Shirtless In Abercrombie

Jim Burroway

October 19th, 2007

I normally don’t post stuff like this, but what the heck; it’s the weekend. There has been a lot of commentary over the past several years on the negative effects that impossibly beautiful models have on women’s body image in connection with the rise of anorexia and bulimia. This problem is also emerging among some gay men as well. The clothing store Abercrombie & Fitch has provided plenty of images of male perfection, so much so that it has become an often controversial icon in discussions of body images.

The New York group ImproveEverywhere staged an event which brilliantly contrasts the idealization of the utterly perfect, fat-free and blemish-free male figure with the much more common reality. By sending 111 shirtless guys into a New York Abercrombie store, “the rest of us” get to celebrate a healthy dose of that reality. ImproveEverywhere’s full report can be found here but here are two clips of highlight reels:

111 Shirtless Guys



October 19th, 2007

I love Improveverywhere! They are so cool!

Erika Shira

October 19th, 2007

Thanks for posting on this important issue — much needed!

Looking Queer is a great anthology about body image in the various queer communities. I thought it was really intriguing to read all the different takes on body image, from people all over the spectrum in terms of to what extent they aspired to be just like the societal ideals of a perfect masculine or feminine body.

It’s also really intriguing to hear the stories of folks (queer and not…) who have eating disorders that about things entirely unrelated to looking a certain way or being influenced by media portrayals. There’s one particular essay in Looking Queer that really spoke to me, in which a lesbian-identified female with an eating disorder talks about feeling shut out from both sides; she describes how the eating disorder literature and support networks are focused on women whose eating disorders are tied into looking like a model and competing with other (straight and/or femme) women, which she feels isn’t really what her eating disorder is about. Yet on the other side of this, she lives with a bunch of body-positive feminists who send her the message that she should be somehow “above” having an eating disorder, as if they’re equating all eating disorders with being the same thing as the dieting behavior seen in females who believe that all females need to be thin and passive and all that. The book also talks about the experiences of gay males dealing with body image issues all over the spectrum, as well as trans and gender nonconforming folks. It’s one of the only things I’ve found that really addresses eating disorders in queer folks this dynamically. There’s hardly any clinical literature though, unfortunately. Anyone else have any good reads on the topic?


October 19th, 2007

The woman interviewer at the very end of the first clip certainly added an ironic twist to gender/image issues –
asking ‘were they at least good-looking?’.

Sound like it isn’t just men who judge people by their bodies.

David B.

October 20th, 2007

I wish L.A. had an area with as dense a populous as Manhattan where something like this would be feasible. I sure wish I was there – what a blast!

David B.


October 22nd, 2007

that Abercrombie & Fitch store always has tourist moms and daughters giggling at the shirtless male models at the entrance…they probably were giggling a bit less with these guys!

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