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Unexpected side Benefit. Wednesday June 3, 2015

It's a marketing strategy, pure and simple. Like or not, we judge a book by its cover. So – if you're selling romantic fiction to women, it makes sense to put a handsome couple on that book cover.

Hang on – ninety percent of the people reading romantic fiction are women: so forget the couple, just put the man on. Make sure he's got muscles. Ah, and now lose that shirt...

When I started writing my first novel, about this time last year, I didn't know all this. I didn't know that there was a whole industry behind book covers or that male fitness models (the handsome, muscled young men without shirts), eagerly sought out authors, anxious to appear on the cover of their next book.

In discovering all this I have, somewhat to my bemusement and the consternation of my husband and daughters, become friendly with a number of these young men. It has been a chore: I freely admit it. I mean, we're talking shoulders like boulders, pectorals like slabs of concrete, abs that ripple like sand after the tide has retreated, inch by inch; reluctant to leave as from the bed of a lover...

... Ah, please, none of you need to worry about the state of either my morals or my marriage.

You see, these beautiful people are just ordinary people too. These beautiful people suffer from low self-esteem (often the reason they start working out in the first place), with their love-lives, with the sheer exhaustion of keeping up the gruelling routine it takes to keep their bodies in that photo-shoot readiness.

It takes four hours of gym time every day, come rain or shine, storm or snow. It takes a diet composed almost entirely of lean meat, fish, and green vegetables – oh and additional protein shakes. It takes travel, usually at their own expense, to the photographers who can get their image out to the people who can use that image. The people who pay peanuts to use that image. For some of them it takes keeping this side of their life a dark secret from the people they work with. For some, they juggle all this with a demanding professional job too.

So I've ended up with nothing but admiration for their dedication, respect for their determination, and near awe for the talents of the photographers who make the most of their beauty.

I've not yet dared ask one of them just why they bother. But I will, one day.

I'm really interested to know what he'll say.

A Moodscope member.

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The Entertrainer Wed, Jun 3rd 2015 @ 4:56am

"Guilty Secrets" and "Guilty Pleasures" - but what would the third title in the series be? Mary, Dearest, I've just clicked on a '3' for inspired on my Moodscope score... and I nearly got 69 (which being a puerile male with maturity-dysfunction-disorder still gives me a titter... as does writing 'titter' tee hee).

Seriously, there is a lovely lad at Lady P's workplace [Lady P looks after me], who has been working out for years and I just wondered if I could be a blessing in his life from what you wrote - a sensitive photographer? You are an inspiration. L'xx

Hopeful One Wed, Jun 3rd 2015 @ 8:11am

Hi Mary- Thanks for a highly entertaining blog. I must look up the psychology of this pursuit.I guess it is some kind of body image disorder. Any way guys who pursue that appearance are apparently called spornosexual a name coined by the same journalist who coined metrosexual.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Wed, Jun 3rd 2015 @ 10:16am

Dear Hopeful One, There seem to be all sorts of reasons for pursuing this body beautiful. While, yes one of my friends freely admits he has dysmorphia, there are also men who seem to live a balanced life, often with a wife and family and who just enjoy working out and see the modelling as something they do for fun. These are the guys who don't take it too seriously and who also try to add something to the world with what they're doing. The point of this blog was to make us realise that the people with beautiful bodies work hard to get and keep them that way and that also they battle with the same issues we all have. In view of the news today about eating disorders and how doctors are blaming images seen on Social Media for the rise in this problem, I feel that this blog is well timed.

Anonymous Wed, Jun 3rd 2015 @ 11:15am

Hi Mary, I'm quite fascinated by your blog. There would be a time when it was well financially rewarded but now we have huge caverns of online banks of images, as well as 'snappers' with decent computer packages marketing themselves as photographers, it must surely be putting a huge financial/business strain on all parties! I'd like to think it was for pure enjoyment, a boost to self. It takes a strong person with a thick skin to go through all that. (I'm very strong with a thick skin if you need help in viewing. I fear I've just out-letched myself.)
And laughing at Lex this morning! Love ratg x.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Wed, Jun 3rd 2015 @ 3:00pm

My very dear RATG, I do feel your help would be appreciated in fully appreciating these chaps. I will send you some images straight away!

Hopeful One Wed, Jun 3rd 2015 @ 7:49pm

Hi Mary- yes your point taken. For me I suppose the cut off point would be when that have to resort to chemical aids like steroids to achieve their body beautiful .

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