It used to be that women were the only victims of society’s obsession with physical perfection, but in the spirit of equality, men too have been increasingly bombarded with images of masculine beauty. For gay men, particularly, body image has always been a source of constant concern, shame, pride, anger, dysmorphia and a host of other emotions tied almost exclusively to sexual identity. But what does the “average,” everyday man actually look like?
Graphic artist Nikolay Lamm set out to answer that question with his Body Measurement Project. Using the average waist, height, and body mass index (BMI) measurements of the average middle-aged male, Lamm digitally rendered 3D models of the average American, Japanese, Dutch and French man.
And the Dutch are winning everything.
The average American male between the ages of 30 and 39 is 5’9″, has a 39-inch waist and a body mass index of 29 — to put that in perspective, anything above 25 is considered overweight and above 30 is considered obese. The Dutch are generally taller — averaging 6-ft — thanks in part to their exquisite prenatal and early childhood care, and they have a slightly more slender 36-inch waist with a BMI of 25.2.
Japan is keeping it snatch with the lowest BMI at 23.7 and a 32-inch waist. As a result of their diets and lifestyles, the Japanese also tend to live longer, healthier lives. Meanwhile, France seems to be getting fatter by the minute by following America’s “anywhere at anytime” eating schedule — the average Frenchman has a 36-inch waist and a 25.55 BMI.
Of course, BMI doesn’t directly measure body fat, according to the CDC: “some people, such as athletes, may have a BMI that identifies them as overweight even though they do not have excess body fat.”
Research and walking down the street shows that gay men tend to be in better shape than their heterosexual counterparts and take care of themselves better as they get older — youth and beauty are fleeting but a gym membership is for life — so it would be interesting to see a similar study of the “average” gay male body. Do you think the results would be much different?
USA v. Japan