When we talk about Hollywood's unrealistic beauty standards, we're usually talking about women. And with good reason — it's actresses who get relegated to mom roles at 35. But guys in Hollywood have standards to live up to also — and apparently they're using human growth hormone to do so.
Ned Zeman of Vanity Fair investigates the Hollywood HGH scene and finds actors, directors, and producers injecting the drug for reasons including the following: "little blotchy patches," "weird saggy stuff," declining sex drive, and "man tits" (the first two appear opposite a full-page ad of Brian Williams, which is a little funny). And they claim benefits including increased strength, glowing skin, better mood, bigger muscles, nonspecific improvement to the "internal organs," and "a sense of clarity and confidence." This despite the fact that many endocrinologists say it doesn't do shit, and might even cause cancer and heart disease. They say unscrupulous doctors are getting rich by selling guys a product that's ineffective and possibly harmful, just by promising it will make them look and feel young.
Of course, people have been getting rich by selling youth to women forever. But what's really interesting about Zeman's article is how different selling it to men looks. For one thing, even for actors, admitting vanity is clearly sort of frowned on — one guy who talks to Zeman anonymously emphasizes that he's not "one of those actors," and that "he'd tattoo PATHETIC on his forehead before he'd let some shiny plastics guy cut his face open, or shoot it full of goo, or do any sort of 'work.'" Because wanting to look attractive is effeminate and lame. But HGH appears to cater to a particularly masculine aesthetic. It makes you muscular, energetic, sexually potent. It (allegedly) makes you young, but not like a dewy, nubile maiden — more like a powerful stallion.
Which isn't to say women don't take it — the only person willing to go on record for Zeman is a lady. But its purported benefits seem calibrated to speak to the only kind of male vanity that's socially acceptable: the desire to be strong and virile. Guys in Hollywood have to live up to higher expectations in these areas than average joes, but Hollywood trends often trickle down to the masses. HGH has already achieved some mainstream popularity, and barring a major side-effects scandal, I'd expect more. Now that somebody's figured out how to make freaking out about aging seem manly, they're not going to stop anytime soon.
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