People's Sexiest Man Alive contest creates negative male body standards

On November 15, 2021

Photo Courtesy of Gage Skidmore, Flickr

From Sean Connery, to Jude Law, to Paul Rudd, People Magazine has been awarding the “Sexiest Man Alive” title to the celebrity of their choosing since 1985, with “Lethal Weapon” star Mel Gibson as their inaugural winner in 1985.

At first, the contest was seen as a simple ode to male heartthrobs across the globe. However, in today’s day and age, could the annual appointment actually be dangerous to men and their self-esteem?

Personally, seeing male celebrities on the cover of People Magazine every year takes a toll on how I perceive myself from a physical standpoint. Looks are not everything, but it’s hard to suppress them when they’re typically the focal point in this “contest.”

“Of course it’s mentally damaging,” said Dan Dehnert, a junior business major. “They’re trying to pinpoint a ‘perfect image’ of what a male should look like, and with so many different looking people out there, it’s clearly wrong. Everyone has their own look.”

People has received backlash in the past, with writers like Ella Cerón of Allure reacting to Blake Shelton’s title of “Sexiest Man Alive” in 2017 with “The point is that what people find ‘sexy’ is entirely personal.” As hinted before, I agree with Cerón that the title should come to an end. But, not everyone that I spoke to does.

“It’s human nature to think people are attractive,” said Brad Kessler, a sophomore business major. “And I think it’s human nature to be competitive and ask ‘who’s more attractive than who?’ and then decide.” Does the idea of being sexually attractive on our magazine covers only increase the competitiveness in American males?

One solution could be to have multiple men from all different kinds of backgrounds grace the cover and increase the diversity. Instead of having one sexiest man alive, splitting the title among multiple men.

As of 2021, only five non-white men have been given the title in 36 years; Denzel Washington (1996), Dwayne Johnson (2016), Idris Elba (2018), John Legend (2019) and Michael B. Jordan (2020). This “competition” is not as diverse as it could be, and while the subcategories often show a more diverse group of men, the singular title of “sexiest man alive” is lacking in diversity.

If this does not happen, in my opinion, the only other solution would be for the sexiest man alive competition to be discontinued. Without an increase in diversity, there does not seem for there to be a way to better this contest.

People Magazine should either split the title of sexiest man alive among multiple people or discontinue the contest completely. Though certain people may favor the competition and others enjoy the eye candy, the contest has lasted long enough, and it’s worth disbanding it for the sake of men everywhere to increase their self-confidence.


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