Alex Brooker: My Perfect Body saw the Last Leg co-host begin a long-awaited mission to lose weight, and discover how modern men feel about their own bodies.
Alex was self-conscious about his weight, and he’s not alone: men nowadays feel a tremendous amount of pressure to conform to the images they see of celebrities, in magazines like Men’s Fitness and porn. Dr Phillippa Diedrichs spoke in the programme about the research which her and her team conducted, which showed that 70% of men aged 18-87 are unhappy with their bodies, while around half of teenagers would like to be more muscular. I’ll write more about how teenage boys see their bodies in a little while, but those results are quite shocking and were the basis for the documentary, along with Alex’s personal weight battle, which saw him go from 14 stone (obese) to just over 12 stone (overweight/obese border).
‘A VERY INTERESTING INSIGHT’
Alex is brilliant on The Last Leg but My Perfect Body wasn’t all about jokes or the ‘selfies’ in his pants. It was actually a very interesting insight into the growing obsession with male body image.
A lot of Alex’s findings were surprising – but not in a good way. Dr Diedrich’s research was only the tip of the iceberg as the presenter’s hairdresser, Tom, revealed that he began considering plastic surgery when he was just 12. That’s sad, to me. Of course, My Perfect Body showed both sides of weight loss – the positives and negatives – but it was mainly the negatives which resonated. The images of surgery being performed repulsed me, and hopefully many others to. The darker side of the search for the ideal physique was shown best when Alex found images of teenage boys with eating disorders on so-called ‘Thinsperation’ websites. Images of their rib cages poking through their skin and messages like ‘Lose weight!’ and ‘fat fat fat fat fat fat fat’ were accompanied by a little table of what would happen ‘if I lose weight’ and ‘If I don’t lose weight’. The contents of this was disturbing – ‘be light as a feather, beautiful’ was a positive of becoming skinny while having ‘no bones to show off’ was apparently a negative of staying ‘fat’. Surely that’s the other way around? Being light as a feather isn’t beautiful! Well, it might be to some people but to most it isn’t, is it? And as for having ‘no bones to show off’, I don’t want to see someone’s skin exposing their skeletal frame! Not being stick thin? That is beautiful. It’s just so sad that those people don’t realise it, or are convincing themselves otherwise.
One of the most intriguing aspects of My Perfect Body for me was the brief look at how teenage boys view their bodies. Alex spoke to his sixteen-year-old brother, Elliot, and his friends, to find out why they regularly go to the gym together and are in search of the perfect body. The responses ranged from doing it to ‘look good’ and ‘be healthy’ to simply trying to impress girls. And I can sympathise with that. Not the impressing girls bit – that ship sailed a long time ago – but trying to look and be healthy.
I know I shouldn’t be but I am quite self-conscious about my weight. I mean I’m not so obsessive that I’d allow myself to develop an eating disorder or go under the knife but I like to keep an eye on it. Actually, I don’t even think I’m fat, to be honest – I just can’t shake the notion that I could be slimmer. I’m not even interested in being muscular. The problem is, however – and I think this may have been Alex’s problem, too – I don’t really try. I always do that thing of, ‘Oh I’ll start on Monday’ – but I seldom do. I make plans to not snack, drink so many bottles of water a day, and so on, but I often go off track. The other week, for example, I read that Jimmy Carr lost weight simply by not eating after six o’clock at night. Easy!, I thought. That lasted for a week. And I didn’t even lose anything! I was soon back to having a couple of Jaffa Cakes here, the odd Penguin biscuit there. I have little will power.
I’ll start again on Monday.
Alex Brooker: My Perfect Body was a brilliant documentary. I knew men were becoming more conscious about their bodies but it really opened my eyes to what extent that’s so. Not that that’s a bad thing, though: I believe it’s great that men are paying more attention to their appearance and health, and it doesn’t lessen their masculinity at all in my opinion. Just as long as they’re sensible. Alex may have tried the very extreme maple syrup diet – made famous by Mrs Carter herself – but ultimately he shed the pounds by simply exercising and cutting down on booze and fatty foods. It showed everyone – regardless of gender – that it is possible to lose weight in quite a short space of time without going to drastic measures.
Images courtesy of Channel 4. © Mentorn Media
Alex can be seen on The Last Leg, alongside Adam Hills and Josh Widdicombe, on Wednesdays at 10:00pm on Channel 4
What did you think of Alex Brooker: My Perfect Body? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Please comment below or tweet me – @UKTVReviewer.
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