August 23rd, 2008

Phelps Critiqued by Fashion Editor

The cover of Sports Illustrated features Michael Phelps decked out in all the gold medals he won this year. The fashion editor of the Washington Post doesn't like the photo much.
He has the lean physique of elite swimmers. But it is not the kind of pumped up, six-pack Hollywood torso typically found on the cover of Men's Fitness and that has come to define today's sexy man. Aesthetically, it's a 1970s torso, not a 2008 one.
Ann Althouse responds:
As long as we're developing our understanding, why don't we look at those Men's Fitness models and rethink whether they represent power? Their muscles come not from doing something admirable and powerful, but from doing what they've figured out will make them look like that. Shouldn't function underlie power?
I've always thought "fitness" was used oddly. I have people tell me I must be fit when they hear about some race I ran. Right - I'm fit for doing that particular thing. But there are other things I wouldn't be fit for - like a rope climbing contest. Doesn't "fit" mean "fit for something specific?" Isn't "survival of the fittest" about fitness within a particular niche?

As for the guys on Men's Fitness magazine, I guess they have high fitness within the Attractiveness Niche.

It's one thing to be highly active,
another to be attractive.