I think I'm pretty late to the party on this one, but reading some of the comments on the "Abs article" has got me a little irate about all the "men's tears" over the fact that - oh my god - there has appeared one standard (ONE!!) for *some* male actors. So can we please inject some realism into this discussion please?
It's still a niche and there remains plenty of room for older actors.
Let's be honest. Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen are NOT going to be turned down job offers because they don't have six pack abs, and - assuming they still want to work in the film industry for a while longer - they will still be actively offered roles in major productions. I don't know if he is still accepting job offers, but Sir Michael Caine seemed to be popping up everywhere for a time - Batman, the Prestige, etc. Compare that to an actress of similar calibre - Dame Judi Dench. The only major production she has been in recently that I can think of has been 007, and even then just as a side character.
Likewise, this is not some standard that even the majority of actors are being held to: Leo Dicaprio? Ed Helms? Zach Galifianakis? Jonah Hill? Joseph Gordon Levitt? I could go on for a long time here guys.
A lot of it is FOR THE GUYS and is relevant in context.
Think about the type of film where men tend to be ripped. I'm open to correction here, but from my perspective....they tend to be films which are marketed towards men. Gladiator. 300. Fuck it - X men? Also, I will believe that GOT is marketed at a neutral gender audience the day that they stop showing SO MANY FUCKING NAKED WOMEN and show a fully naked man.
What kind of roles are the actors playing in this? Well - fighters of some sort generally - especially in the examples above. What do fighters tend to do? Tough question. Train fucking hard I should imagine. Their bodies make sense *in the context of the film*.
Meanwhile, what do female bodies look like in the same sort of roles? I can only think of one film that really shows a woman physically training when she is supposed to be super strong - the awful awful film Elektra with Jennifer Garner. Oh wait! There is one more I can think of. Million Dollar Baby. Okay, now I'm out of ideas of women in strong roles with matching bodies. The rest of the time it appears to follow that glorious Hollywood formula - THIN. PROBABLY TITS. Not slim but strong, not muscular, just THIN. Think Michelle Pfeiffer as catwoman. Or any of the women in X men.
Meanwhile portrayal of men in films marketed towards women - TWASTD has already done a post illustrating the "hot girl dates average looking guy/goofball" equation which is so often used. Jesus - Adam Sandler? Vince Vaughn? Ben Stiller?
In summary, if guys want to watch films about men swinging swords around, or fighting crime or whatever, then don't get pissy when the actors bodies reflect that role.
IT IS MORE FUCKING ATTAINABLE
So let's see - the "ideal" body being portrayed for men. Sure, getting up to the absolute identical standard is going to be out of reach for most people due to the time involved. But let's think about it in terms of just having decent muscular definition. What does this involve? It involves exercise. Well, everyone is meant to exercise. It involves weight training. Again, weight training is excellent for bone health. It involves EATING. Quite a lot actually. You cannot build muscle if you don't eat. Period. It involves working with your own body to build muscle. There are ripped actors with all sorts of body dimensions. From Hulk-esque, to slim with muscle definition. All seem to be equally accepted. I am not saying that it is EASY. It takes time and dedication. But it is POSSIBLE. And more than that, it is possible whilst improving your lifestyle.
Now let's see the ideal body for women according to films. Well shit, here we are. Fucked. We pretty much have two options: huge rack, big YET TONED arse, flat stomach and tiny waist. OR incredibly thin (still with substantial tits!) with an equal proportion between bust and hips. With my body type, if I take UNHEALTHY decisions (ensuring I have a near constant calorie deficit) I could certainly get slim enough for media standards (my genes predispose me to the slimmer side), but there's no exercise routine in the world that's going to make my chest proportionately grow as I lose weight. Likewise, my hips are always going to be bigger than my bust. Because they are bones. The alternative (huge bust, big arse, tiny waist) - I would be more capable of sprouting wings and flying to the moon on a unicycle. Unless I had extensive surgery.
SO MEN. Please don't come crying to women because all of a sudden actors are showing a time consuming BUT ULTIMATELY ATTAINABLE body type, which makes sense in the context of the film. WE DON'T HAVE THAT FUCKING LUXURY.
When Hollywood is pushing a body ideal that requires starving yourself, or surgery, or basically driving your health into the fiery pits of hell - for no reason of context other than the fact they like it - THEN we can talk.