When looking and discovering what activities an eight year old boy take part in I came across that many boys play with action figures. These action figures are usually from their favorite TV shows or movies, allowing them to bring the character to life in their imagination. A common theme that came across in all the different kinds of action figures was that they all were covered with extremely large muscles. The boys playing with these toys may want to be like the “heroes” they are playing with both physically and character wise. The chances of any eight year old boy ever looking like the toys he plays with creates a unrealistic self image that cannot be reached causing the boys to become victims of our societies standards.
Even at an early age boys are exposed to what a man should look like according to society. Their toys show that men should have washboard abs, be valiant heroes over evil, be with beautiful women, and love their country. The quality of their toys that stands out the most is the physical aspect. Research done by Hesse-Biber shows that,”…20% to slightly over %50 are trying to “bulk up.” Many spend time in body work because they link body image to success in their peer group relationships with both genders” (195). This proves that boys want to look like the action figures they used to play with.
Katz states that, “Muscles are markers that separate men from each other and, most important perhaps, from women.” This shows that boys that have muscles like their toys are not like a girl which at a young age is the worst thing to be thought of for a boy. Katz also says, “The discourse around muscles as signifiers of masculine power involves not only working class men but also middle and upper class males” (356). The idea and influence of the idea of muscles equal masculinity and power is embedded in all races and classes. This is easily shown in the toys because many times the heroes are masked not showing their identity which allows for young boys to make them what they want them to be.
Hesse-Biber, Sharlene Nagy. The Cult of Thinness. 2nd Ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
Katz, Jackson. "Advertising and the Construction of Violent White Masculinity: From Eminem to Clinique for Men." Gender, Race, and Class in Media: a Text-reader. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2003. 349-58.