Chasing that Beach Body? Here’s “An After-Gym Advice” – A Poem

An After-Gym Advice

A. A. Kamalov

Away from the attention of the
Glitzy, God-awful world, where
Anorexics grace the Paris runways, exists
A parallel universe. Another half struggles
For God-like perfection.

The struggle is real – no less
For Mr. Nice-Guy in glasses,
Bombarded by screens, by magazines,
By fantasies and fallacies
Of superior self-esteem.

The raw brawn of bloated arms,
Towering bricks and tree-trunk thighs,
Bulging veins threatening to burst
With vacuous masculinity.
Yet the sacrifice is emptiness –

It’s all in vain. You attempt to alter yourself,
A regular Joe to hot-bod Adonis,
But you’re not – you’re just Narcissus.
Try glancing at the mirror. You can’t!
Staring hard, always addicted and obsessed.

Draped in shrunken baby-clothing,
The constant stream of selfies
Relentless in my Instagram feed, you feed
Not just on protein shake, but on
Much needed attention and envy.

Does that make you a man?
Neither an athlete nor Olympian,
You lack heroism; just shameless,
Shameless prostitution! A Greek statue
Serves the same purpose.

Apparently the Sun revolves around
Treadmills, yoga-mats and dumbbells;
The bulk-and-cut cycle your seasons.
But bro, that blind devotion is laughable!
Don’t be dumbass and pick up a book.

Any sort of reading will do. I recommend
Medical literature, the science of muscles
Will surely interest your ignorant mind.
Put your experience into expertise, instead of
Baiting big-bosomed blondes for bed.

You have a choice. You’re seventeen,
Horny and hormonal, gym-jocks like you
Disregard reality, their prize money
A bleak future of menial labour.
Just don’t sell yourself short, dude.

Author’s Afterword:

SUN’S OUT, GUNS OUT: I bet you’ve seen at least one of these types of slogans before plastered on some sleeveless shirt on sale on a summer’s day. It’s that time of the year again where people go out and have fun, enjoying warmer temperatures outdoors with friends and family members. But on the other hand, on the run up to summer, the media would churn out messages like “Get yourself beach body ready!” and “6 Pack Abs for Summer” and other so-called “motivational messages” to encourage men to look like Channing Tatums and Zac Efrons in preparation to a shirtless beach exposition. This is what I was referring to in the first stanzas of the poem.

This poem is not meant to throw shade at people who work out and care for their fitness and looks. In fact, I have a deep respect for those who work hard to keep themselves in top shape while opposing the wave of rising obesity in many countries around the world. However, what I do have a problem with is the relentless media attention towards a certain body type (more specifically, the athletic, muscular look) in men which DO result in similar problems that women get when trying to be beautiful in the way the media tells them to. Men DO suffer from anxiety, loss of self confidence and depression from feeling inadequate because of the way they look. Men also can suffer from anorexia, bulimia and overeating. Not everyone can just shake it off and lift his way to a better body; it’s never that simple. The emotional and mental pressure caused by the society we live in can have a major impact for the rest of our lives.

There are many people out their who did achieve their desired body type and shape and work day and night, relentlessly, to maintain or improve it. But for what? Some people grow obsessed and narcissistic in pursuit of this “aesthetic”, always feeling inadequate with the muscles they already have and think they should “get bigger”. To top it all, it is very superficial, in my opinion, to post photos on social media and seeking approval from random strangers to give yourself an ego boost. There is so much more to one as a person than just a pretty body with a cute face, and that goes for both men and women. Empathy, kindness and intellect engages one in a far deeper way than simply looking attractive. So for those who are struggling out there because don’t look a certain way, as long as you’re eating healthily, exercise regularly and get enough sleep, you’ll be fine. Don’t take the media’s skewed ideals of a masculine body image to heart because you’re so much more than just your looks. Until then, have a wonderful day everyone!