buff superhero bodiesCongrats, ladies, we're not the only ones feeling terrible about how we look! Hurrah for equality? Maybe not. Feeling insecure about your body is not cool for anyone, but the superhero boom of the 21st century may be changing how men feel about their bodies, and changing how women expect men to look.

RealSelf recently shared a video on the male body image topic (see below), noting that interest in male body shaping procedures is on the rise. According to their data, liposuction and ab sculpting were the most performed male procedures of 2013. They went in search of what was driving the interest, knowing that pop culture tends to influence cosmetic procedures. They talked to some average Joes at Comic-Con, and an actor shared his pressure to adjust his body to the new leading man ideal.

For a while there, sitcoms and movies focused on giving viewers variations of the schlubby guy in a baggy T-shirt and shorts, often paired with a much hotter and fitter wife/girlfriend. That may have been the straight male fantasy -- just be yourself and let your lady friend worry about looking perfect! -- but now we have the flip side, with handsome action heroes saving the world while looking like gods in the process. (Sometimes, in the case of Thor, they are literally playing gods.)

So today we have the likes of Wolverine, Batman, and Captain America on screen, and a changed romantic comedy formula that prompts Emma Stone to note that her leading man, Ryan Gosling, has a body so perfect it looks Photoshopped. Youth-centric networks like The CW have their own flawless-looking male heartthrobs, with more shirtless guys rocking eight-packs on shows like HBO's "True Blood" and ABC's "Dancing With the Stars." And that's not to mention boy band stars like One Direction stealing the hearts of impressionable tweens, or Justin Bieber going shirtless as often as possible, so we note that he too has very little body fat.

They're setting a high bar for male beauty -- if you consider a fit, muscled figure to be beautiful. That kind of thing still remains in the eyes of the beholder, and not everyone judges from a shallow perspective. But with millions of fans beholding superhero films, and idolizing the male stars who play them, it's hard to imagine that won't influence how the next generation of boys wants to look.

categories Movies, Tv News