If you hang around any online fitness forums, I don't have to tell you that your average 17 year old boy is completely convinced that all that stands between him and success with the ladiez is obtaining rippling ab muscles. I often want to advise these misguided children that charm and personality will get them laid more--a lot more--than that six pack they crave (after all charm can totally be deployed in situations where it's impossible to go shirtless). I'd like to suggest they work on developing conversational skills and a twinkle in their eyes, rather than hanging legs raises. But I'm not their wise old auntie Andrea and kids don't listen anyway.
My same-age friends and I occasionally wonder amongst ourselves when having a six pack became a "thing". It seems like, much like pubic hair removal or pedicures, it went from being something that no one ever thought much about to something almost mandatory overnight. The other day I postulated that no one in the 70s and early 80s had abs and told my audience to go look it up. But because I don't trust anyone to do so, I thought I'd do the work myself.
Here's a man who was one of the biggest sex symols of the early 80s:
And here's a man who is one of the biggest sex symbols of the 2000s:
From "maybe you can make out abs if you squint a little" to "yeah, you could grate cheese on that."
Most famous swimmer of the 1970s:
Most famous swimmer of this millennium:
[In fairness to Mr Spitz, his medals might be hiding some of the glory, and Mr Phelps is less cut in one of those pictures than the other.]
How about famous musicians that women would drop their panties for, no question? 70s version:
And stars who've been around forever can illustrate for us the metamorphosis of no abs to abs:
But what about the ladies? There are a lot of young women who want a six pack too these days. I don't know what they're seeing in the media to drive that, because I had a hard time finding examples of female celebrities with really defined abs.
There's everyone's favorite pr0n star turned fitness guru:
And there's Miss Jackson (if you're nasty):
And then there's Megan Fox, who apparently men find irresistible:
But back in the late 70s and early 80s, we had this:
And, from one of the most iconic film scenes of my youth, this:
Lovely, lovely abdomens on lovely young women, but not a popping muscle to be seen.
And then, of course, we had this:
When your sex symbols are wearing bathing suits like that, the rest of us weren't worrying about our 4 or 6 or 8 packs, capice?
So, kids, I hope this little travel through time has convinced you that my thesis is correct: in my day no one had abs! But as in everything in life, there are always early adopters.
Take it away, Iggy!