Male bodies with rippling muscles and abs are being increasingly glorified by the mass media. Does such objectification send youngsters running to gyms or fretting before mirrors? Not really.
A new study from Concordia and Manitoba Universities found that most boys simply want an average build.
"Not all boys aspire to have lean, muscular or idealised male bodies that are commonplace in popular culture," says Moss E. Norman, who led the study at Concordia's Simone de Beauvoir Institute, the journal Men and Masculinities reports.
"In many cases, boys who took part in our study were staunchly critical of idealised male images," Norman adds, according to a Concordia statement.
"They found it problematic, feminine or vain to be overly concerned with appearances. Sculpted bodies were seen as unnatural, the product of steroids or zealous weight-lifting," adds Morman.
A group of boys, aged 13-15 years, participated in the study, which lasted nine months and included four in-depth interviews and 19 focus groups.
"One of the surprises from this study was how comfortable boys were in expressing, analysing and comparing bodies - their own, their peers' and those ideals depicted by media," says Norman, now a professor in kinesiology at Manitoba University.
"Although they felt pressure to be fit, they displayed a distant, disinterested and cool relationship to their bodies," he adds.