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Friday, August 23, 2013

The Bell Curve of Beefy

This summer's season of The Bachelorette ended recently in a flurry of rose petals and tears and bad poetry, so now my Monday nights and my life feel empty and meaningless. (Just kidding. Only my Monday nights.)
Anyway, my froomie Bekah texted a couple of days ago and reminded me that I never posted the promised Bachelorette-inspired post, so here it is. Better late than never, right?

One of the reasons I love the Bachelor franchise is that these shows are like one big ethnographic study. I'm fascinated by the interactions, by the drama, by all the feels the contestants express.

This season, however, I'm seriously tired of seeing abs. And pecs. And huge necks. These guys are either spending way too long in the gym or they're 'roiding big time. Or both.

It is for this reason that I feel the need to explain what I like to call the Bell Curve of Beefy.

This bell curve basically posits that bulking up — pumping iron, getting cut, what have you — will only make you more attractive to a certain point. Pass this point, and it will begin to have the opposite effect. Bulk up too much, and you will look like a meathead. 

Allow me to illustrate the curve with Disney characters:

(I'm pretty sure bell curves are usually for averages, but if the graph fits...)

I first became aware of the principle behind this graph while using the ridiculous rec center at Mizzou. The main weight room there is always full of brawny boys in basketball shorts and cut-off tank tops. The room is thick with the scent of sweat and Axe and protein shakes, and it's walled in glass, which gives outsiders the opportunity to observe the gymrat species in its natural habitat.

Whenever I passed by, I found myself most intrigued by the neck machine. Every time I saw a boy strengthening his neck, I wanted to rap on the glass and ask, "Um, excuse me, are you doing that for me?"

And by "me," I would mean the girls.

Are you boys thickening your necks for us? Or for each other? Because I promise you, I PROMISE YOU, girls do not mind the natural circumference of your neck. You can leave it the way it is.

Is there another, non-appearance-related reason to work out your neck? If so, enlighten me. Please. What do you need to lift with your neck besides your own head?

Maybe your motivation to work out has nothing to do with impressing girls. By all means then, disregard my commentary. Maybe you're bulking up so that you can — I don't know — perform various heroic feats. Or maybe you just like being cut for your own sake. In that case, go for it.

But in case you are working out for us, allow me to provide you with a brief list of things women are more concerned with than your neck/lats/abs/pecs/biceps:

  • Whether you're nice to your mom
  • What you're reading
  • Your work ethic

I know you're not getting this stuff from GQ and Men's Health.

(I actually just Googled "Men's Health cover," and now I am being blown away by their headlines: "17 DAY ABS," "GOLD MEDAL ABS," "SHRED YOUR ABS!" I am genuinely sorry that the media are bombarding you with faulty information about what you need to be. Now I want to start an entire blog series debunking Men's Health articles about "What Women Want!" Hint: It's not your 8-pack abs.)

I'm not saying guys should quit working out altogether. I'm just saying let's find the happy medium, people. The Gaston look isn't good on anybody.


♫ No one's slick as Gaston / No one's quick as Gaston
No one's neck's as incredibly thick as Gaston ♪


9 comments:

  1. HAHAHA! Amen. James looks nearly obese...and if you're going for that look just enjoy life and eat cake- don't work out. I'm posting this to facebook.

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  2. Observations:

    1. Never realized until now that Gaston is the archetypal bro! (Brochetype)

    2. Exhibits C and D are guilty of what we call "skipping leg day."

    3. Can we start a spin-off of Men's Health called Neck Health that's always saying things like, "Kiss that scrawny neck goodbye!" and "50 tips to blast your neck"?

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  3. This was awesome! The only graph I've ever understood :) Also, Jack's three observations are fantastic. Can you do another bell curve of Marvel/DC heroes, please? Like, where does Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale, Hemsworth, etc fall in?

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  4. lol-ing about the neck machine. i didn't even know that was a thing!

    also in my magazine editing class we learned that "abs" is like... the #1 word to sell magazine covers, haha. (that might not have been the exact stat, but we definitely talked about "abs" being on every magazine.)

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  5. Marie-Claire DeJarnettAugust 28, 2013 at 2:52 PM

    This rules.

    I loved that the Baylor gym required sleeves to be able to work out. Also everyone called the free weight area the Testosterone Pit and I don't think I ever ventured down there.

    Also John Smith is totally the hottest Disney Guy.

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  6. Your bell curve of disney characters is fantastic. Also, I now have Beauty and the Beast songs stuck in my head...it has always been my favorite disney princess movie.

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  7. This is so good, Kate! Spot on!

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  8. I agree about John Smith, apart for those three chinese comic relief characters in mulan.

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