TIME beauty

How The Media Makes Men Hate Their Bodies Too

Man lifting weights at Kent and Sussex Crossfit.
Man lifting weights at Kent and Sussex Crossfit. Andrew Errington—Getty Images

Celebrity body envy isn't just for women any more.

The grocery store checkout seems specifically designed to make you hate yourself. So many magazines on the shelves, so much focus on fixing our flaws.

If you’re female, you’re too fat, and for the fellas, we’re not nearly buff enough. Have you noticed that for men it’s about adding, and for women subtracting?

Magazines targeted at women want them to “lose” or “trim” or “tighten,” whereas for the men’s magazines it’s “adding inches” or “bulking” or “building.” Even when it comes to weight loss, males are sold on how to “get” ripped abs. Interesting side note: this bigger vs. smaller mentality also applies to genitalia. Men are marketed to being bigger, and for women it’s is all about trimming away “excess” in even the most intimate areas. Geez.

The weight loss claims are all in the realm of science fiction, promising more than a pound of fat lost per day, often adorned with a celebrity doctor’s visage to lend credence to a proclamation that defies the first law of thermodynamics (unless you weigh more than a NFL lineman and are chained to a treadmill while fed only small amounts of broccoli and boiled chicken breasts). By comparison, your perfectly reasonable dropping of one pound per week makes you a total failure.

Then you compare yourself to the Photoshopped actors and feel even worse, until you see the “celebrity body disasters” issue of a gossip rag. In it you’ll see paparazzi-snapped photos of a “Sunken stomach!” and “Man Boobs!” and “Skin disease!” as well as a “Freaky facelift!” and a “Belly nightmare!”

It’s worth noting that those “worst beach body” issues now include male celebrities too. Yes, men are starting to get their fair share of fat shaming. No longer can our culture’s leading entertainers put on a few extra pounds over the top of their board shorts and escape the media’s cruel “beach body” eye. Chris Brown was recently called out by TMZ for his post-prison belly, and the gossip site also called out celebrities like Jack Nicholson and Simon Cowell for their “man boobs.”

Disgusted, you turn away … and are faced with row upon row of chocolate bars and potato chips. You just can’t win.

But it’s not just the tabloids at your local market. The Internet wants to make you feel bad about the way you look as well, often so they can sell you a solution. Surely you’ve seen the poorly drawn cartoon ad of the woman grabbing her belly fat in disgust, and don’t forget the guy selling a “shortcut” to seeing your abs who shames you for being “weak and puny.” The solution usually involves “one weird trick,” and that trick is recurring charges to your credit card.

Turn on the TV and you’ll see fitness star Jillian Michaels berate obese participants on the train wreck game show The Biggest Loser. And instead of being vilified for her fat shaming, she nets fame and riches, earning the moniker “America’s Toughest Trainer” while promoting bias against the overweight.

But maybe those fatties just need a bit of shaming to get off their expanding butt cheeks to get in shape? After all, don’t we live in a nation where more than half the population is obese or unhealthily heavy?

Uh, no. In reality, facing stigma over one’s weight actually increases stress and is detrimental to mental health. What’s more, discriminating against people for being obese doesn’t lead to weight loss, but the opposite: it causes them to gain weight.

And it’s not just fat that’s shamed. Now people are targeted for being “too thin,” and some say bodybuilders “look gross” and “must be on steroids.” Perhaps they are chemically enhanced, but why all the hate?

Hate sells. It’s the marketing strategy of “You are broken, but I can fix you. Buy my product.” In order to get you to fork over mega bucks for some miracle weight loss aid, wrinkle remover, muscle maximizer or genitalia grower, marketers must first make you feel bad enough about yourself that you’ll reach for that credit card to solve a problem you didn’t know you had.

A desire for self-improvement is admirable, but be careful where you look for it, whether you’re male or female. And don’t start from a place of self-loathing and celebrity envy; start from one of aspiration. You can aspire to be your own version of awesome, without having to listen to any advertiser whose shtick is all about heaping criticism.

James Fell is a syndicated fitness columnist for the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times. He blogs at www.SixPackAbs.com. You can follow him @BodyForWife.

TIME allergies

The Hair Dye Allergy You Should Know About

hair dye
Marc Vuillermoz—Getty Images/Onoky

Not a natural blonde or brunette? You might want to be more cautious about coloring your hair. Turns out some people can be extremely allergic to hair dye, as NCIS star Pauley Perrette found out last week when she landed in the hospital with a severe reaction to the stuff.

“Was in ER. Just got home from hospital. Awful. My head swelled up huge like a melon,” Perrette tweeted after posting a photo of her swollen face. Now the star is urging others to read up on hair dye allergies themselves.

“The most important thing to me is that anyone out there that dyes their hair, particularly black, you need to be aware of the symptoms,” she told a local CBS station in Los Angeles.

The actress, who’s a natural blonde, had been dyeing her locks jet black for more than 20 years without incident. Then about six months ago, she developed a rash on her neck and scalp which got worse with every coloring.

Health.com: 16 Hair Myths You Need to Stop Believing

An allergy to hair dye is quite rare, affecting about one in 250,000 people, says Debra Jaliman, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist and author of Skin Rules. Still, it can prove to be just as serious as a nut or shellfish allergy, especially if you’re someone who’s prone to allergic reactions. And while some people may see symptoms the first or second time they use hair dye, it may not happen as fast as you think.

“To be allergic to something, usually your immune system has to come in contact with it and decide it doesn’t like it,” Dr. Jaliman says. “Depending on how sensitive your system is, the allergy may develop more slowly than others.”

That means if you start to see signs of redness, swelling, itching, or burning after several uses of hair dye, don’t write it off. This is your body’s way of telling you an allergy is building up, and continuing to use the dye could actually be fatal. “If you develop a severe allergy, you could get blisters and hives and, though rare, difficulty breathing similar to an anaphylactic reaction,” Dr. Jaliman says. See an allergist or a dermatologist for advice on how to treat your allergy, whether that’s with topical creams or pills like antihistamines.

Health.com:11 Secret Allergy Triggers

If you’re allergic to hair dye, you can blame a chemical called paraphenylenediamine or PPD for your symptoms, Dr. Jaliman says. It’s in most commercial dyes you’d find at both drugstores or hair salons and it helps protect color from fading. Though Perrette called out black dye as being worse than others, you could get a reaction no matter the shade you’re using—or the original color of your hair, Dr. Jaliman says.

If you’re going to dye your hair for the first time, there’s an easy way to tell if you may be allergic. Before coloring your hair, do a skin patch test, typically recommended on most boxed hair color. Basically, you put a bit of dye on your skin and wait 48 hours to see if a reaction develops. If you pass the first time, it’s likely you’re in the clear whether you color at home or the salon, Dr. Jaliman says, and you shouldn’t need to do the test again.

If you do develop an allergy, there are other ways to color your locks safely. Dyes like henna or the line from EcoColors are great natural and non-toxic solutions, she says. Even highlights could be better for you as most use bleach and don’t add color, Dr. Jaliman says. Ask your colorist what formula would be used on your hair.

Health.com: 20 Ways to Stop Allergies

One thing’s for sure: even a mild reaction to hair dye could turn serious. “I wouldn’t be looking into putting chemicals in your hair if you have a history of allergies,” Dr. Jaliman says. “It would probably be best to switch to a chemical-free dye because you don’t want it to escalate into a life-threatening situation.” As for Perrette, she says she’s going to look into natural dyes or wigs.

The Hair Dye Allergy You Need to Know About originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME Body Image

Harvard Women’s Rugby Team Wants You to Know Strength Is Beautiful

Lydia Burns and Shelby Lin

"Ripped," "so strong" and "fearless"

Amid movies and advertisements that promote stick-thin women, and even fitness magazines that focus on “lean” and “toned” bodies, the Harvard women’s rugby team has an important message: strength is beautiful.

The team staged a photo shoot in which they all wore matching sports bras and spandex and wrote empowering messages on each other’s bodies. “Powerful,” reads one girl’s knuckles. “Ripped,” says another’s bicep, and “Beautiful & Fierce!” announces another girl’s stomach.

“I think the notion of strength being beautiful is so overlooked in our society because strength is historically associated with masculinity, and women are taught that they must be strictly feminine to be beautiful,” player Helen Clark told TODAY.com.

The photos were published in June along with an essay in the Harvard Political Review, and have gone viral in recent weeks.

“We hope seeing our photos will encourage women to go out and find a space like rugby where their bodies are celebrated for their inherent strength and power,” Clark said, “Rather than just for how they look in a bikini.”

TIME beauty

#SkinnyDays: Kim Kardashian Says She Misses Her Pre-Baby Body

And gets #OnTheTreadmillRightNOW

Locked in a race with herself, Kim Kardashian tweeted that she was running #OnTheTreadmillRightNOW in an attempt to slim down her body to what she called her “skinny days,” before she gave birth to a 4 pound, 15 ounce girl, when she could still shrink wrap herself into this skin-tight leotard/dress:

Kardashian tweeted the picture of herself, circa 2010, along with the unforgiving caption, “Throwback to a few years ago .”

Her followers responded with a mixture of disbelief (“are you kidding me?), sudden pangs of insecurity (“If she’s currently fat, than idek what tf I am”) and shameless marketing (“Get Your Dress $32.99 Sizes S-2XL”).

Kardashian’s post-baby body dilemma began little more than a year ago on June 15, with the birth of a baby girl and the subsequent public scrutiny of her body in a two-piece swimsuit five months later.

TIME beauty

Other Women Don’t Like Your Sexy Profile Picture

"Sharing those sexy photos online may have more negative consequences than positive"

You might want to think twice before making that bikini shot your profile picture—you could be inviting other women’s scorn. A study released Monday by Oregon State University found that young women judged peers with “sexy social media photos” to be less attractive, less likable and incompetent.

“There is so much pressure on teen girls and young women to portray themselves as sexy, but sharing those sexy photos online may have more negative consequences than positive,” said psychology researcher Elizabeth Daniels.

Daniels and her team created a fake Facebook profile for 20-year-old “Amanda Johnson,” who likes Lady Gaga, The Notebook, and Twilight (don’t we all?). More than a hundred young women between the ages of 13 and 25 were randomly assigned to view Amanda’s profile with either a “non-sexy” picture (Amanda in jeans, a t-shirt and a scarf) or a “sexy” picture (Amanda in “a low-cut red dress with a slit up one leg to mid-thigh and a visible garter belt”). They were then asked to rate Amanda’s attractiveness, likability and competence on a scale from 1 to 7.

The results are depressing. “Sexy” Amanda scored lower in all fields. The largest disparity between the two profiles occurred in her supposed competence, meaning that the sexy picture particularly hindered other women’s perception of her abilities.

However, Daniels also pointed out the negative side effects of having a wholesome photo, such as missing out “on social rewards, including attention from boys and men.” (And that’s really a woman’s main motivator for everything, right?)

But, don’t worry, ladies: Daniels and her team have some keen suggestions on how to avoid others’ baseless assumptions. “Daniels’ advice for girls and young women is to select social media photos that showcase their identity rather than her appearance, such as one from a trip or one that highlights participation in a sport or hobby,” OSU writes.

An important lesson: When other people judge you (and your social media presence) unfairly, it’s up to you to change. Thanks, science.

TIME beauty

‘Skinny Girl’ Bethenny Frankel Wears 4-Year-Old’s Clothes

Instagram post was met with a horrified response from her followers

Bethenny Frankel, former reality TV star and owner of the “Skinnygirl” beverages line, has outraged her Instagram followers after posing in her four-year-old daughter’s clothes.

Frankel, 43, who became famous after starring on The Real Housewives of New York City, sparked horror online after dressing in her daughter Bryn’s pajamas.

She posted the photo Sunday morning along with the caption: “This is my daughter’s nightgown and PJ shorts. Think we’re ready to start sharing clothes yet?”

Most people online did not think that. User jenmo2222 wrote: “I’m sorry this isn’t cute…a grown woman shouldn’t be the size of a 4-year-old especially when they have admitted to having an eating disorder in the past…!”

Fellow Instagram user, nonniedidit echoed her sentiments, commenting: “Women shouldn’t brag about being as thin as a small child… Go eat a sandwich.”

Frankel, however, defied her critics on Twitter, tweeting Monday:

In response to a fan who offered their support Frankel wrote:

Frankel, who sold Skinnygirl in March 2011 for a reported $100 million, has admitted to struggling with her weight. In a 2010 interview with People magazine she confessed: “I was owned by dieting. “I hated myself. I was completely obsessed and consumed.”

 

TIME beauty

This Is the Age Americans Feel Best About Their Appearance

Senior Citizen Couple
An elderly couple is shown smiling in the snow. Matt Hind—OJO Images RF/Getty Images

And men are more confident in their looks than women

Your grandparents may feel better about their looks than you do. In a Gallup survey released Thursday, Americans aged 65 or older were most likely to “agree” or “strongly agree” that they always felt good about their appearance.

Sixty-six percent of the American seniors surveyed gave the two highest possible responses to feeling good about their looks, compared to 61% of 18-34-year-olds and 54% of 35-64-year-olds.

Gallup surveyed over 85,o00 adults to ascertain how Americans’ feelings about their physical appearance change over time. The results showed an overall dip in satisfaction upon entering middle age and a resurgence of confidence among senior citizens, but researchers also found variations regarding gender and race.

Men gave higher satisfaction rates than women at nearly every age, but the differential decreased later in life. African Americans (68%) and Hispanic Americans (67%) also felt more confident in their looks than white (55%) or Asian Americans (62%).

The survey did not, however, try to account for actual attractiveness among respondents, so any correlation between one’s confidence in their appearance and others’ perception of it could not be concluded. “However, older Americans’ looks are generally out of sync with the youthful standard of beauty that prevails in American culture,” Gallup said, “and yet they are most happy with what they see in the mirror.”

TIME beauty

ESPN the Magazine’s 2014 Body Issue Celebrates Different Physiques

Jamie Anderson on the cover of ESPN the Magazine's 2014 Body Issue ESPN the Magazine

See the six covers featuring nude athletes

ESPN the Magazine’s Body Issue has always been an impressive feat in diversity. Both men and women pose nude for the photo shoots, and neither gender is objectified. Rather, the magazine is careful to celebrate the many different types of bodies that result from being in peak physical condition: sometimes that means slim waists for girls and large muscles for guys, but not always. Some athletes need larger leg muscles to propel themselves across a field, a court or ice. Others need to build their upper bodies for weightlifting. Some have tan lines from training outside, some tattoos and some scars.

The result: very different-looking forms, though admittedly all impressive. Julie Chu, who was in the 2011 issue, told TIME earlier this year, “I think that issue really highlights that there’s a lot of different types of bodies for elite athletes, and all of them can be beautiful and strong and confident.”

This year’s selection in particular offers a wide range of male and female athletes, including (in order below) Olympic snowboarder Jamie Anderson, Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, Texas Ranger first baseman Prince Fielder, Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka and seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams.

And those are just the athletes on the covers. Here are some other athletes inside the pages:

Olympic snowboarder Amy Purdy:

World Cup soccer player Omar Gonzalez:

Olympic hockey player Hilary Knight:

World Tour surfer Coco Ho:

See the full slide show here.

[ESPN]

TIME beauty

Tyra Banks’ Strange Sci-Fi Vision of the Future of Beauty

Tyra Banks' Flawsome Ball 2014
Model Tyra Banks attends Tyra Banks' Flawsome Ball 2014 at Cipriani Wall Street on May 6, 2014 in New York City. Michael Stewart—WireImage

"Plastic surgery will be as easy and quick as going to the drugstore for Tylenol."

Women pop pills to temporarily gain Angelina Jolie-like cheekbones; being fat indicates wealth; and women—who will be able to have babies at the age of 120—will rule the world. Sound like a bad sci-fi movie? Welcome to the cosmetically-enhanced future, according to Tyra Banks.

On Monday the Wall Street Journal asked several celebs to write about the future of various industries: Mark Zuckerberg opined on what a world where everyone has access to the Internet will look like, and Taylor Swift wrote about the changing music landscape in which an artist’s connection with the audience is prioritized over the establishment. These celebs stuck to realistic predictions about the near-future. But that’s boring. Model-turned-reality show host Banks decided that the future of beauty looks a lot more like Panem in The Hunger Games.

Let’s set aside the fact that we are nowhere close to achieving the technology Banks is talking about: a serum that increases length and thickness of hair in 24 hours; the ability to conceive and bear children at the age of 120; ingestible pills that temporarily change your bone structure—pretty sure that will never be possible. Her vision of personal robots run by advertising firms, the struggle for uniqueness in a gentrified world and class warfare come directly from bad dystopian novels.

Banks, however, ends on an optimistic note for women: she says that having ultimate control over when they will have children will allow women to run the world: “Women’s empowerment will be an irrelevant concept because the balance of power between the sexes will have shifted dramatically. Women, in control of when they can have children (up to age 120!), and having more degrees and education than men, will be in charge. Men will be responsible for 70% of cosmetics sales and plastic-surgery procedures world-wide. Why? Men will be vying for women’s attention, obsessed with being attractive to females and snagging well-off ladies who can take care of them.” I’m not sure it’s as easy as that: first we have to ensure that women around the world can receive an education and any access to birth control. But I don’t want to crush Banks’ dreams.

 

TIME beauty

A Scientific Explanation For Our Obsession With Sexy Soccer Players

Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristia
Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo leaves the field after the second leg of the Spanish Cup quarter-final "El clasico" football match Barcelona vs Real Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on January 25, 2012. Luis Gene—AFP/Getty Images

It's not just a beautiful game. There are biological reasons so many people prefer footballers over other athletes.

The U.S. team has been knocked out of the World Cup, but that doesn’t mean Americans will stop watching the tournament. If the dozens of hottest soccer players lists on sites like BuzzFeed, Jezebel and Elle are any indication, Americans have finally fallen for international “footballers” like Cristiano Ronaldo (right) who have been global stars for years. The ogling has become so pervasive that writers are debating whether it’s okay to objectify male athletes.

This isn’t your average love affair with the athlete of the moment. It’s a full fledged crush. In the graph below, you can see that Americans have searched “hottest soccer players” more in the past 12 months than they have searched for “hottest football players,” even though the viewership for American football dwarfs that of soccer. (Queries have obviously spiked in the past month during the World Cup which has gotten unprecedented attention in the U.S. this year.) Search terms “hottest basketball players,” “hottest baseball players” and “hottest hockey players” had so little traffic in the U.S. that they didn’t even show up on the chart.


So why are Americans swooning over soccer players more than athletes in sports that are more popular? TIME asked evolutionary biologists, psychologists and sports medicine experts to weigh in.

1. The evolutionary ideal

David Beckham on the cover of Elle UK Elle UK

Evolutionarily-speaking women are attracted to strength and characteristics associated with high testosterone production such as a more masculine face. But scientists are just beginning to discover that women are biologically programmed to be attracted to endurance as well. “Recent studies suggest that in our evolutionary past there has actually been strong selection on endurance performance,” says Erik Postma, a research scientist at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies at the University of Zurich. “Before the invention of spears, we would hunt by chasing down animals to exhaustion. Though we could not outsprint a zebra, over the course of many hours we could outrun it.”

Postma conducted a study in which he asked subjects to rate the attractiveness of the faces of various cyclists, and found that people rated the cyclists with highest endurance most attractive. This is good news for soccer players, who are not only strong but must cultivate endurance in order to survive games: soccer players run an average of seven miles per game, compared to the 2.5 run by basketball players and 1.2 run by receivers and cornerbacks in football (players in other positions run significantly less). “I think that unlike basketball and football players, soccer players might have the ideal combination of strength and endurance,” says Postma.

New York Jets v New England Patriots
Defensive Lineman Vince Wilfork #75 of New England Patriots on September 12, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Al Pereira—Getty Images

Our evolutionary biology then dictates what our culture sees as the ideal male form. “[The soccer player's body] is probably a little closer to the average person’s mental image of what beauty looks like,” says Dr. David Geier, a sports medicine expert and orthopedic surgeon. “When you look at ancient Greek and Roman sculptures of the ideal person, they look more like what soccer players are. They’re pretty regularly proportioned: they don’t have huge upper bodies and small lower bodies, or vice versa.”

2. A more relatable body type

FBL-WC-2014-MATCH52-CRC-GRE
Costa Rica’s forward Joel Campbell celebrates at the end of the round of 16 football match between Costa Rica and Greece at Pernambuco Arena in Recife during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 29, 2014. RONALDO SCHEMIDT—AFP/Getty Images

“When you look at the skills needed for soccer, it’s speed and endurance. It’s not upper body power. It’s not the ability to tackle people, so you don’t need the shape of a body that an American football player would need,” says Geier.

Soccer players, unlike many American athletes, are muscular without being bulky. Basketball players and football players must build up their upper bodies for shooting, passing and pushing one another around. Hockey players must build up their legs for strength and speed on the ice. Soccer players have a much more even muscle distribution. They’re toned, but not in an exaggerated way.

Los Angeles Lakers v San Antonio Spurs - Game Two
Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2013 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on April 24, 2013 in San Antonio, Texas. Ronald Martinez—Getty Images

“There’s probably a perception difference when you have a seven-foot athlete compared to soccer players, who are pretty normal height—5’8″ to 6’2″,” says Geier. It’s easy to imagine your boyfriend running every day and slimming down than to imagine him growing an extra foot and pumping iron until his arm muscles swell to twice their size. That’s why many people find a body like Costa Rica soccer player Joel Campbell’s (in white shorts above), which has muscle evenly distributed across his 5’10” frame, more attractive than that of NBA player Dwight Howard (in Lakers jersey above), whose shoulder and upper arm muscles are intimidatingly large. Plus, Howard is 6’11″—a less relatable height.

3. Showing emotion on the field

FBL-WC-2014-MATCH52-CRC-GRE
Costa Rica’s defender Waylon Francis (L) and Costa Rica’s midfielder Jose Miguel Cubero celebrate after winning a match with Greece during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 29, 2014. ARIS MESSINIS—AFP/Getty Images

Soccer players are notoriously more emotional during play than other athletes—so much so that a recent article in the New Yorker examined why Americans are exasperated by soccer’s dramatics. Players flop down on the ground when hit and roll around as if they’ve just been shot in the gut. When they congratulate each other, they don’t just high five, they leap into one another’s arms, scream and weep. After scoring a goal, players will tear off their shirt and run in circles. A goalie who let in a shot will collapse to his knees and wail.

It turns out these seemingly overdramatic (one might even say feminine) gestures are arousing to the opposite sex. A 2011 study found that men are perceived to be more attractive by heterosexual women when they exhibit emotional displays of pride and shame. In the way a peacock spreads his tail, men strut after victory to seem more attractive.

“This could explain part of what’s going on with male soccer players,” says Jessica Tracy, an associate professor of psychology at British Columbia who led the study. “If they show pride displays after success, and even shame displays after failure, this will likely increase their attractiveness—at least to North American women.”

FBL-WC-2014-MATCH43-NGR-ARG
Argentina’s forward and captain Lionel Messi (L) celebrates with teammates Argentina’s midfielder Angel Di Maria (C) and Argentina’s defender Marcos Rojo (R) after scoring during a match between Nigeria and Argentina on June 25, 2014,during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. JEWEL SAMAD—AFP/Getty Images

Emotional displays also increase a player’s relatability. “I think you get a better sense of their personalities,” says Geier. “There’s no helmet or cap like in football or hockey or baseball. Seeing them react to what’s going on on the field—it helps fans forge a relationship that you might not get with an athlete in pads and a helmet.”

4. Uniforms—on and off

FBL-WC-2014-MATCH49-BRA-CHI
Chile’s forward Alexis Sanchez reacts after missing a shot on goal during a football match between Brazil and Chile at the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 28, 2014. ODD ANDERSEN—AFP/Getty Images

Let’s face it: soccer players like to show their abs. Even when they’re not tearing off their jerseys to celebrate a goal, soccer uniforms are more revealing than others. Hockey and football pads conceal most of the athlete’s body and head. Basketball uniforms are baggy, and baseball uniforms aren’t exactly the most flattering wear. Soccer jerseys better display abs, arms, legs and bottoms than gear in any other major sport, as demonstrated by the variety of BuzzFeed’s lists on the topic, which include “bootyful butts” and “match the six-pack to the soccer player.”

“Uniforms and clothes in general are used to enhance desirable features,” says Postma. “I did for example notice that the shirts [in soccer] have gotten tighter, showing off their muscular upper bodies much better.”

FBL-WC-2014-FRA-PRESSER
France’s forward Olivier Giroud addresses a press conference at the theater in Ribeirao Prato on June 10, 2014, prior to the start of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. FRANCK FIFE—AFP/Getty Images

The other reason there’s such a global obsession with soccer players is that there’s such a wide sample selection. The World Cup brings together hundreds of players from all over the world. Everyone has someone to root for—or ogle. Sheer variety has its appeal, and when there are that many men who spend all day, every day running, there’s bound to be at least a few players that capture the attention of the masses, like French forward Olivier Giroud (above), who tops many of the “hottest” lists.

And for Americans, who only see these players on ESPN once every four years and do not have as firm a grasp on the rosters, Postma believes that focusing on attractiveness might be “a way to make a sport that you otherwise don’t have much affinity with a bit more interesting.”

 

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