My son wants to look like Zac Efron



Zac Efron, you are making my parenting job difficult.

After watching you rip your shirt open on the MTV movie awards to reveal your amazing six pack abs,  my 13-year-old son has become obsessed with working out.

While it’s certainly good to be in shape, I’m concerned. Exercise is good. Obsession with body image is not.

As soon my son he returns from the small gym in our neighborhood, he asks me to feel his muscle. Ugh. What’s coming next? Will he ask me to buy him muscle shirts?

Maybe if Zac Efron didn’t get a crazy amount of media coverage every time he went shirtless, my son would think it’s okay to be fit without being ripped.

Anyone who thinks body image is just a teen girl issue doesn’t have a son. As one recent article I read pointed out: The terms ‘fat’ and ‘thin’ are not just descriptors of weight and size, they become descriptors of character. “A boy who is skinny is associated with being weak or small or maybe they are teased and called a ‘girl.’ A boy who is fat is associated with being lazy or unsuccessful.”

For some boys the obsession with bulking up has them turning to steroids, protein powders and all kinds of muscle-enhancing concoctions. Last night when my son came home from the gym, I talked to him about using exercise as a way to relieve stress and stay fit and warned him against getting preoccupied with muscles.

Of course, what teen boy listens to mom when bare-chested men with impossibly chiseled physique are they guys in the movies and on television scoring with the ladies?

So Zac Efron, please put your shift back on and use your personality to charm the ladies. It might not get you as much attention but it might help our sons realize they have more to offer than six-pack abs.

Parents, have you noticed boys becoming more obsessed with body image? How have you handled talking to your son about it?


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  1. 8th grade class of 2015 May 12, 2015 at 10:13 am

    We are an 8th grade language arts class learning about blogging. We are working on writing high quality comments to blog posts, and your blog caught our eye. Being teenagers, we understand how hard it can be to parent us. After reading your post, two things stood out to us. We realize that you’re struggling with how to help your son, and we had some ideas that might help. First, we think that teen boys can really benefit from a male role model in their life. This could be in the form of a father, uncle, coach, older brother or family friend. While a mother’s advice is from the heart and valuable, some guys are more open to hearing it from another guy. You could try to have a male role model engage in conversation with your son. This will only work, however, if the teen already has a strong relationship with this person. What the male role model has to say must come from him. It has to be an authentic conversation, not artificially planned ahead of time.

    In addition, it’s healthy for teenagers to be exploring new interests, however it is important to find the balance between supporting their exploration while guiding them in a safe way. As teens, many of us prefer you to come to us calmly and with an understanding approach. We like it when parents start the conversation with the critical points that they are concerned about. When our parents end with positive support, it is easier for our teenage brains to keep an open mind, which prevents us from getting immediately hostile or tuning you out. We are like squirrels in a park. You don’t want us to bolt.

    If our ideas don’t feel like they will work for your situation, we recently came across another blog post on parenting teens that we think offers accurate advice for parenting teens.

  2. Second 8th grade class of 2015 May 14, 2015 at 10:04 am

    We are a class of 8th graders working on a blogging unit. Your post caught our attention because most of the guys in our class agree that this is a real issue.

    At the end of your post, you asked if other parents had any ideas on how to handle this situation. As a group of teens your son’s age, we had an idea. Some teen boys receive advice better from someone that they know and trust besides a parent. Others are influenced by the advice of someone they look up to regardless of how well they know them. If you really want to get through to a teenager, try to have the message come from someone like a coach or a trainer in his gym. Setting him up with a trainer at his gym would ensure that he goes about his workouts in a healthy way while helping him achieve his specific goals. He may be more receptive to learning about proper form and safety from a personal trainer.

    As a final tip, we know that we are turned off by a condescending tone and we prefer for our parents to have a conversation with us rather than talking at us. You could ask him what he thinks about the idea of getting a trainer.

  3. Randomguyontheweb March 13, 2016 at 2:09 am

    I’m sorry but may I be a bit rude?
    Every little kid who finds out about the magic of working out becomes “obsessed” with showing off every little progress, and that applies to almost anything in life, from puzzle solving, riding bike/skateboard, to even video games… kids are amazed by their success, while you get joy from achieving things, a boy is overwhelmed by that joy.
    My rudeness comes in as I’m going to point out that I think it’s very stupid of you to have a problem with it… yeah, being superficial is bad, but him working out gives results, doesn’t matter the “why” he does it, it matters if he does or not. learning to be respectful and not judge people by their appearance is something he’ll have to learn regardless of that… but working out in the mean while, regardless the reason, will give him healthy body, and determination to sharpen it.
    And yeah, I’m going to say something else, that is probably going to piss off most the people who read this, but… people make millions because they are good looking… let’s put the cards on the table and stop the bullshit okay? your son will have a much better life being good looking, be it in highschool where everyone is halfassed, and be it even in adulthood. sad? yes… bad? probably.. but true?? you feeling me?
    Either way, as a parent you need to look at the end results, he will have to learn to value people from the inside, regardless if he’s in shape or out of shape.
    Another thing that I believe in that may piss people off, is that working out, actually indicates a person intellectual level… YEAH, it’s actually a personality indicator more to me than physical “sexiness stuff things”, have you even seen a monkey workout, out of his own will, for the sole reason of getting in shape? NO! you know why not? cause he lacks the intellectual development to understand ACTION = RESULTS, all he sees is instincts and “this hurts me now, I’m tired, I don’t want to do”, I think humans who want to call themselves humans, should have a tiny bit more intellectual capacity than that. hence working out is actually impressing me personality wise, far more than “sexy body blah blah” stuff.

    Anyways my opinion is as long as he trains in healthy manners, pushing himself will only be beneficial in the end, be it mentally (learning to push through the tough to get what he wants), be it socially, or be it physically. just don’t let it get to his head, big head always explodes in the end.
    Have a nice day!


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