Health and fitness form a pivotal part of society, helping us to not only look our best but feel our best too. Health and fitness go hand in hand, and if you are wanting to maintain your physique, you need to ensure you are getting the proper amount of essential nutrients. From finding reviews on the best supplement brands on the market to looking for more health articles, a little help can go a long way. Check out reliable and comprehensive resources like Authority Health that can offer you all the information you may need to sustain a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

Now that you have your nutrition in check, let’s have a look at one of the reasons why we feel so good when we… well… Look so good.

The Gaze

Ever since we humans were able to portray ourselves in a medium – from cave paintings to magazine publications to social media posts – we have always been conscious of the way we have been seen. This is a social theory known as the gaze (the act of seeing and being seen) and is a very deep psychological category that we won’t go into now. For the purpose of this article, all you need to know is that ‘the gaze’ makes us conscious of our external appearance. Slap on a couple layers of the arguably innate desire for power influence, acceptance, and sexual allure; you can start to get an idea of the philosophical soup that is the satisfaction of our perceived need to possess the ideal figure.

If that’s not confusing enough, the social standards by which we mediate these ‘ideal figures’ is always changing. This topic is often focused on the female physique, but men have also had their ideal image evolve. Here is a brief look at the evolution of the ‘ideal male figure’ through the ages.

12,000-8000 BC

Believe it or not, ideas of the ideal body started to develop as early as humans started to evolve themselves. Back in the Neolithic Era, humans made the shift from hunters to farmers. Scientists believe that heavy, bigger men were considered more appealing than their skinny buddies. This was because big men meant big meals which meant power over the land to cultivate feasts.

800 BC-146 BC

Fast forwarding to Ancient Greece, where the ideal man was carved out of stone; literally. Lean and muscular bodies were all the rage, however unrealistic as they were. The Guardian reckons “They have muscle groups that mortal men can’t ever achieve: you could go to the gym every day for a year and you wouldn’t acquire an Apollo’s belt as these statues boast.”

800-1000 AD

There isn’t much exciting information about the ideal male figure in the Middle Ages. Judging from the history books and artworks of the time – the words “religious” and, rather fittingly, “average” in build comes to mind.

1450 – 1990

Stay with me here for a fun round of quick-fire descriptions!

  • 1450-1960: Renaissance men – Da Vinci’s perfect proportions.
  • The 1700’s: The “Macaroni’s” – Fashionable and slightly feminine; I’m talking wigs, makeup, the works.
  • Late 1800’s – the Early 1900’s: Big bellied, dad bods.
  • The 1920’s: Slim and sexy, old-school Holywood.
  • 1930’s – 1940’s: Fit and built up bod.
  • The 1950’s: Executive suits.
  • The 1960’s: James Bond suave and style; broad shoulders and flat stomach.
  • Late 1960’s – Early 1970’s: Androgyny (think Bowie and Jagger).
  • 1980’s: Hypermasculine hard bodies vs. glam metal (Schwarzenegger vs. Kiss).
  • 1990’s: Increasingly muscular.

The 21st Century

With the rise of the internet, we humans are more connected now than ever before – which has given us the incredible opportunity to share opinions and ideas at lightning speed. In saying so, what is deemed ‘ideal’ is no longer determined by the few ‘trendsetters’ of the day. Take the rise of the dad bod – which has been trending since 2015!

Another thing about connectivity is how we are starting to realize that the ideal body shape is perceived differently by the gazer (which makes a load of sense really). For example, women and men see the ‘ideal image’ as different things. If that doesn’t throw a spanner in the works, there is also the ideal male image that differs between different countries. This may be cause for confusion for some, but a relief for others. If you don’t feel like the gym is for you, just move to a country where your body would be appreciated for what it is!

All jokes aside, despite what your body may look like or the ideal you are wanting to embody, your self-image can skyrocket by only exercising a single thing: your self-confidence. From the early humans claiming their farmlands to the fabulous Macaroni’s to the hypermasculine; each man was deemed ideal because of the confidence he displayed in his ability to do what he needed to do.