Cultural expectations of muscularity in men: the evolution of playgirl centerfolds

Int J Eat Disord. 2001 Jan;29(1):90-3. doi: 10.1002/1098-108x(200101)29:1<90::aid-eat15>;2-f.


Objective: We sought to assess whether cultural ideals of the male body, as illustrated by magazine models, have changed over the past 25 years.

Method: We examined 115 male centerfold models in Playgirl magazine from 1973 to 1997. Using the models' heights and weights quoted by the magazine, together with visual estimates of body fat, we calculated the body mass index (BMI) and fat-free mass index (FFMI) of each model.

Results: The Playgirl centerfold models became increasingly "dense" and more muscular over time, as indicated by the significant correlations between BMI, FFMI, and year of publication.

Discussion: These observations, in combination with previous studies, suggest that cultural norms of the ideal male body are growing increasingly muscular.

MeSH terms

  • Beauty
  • Body Constitution*
  • Body Image*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Gender Identity*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal*
  • Periodicals as Topic / trends*
  • Social Values