Required Reading: Toxic Masculinity and Trimming Down

Welcome to “Required Reading,” where BTRtoday writers share the best stories they didn’t write. The stories aren’t necessarily new. They’re just words that might our lives richer or were interesting, moving or simply enjoyable.

Adam Bulger

After eight weeks of exercise and counting calories, I’ve lost 10 pounds. I’m saying this first to brag but also to explain my interest in stories related to health and fitness this week.

“Never Take Fitness Advice From the New York Times”
In the long-lost glory days of Gawker circa 2011, Hamilton Nolan wrote a series of fitness columns. Nolan’s admirably direct prose and artfully blunt fitness advice stuck with me. Examples include this fitness media criticism piece’s argument that “the purpose of working out is get in shape. Not to get “thin.” Many of us, myself included, need to lose weight. But losing weight means ridding our bodies of fat. It doesn’t mean ridding our bodies of all mass indiscriminately to be lighter overall. We want to change our body composition, strengthen our hearts and circulation while gaining power, agility and endurance. You’ll get thinner if you eat well and put physical stress on your body. But that’s not the point.

“Why you shouldn’t exercise to lose weight, explained with 60+ studies.”
I thought of Nolan’s wonderful guiding principle when I stumbled onto this 2016 Vox article collating dozens of research studies showing that exercise alone can’t ward off weight gain.

Now, the takeaway here shouldn’t be that exercise is stupid or useless; exercise makes our bodies stronger, faster and better. The takeaway is that capitalism makes America so dangerously fat. As an illustration, the Obama White House focused on exercise instead of healthy eating in childhood obesity, efforts to avoid upsetting Coca-Cola and other sugary food and beverage companies and their lobbyists.

Elena Childers

Men Have No Friends and Women Bear The Burden
The headline sounds a little feisty and might make most men turn away. But this piece is actually very informative and supportive of men. It breaks down toxic masculinity, puts an emphasis on mental health and is a deep insight into society’s impossible standards created for both women and men. Honestly, maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but if everyone read this the world would be a better place.

Spongebob and the Seven Life Lessons He Taught a Generation
This is a great article because I truly believe I would not and none of my friends would not be the same person if it weren’t for growing up with Spongebob Squarepants. My friends and I practically only communicate with Spongebob references. This CNN Entertainment write up could’ve gotten even deeper into the philosophies of the show, but it’s still a great look into its life-changing brilliance and importance to a developing mind.

Joe Virgillito

Removing the Young Griff and Euron Storylines Has Crippled Game of Thrones (spoilers)
Like many GoT fans, I’ve been disappointed with the early returns of Season 8. Redditor MaxGarnaat1 posted this thread on Wednesday explaining how removing two key storylines from the books has doomed the show to questionable narratives and plot devices as it winds down. As someone who’s never read the A Song of Ice and Fire series, I found it fascinating (specifically in regards to Euron Greyjoy’s potential badassery). But it also left me a bit sad, wishful that the show could’ve come to a better, more thorough conclusion.

Teenage Pricks: Trumpism’s brand of boy power
I’m sharing Alex Pareene again this week because he’s that good of a writer and this is that good of a piece. He examines Trumpism’s appeal of recklessness for young white men through the lens of events that became media firestorms, namely the Kavanaugh hearings and Covington Catholic incident. “Trumpism’s pitch to young white men is thus a stirringly amoral sort of syllogism: we can’t give you anything material, because we stole it all and are hoarding it,” Pareene writes, “but we can create a world in which you can regularly act on your worst impulses and get away with it.