Men’s Health is the best-selling men’s lifestyle magazine in the world.
Millions of men worldwide subscribe to an extraordinary way of living – the Men’s Health way. Join them today and get the best out of your life… Men’s Health is the ultimate one-stop-shop for all things that matter to men…
Let’s take the most recent issue.
Nearly every issue of Men’s Health features a heavily muscled man on its cover. For August 2014 it’s Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson:
The assumption is that ‘men’s health’ is about looking like The Rock. There’s actually a feature on p36: ‘As solid as the rock’, complete with tips such as ’01: maintenance is for pussies’.
Because Men’s Health is not about how you feel, but how manly you look: the size of your biceps, percent body fat, six-pack visibility… The free book sold with the issue contains 47 recipes described as ‘FAST MUSCLE FOOD!’. Between adverts for watches, aftershaves and hair-loss foam, topless models are paid to pose for this kind of content:
Beside building the kind of leg muscle you’d normally find in an Olympic velodrome, this variation of the kettlebell deadlift works your lower back and torso in the highest gear. This means better core stability: not only will you have the balance to make the perfect beach-volleyball spike, there’s a chance the girl on the opposing team will be too hooked on your abs to notice.
[8-PACK ABS, NO EXCESS BAGGAGE, p19]
The only woman allowed her own voice in the magazine is ‘fashion comms manager’ and proud Brazilian Natalia Bojanic:
‘If you think women and weights don’t mix, you can think again. I’m always filled with pride when I’m squatting a bar that weighs more than the man next to me.’
[GO FULL BRAZILIAN ON YOUR CORE, p24]
Situated by a swim-suited picture (‘THE FITTEST WOMEN ON INSTAGRAM’), the bravado of Natalia’s statement heightens her sexual objectification rather than respect for weight-bearing women.
Because the editorial team at Men’s Health enjoy sexual objectification. Men may be shallow and conceited, but, MH reader, at least you are a man – AND NOT A WOMAN! Any superficiality on your part, any interest in the subject of ‘health’, may even be excused through your need to attract image-obsessed members of an inferior sex.
01: HELP HER EYES DECEIVE HER… Since Adam first donned a fig leaf, there are certain garments women have become genetically predisposed to desire. Make the most of them when selecting what to wear on date night. Win her subconscious approval with this wardrobe edit and she won’t even know why she’s falling for you.
[SEDUCTION OF THE FITTEST, p48]
Men’s Health is keen to appear scientific. The August issue we are told is ‘BROUGHT TO YOU BY… TOTAL 80 EXPERTS’. Men’s Health wants to convince you that you are not being conned but are getting ‘the most up-to-date and authoritative advice’ for fast results.
Good things come to those who wait, so they say. It’s a benign sentiment, but of no use to an MH reader. Tenacity and discernment are chief among your virtues; patience is a card game you stand to lose.
[NEVER TOO LATE TO BE GREAT (editor’s note), p13]
The magazine is packed with weird, unrounded numbers to provide the illusion of scientific rigour. Any opportunity is taken to magnify the numeric results of studies with minimal discussion of their context.
And then there’s the feature articles.
On the cover, we are told there’s ’29 WAYS TO A V-SHAPE BODY!’ and ‘ADD 9 YEARS TO YOUR LIFE’. This would be fine if there was any reason for such numbers, but there isn’t. There isn’t even a feature on getting a v-shaped body, and the ‘add 9 years to your life’ thing (p28?) refers to a section entitled ‘BREATHE EASY WITH CANNABIS… and 13 other surprising ways to cure your respiratory ills and lift your lung capacity.’ The contents section actually refers anyone interested in living ’9 years longer’ not to p28 but to p147: ‘Our summer survival guide to playing safe (without raining on your parade)’.
Good advice and research is available to the discerning reader, but Men’s Health is more about the promise of science than its actual practice.
Men’s Health has a global readership of over 35 million. Every month they are sold an idea of health based on image: largely about looking good in order to have sex with women.
Health is not unrelated to looks, but the obsessive superficiality of magazines like Men’s Health alongside its association of health with sexual achievement and poorly discussed science has surely contributed to the increasing use of steroids among image-conscious young men.
If you are looking for workout and meal ideas, great: the magazine provides useful tips and references interesting research. But for the most part Men’s Health is just bollocks. The same formula is used every month to produce a magazine which emphasises design over content and never pauses to ask what ‘health’ is really all about.