Also heard a paper on Eugene Sandow, the so-called father of modern body-building:

Prior to Sandow, a male body with extreme musculature, when not viewed as pathological, was closely associated with a life devoted to physical labor, hence not for the white middle-class man sitting at his desk all day long. Sandow revolutionized the male image in the late 19C by appealing to ideals of self-discipline. An accountant could apply his sense of concentration to weight-lifting in the same way that he might tabulate a complex set of numerical figures. Early body-building was thus linked to mental prowess. Muscles would literally originate in the mind. Moreover the office worker could turn to Sandow's methods to overcome the emasculation that he felt in contrast to the bodies of other men whose physical labor made them leaner and more robust. Sandow made a fortune by endorsing a whole line of exercise products.

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Blogger Jessica Smith said ... (8:36 PM) : 

is this why the male bodies in older movies, like cary grant's body in north by northwest, are kind of flaccid? it wasn't cool yet to have muscles if you were a white upper-class dude? was the lack of musculature considered sexy, like pale skin used to be in women?


Blogger -k said ... (7:22 AM) : 

I think so, even though Sandow came way earlier. In midcentury film, Susan Bordo points to the shift that happened with Brando in Streetcar Named Desire. She says his "animal" nature precipitated the reaction against respectability in the 60s.


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