Forget the styles on the catwalk — it’s in our nature to appreciate a toned body
The fashion shows of London, Milan, Paris and New York have been in full flow lately. The clothes on display often influence the minds and thoughts of the ladies who frequent the shows — but for those of you who didn’t quite manage to bag a front-row seat, you may be unaware that the fashion capitals are trying to influence Mother Nature’s design of the human form.
I’m not sure how to break it to you, so I might as well just give it to you straight. If you are in the gym, striving to be a lean, mean, love machine, it’s over. The six-pack abs? The rippling muscles? Finished. They’re no longer fashionable.
It’s true. Vanity Fair said so. They’ve just declared that the gym body is yesterday’s fashion. The creative director at Barney’s in New York supports the assertion, saying: “Male models have never been so concave. They’re on low-carb diets, and they don’t work out anymore — they jog. It’s a look coming out of Paris…”
The head of Pucci International, a company that makes mannequins for upmarket retailers, says: “The gym body has almost become a cliché.”
But that’s not the worst of it. You know those large breasts many males are so fond of? They’re so last year. Style.com has named legs the latest erogenous zone.
That’s not so bad, though, when you consider the New York Times gave the title to clavicles. That’s right, clavicles. Breasts are so 2008, clavicles are so 2009!
Yes, bony parts are taking the place of fleshy parts. Pucci International reports the bestselling female mannequins are thin, flat-chested, narrow-hipped, and long-legged, with good collarbones.
Mother Nature would turn over in her grave.
Amy Fine Collins, the author of the Vanity Fair article that trumpets the extinction of all things abs and breasts (“The Shape of Thighs to Come”), says that bodies have always followed the lead of fashion and then quickly become passé.
Clavicles are hardly a body part that have been lusted for by the reptilian portion of a male’s brains.
I know that notions of what constitutes the ideal female body have been erratic through the years, and it varies from culture to culture, but the essence of what influences a male’s decisions has always been pretty much the same.
Males have always liked breasts and they’ve always worshipped a hip-to-waist ratio of about 70pc.
It’s merely our acceptance of body fat levels that have fluctuated.
Fashion is admittedly a powerful force in shaping our perceptions, but male and females’ internal wiring for procreation is immune to the vagaries of fashion.
Men and women’s structural body shapes are dictated by the inheritance of their parents’ genes. In the 1930s, a doctor named William H Sheldon developed the concept of somatotypes, or body types, to help us better understand our bodies.
There are three different body types: Ectomorph, Endomorph and Mesomorph. Ectomorphs have a small, narrow frame with long, lean muscles. Mesomorphs are more muscular and athletic with a medium-sized frame and wider shoulders. Endomorphs have a medium to large frame with a rounder figure.
You cannot change the structure but through the use of intellectual training by an experienced coach, you can target and shape the muscles to create an hourglass figure.
That is what body-building is about: creating an illusion. The bigger the difference between a male’s shoulders and his waist, the greater the illusion of a V-shape, and a more “heroic” form.
Six-pack abs and lean muscles will always be in fashion for males; the size-zero male will never be in fashion.
From Hercules to John L Sullivan to Sandow to Muscle Beach to comic book superheroes to Sly Stallone, men have always gravitated towards muscle.
Fashion, on the other hand, is just a passing whim, destined to be dumped into the back of the closet with my bell-bottom trousers, loud disco shirts and Miami Vice-style shoes.