Are Love Is­land’s men in cri­sis?

Grazia (UK) - - 10 Hot_ Stories - Martin is editor of men’s web­site the­bookof­


WHO’D HAVE THOUGHT that the most fas­ci­nat­ing in­sight into Bri­tish men to­day could be found on Love Is­land? The key trait that all the lads on the show share is anx­i­ety, or ‘prang­ing’, as they’ve re­branded it.

There’s Jack: Shakin’ Stevens with yo­gurt pots for teeth, who’s a nice guy trapped in self-de­feat­ing cir­cles (‘I was gut­ted that she just wants to be friends, but I had to brush it off ’). And there’s Alex, the doc­tor, who has found be­ing the smartest one in the group makes him pitiable (‘I feel like a leper,’ he groaned), and Niall, king of the prang, the most like­able of the lads, who is nev­er­the­less a raw nerve-end­ing, hy­per-alert to ev­ery slight against him.

But, in tune with women ev­ery­where, I want to con­cen­trate on Adam. Or as I call him, The Walk­ing Man­i­fes­ta­tion of Ev­ery­thing That’s Wrong.

Now, ad­mit­tedly, there’s pure jeal­ousy go­ing on here – of his body carved out of oak and his face sculpted from puppies. My girl­friend spits rosé when­ever he’s on screen and says things like, ‘ You know, I’ve never been with a really mus­cu­lar man.’

But, more pro­fes­sion­ally, I find Adam most riv­et­ing be­cause he’s the em­bod­i­ment of to­day’s male phys­i­cal ideal. (An ideal that has, in­ci­den­tally, prompted a surge in an­abolic steroid use – with lat­est re­search show­ing over one mil­lion peo­ple in the UK now take drugs to en­hance how they look.) Adam is cer­tainly no men­tal ideal, but he has the body of the mo­ment, with the huge torso, tats and beard. When he walked in, the other men au­to­mat­i­cally judged him to be top dog, purely be­cause of his ap­pear­ance.

Be­ing judged on this ba­sis is, of course, some­thing women have had to deal with for mil­len­nia. But now men are be­ing as­sessed in purely vis­ual terms too, and placed in the peck­ing or­der ac­cord­ingly. The other boys in the house went to pieces at the sight of Adam, im­me­di­ately prang­ing out in fear that he’d take a fancy to their part­ners, as­sum­ing those part­ners would go for this ob­vi­ously bet­ter man. Only Niall took him on, in his own nervy way, declar­ing, ‘He’s Go­liath and I’m David.’

In con­trast, de­spite all the dis­cus­sion around fe­male body in­se­cu­rity, the Love Is­land women don’t seem to be as­sess­ing each other in the same way – cre­at­ing some sort of hi­er­ar­chy based on their in­side leg mea­sure­ments. They’re leav­ing that to the boys; where Adam, the ‘ big sledge­ham­mer’ (Niall again), is au­to­mat­i­cally the alpha.

To­day, men are carv­ing out a self-worth at the gym that they’re not find­ing at home or work in shift­ing so­cial times. In this Prang-aged­don, a good body has be­come the height of mas­cu­line aspiration. It seems that, while women have been try­ing for years to es­cape be­ing judged purely in phys­i­cal terms, men have lost their heads and gone af­ter it.

What’s go­ing on here? The ob­vi­ous cul­prit is so­cial me­dia, where per­fect bod­ies are flexed to the envy of ev­ery­one else. This stuff is per­va­sive, es­pe­cially as it hits you end­lessly all day long from the palm of your hand. No won­der eat­ing dis­or­ders in men have risen 70% since 2010. Per­haps the best we can say is that this is true equal­ity of the sexes – now we’re both as messed up as each

other. De­press­ing, much?

Left: Jack. Right: alpha Adam. Top: the boys, in­clud­ing Niall (far right) and Alex (third from right)

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