of inadequacy, doubts about masculinity and fears of getting smooshed, because those dudes are big!

So it’s very simple: for men to feel good about their average bodies, Channing Tatum has to go. It’s time to accept the fact that the hyper-muscled ideal is not only unrealistic but unnecessary.

I’m not talking about avoiding exercise or sitting like a lump at a desk doing nothing, which, as we know, leads to high risk of becoming a Canadian senator. I’m talking about no longer building muscles for the sake of building muscles.

For starters, spending hours at the gym solely to enhance one’s quadroplex or delton johns is a drain on productivity, time that could be spent contributing to the economy, volunteering for the arts or making me cookies.

It’s also not practical; in real life, there is rarely a pressing need for squats.

In ancient times, muscles had their place. Strength was survival. If you wanted something, you had to work physically hard for it. But we are no longer hunters and gatherers; we are shoppers and mortgagers.

Where once our leaders were the strongest in the tribe, today physical strength is hardly considered. Take the Prime Minister of Canada, for instance, a normal-sized human with otherworldly hair. Yes, we’ve seen the photos of him doing yoga poses (known as the Downward Deficit), but everyone knows that yoga muscles are only in your mind.

And the President of the United States is 98% cream cheese. Nothing he has done has been achieved through physical strength but rather through thugishness, opportunism, deception, collusion, lies, boorishness, petty-mindedness, pandering, division, stupidity, narcissism, self-interest and hairspray alone!

But, you say, muscles can still contribute to survival, for instance if you were thrown off a ship in the middle of the ocean. Sure, those muscles might allow you to tread water for an extra hour, but it would only prolong the inevitable, for the sea will have its way and drag you into its watery crypt. So I guess you’re sorry now you ticked off those Kurdish sailors with the joke about the mung beans, aren’t you?

More proof that enhanced muscles aren’t necessary? Women can do anything men can do; women are less muscular than men; therefore anyone can do anything without muscles! That’s logic, just like it’s logical that many muscular women will now challenge me to arm wrestle.

In the end, why do we need six-pack abs when one pack will do, or even box-of-wine abs?

As a flimsy man, I can attest that most all basic human functions can be performed with only everyday muscles, including raking, shovelling, child rearing, home repair and marathon back rubs with no expectations of reciprocal sex.

Need to move something heavy? Call a friend! Social interaction is good for you, therefore living muscle-free improves quality of life, as well as the chances of borrowing a truck.

There are other benefits of having moderate to zero muscles: the ability to snake one’s arm up a drainpipe to retrieve a set of dentures (it happens); hiding exceptionally well in small spaces to avoid agitated Kurds; looking really good in drag. The list, unlike my endurance, goes on.

I’m happy that I’m not a super-muscular guy. The only thing I need to hammer out are columns like this, which can be like pulling teeth, and sometimes it takes all my strength to go on – yours too, I’m sure.

So let’s get rid of the muscular ideal. Call it sour grapes if you want, but be aware that’s also the term I use to describe my biceps.

About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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33 Responses to A strong case against muscles

  1. Functionality, especially as we get older is the real prize. I have to laugh when I’m at the gym and I hear men talking about their protein powders and reps. Their arms have gotten bulked out to the point where they’re as functional as a T-Rex’s. Better to have fully functioning arms, Ross.

  2. HUGE LOL at the senator gag. Nicely writ.
    However, I think you owe cream cheese an apology. Not that I disagree with the descriptors of a certain foreign personality, it’s just that I’d hate to see a bagel topping lose status by association.
    (I remember Gumby, but it you share that tidbit, I’m denying every last syllable.)

  3. Jesus, that arm looks like it was drawn by William Blake!

    I’ve heard that women like the “dad bod” these days. I think they’re making a mistake encouraging their men to look like they have a medicine ball under their sleeveless t-shirts, though. Up with the 98-pound weakling! Sexy.

  4. Enough already with the lean and hungry look, they think and exercise too much. Let me have men about me that are fat, Orange-headed men, and such as sleep o’ nights, and text incoherent trash in their sleep…

    • rossmurray1 says:

      That was beautiful. Poetic. Lumpy.

      • I have to join the other enraged protestors here, and stick up for cream cheese. I grew up on bagels and have a grandmother from Philly. How about “Tub O’ Cheesy Spread-It-Thick Pseudo-Neufchâtel”,
        And frankly, Gumby gives me the willies. Pokey, ok, that’s a cute horse. But we always used actual erasers that looked like Gumby, so he was always missing limbs or part of his head. Creepy.

  5. I’m going to disagree with one item: Trump can’t be 98% cream cheese. Cream cheese gets soft when it isn’t refrigerated. This isn’t a problem in Canada where it is always cold. In the good ol’ USA, where temperatures get above 19 degrees, a Trump made of cream cheese would be a pool of white goo. I believe he is constructed from horse road apples.

  6. Hilarious. I’m glad you wrote this, because now I feel better about myself.

  7. List of X says:

    Actually, if you fall into the sea, you want to have fat, not muscle – fat gives you buoyancy because it’s lighter than water (unlike muscle which is heavier) and it insulates you from the cold water. Ever notice how dolphins and whales never have six-packs?
    Also, I don’t mind if Channing Tatum goes away. I’m sure a number of women can be convinced to take him and keep him out of the public eye for the next couple of decades.

  8. ksbeth says:

    first off, i can’t get over trudeau. doing anything, or not. just breathing. okay, i’ll move on.

    i like your thesis, and i think we exercise mostly to just to be able to keep moving at this point, anything else is a bonus. p.s. i have always said that i could live off my body for at least two weeks if my plane crashed in the arctic. like that made for tv movie with ed asner and sally struthers where they had to share a tube of toothpaste to survive, without the toothpaste.

  9. I’m never eating cream cheese again, it’s mascarpone for me from this day forward, which will cost me three times as much now. Thanks a lot Ross.

  10. Nice try, noodle boy. Now, drop and give me twenty!

  11. Obviously, this post is for the ladies. Tell them to stop judging us so our inner-slobs can come out. I hate exercise but I hate being laughed at even more. But as I get older, the balance is starting to tip. Pretty soon I won’t give a damn about being laughed at. Looking forward to it.

  12. Ahdad says:

    I see you’re stretchin’ those writing muscles a bit…

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