The route from Beowulf to Pajama Boy has been a very long downhill slide. Popular culture has always shaped our standards and expectations, then as well as now. “Pajama Boy” is the current archetype of a new style of male — the government-approved, popular-culture-validated male, perhaps best defined recently by the New York Times list of 27 ways to be a Modern Man.
From wastefulness (“The modern man checks the status of his Irish Spring bar before jumping in for a wash. Too small, it gets swapped out”), to silliness (“Does the modern man have a melon baller? What do you think? How else would the cantaloupe, watermelon and honeydew he serves be so uniformly shaped?”), to the assumption that he lives in the city (“The modern man has no use for a gun. He doesn’t own one, and he never will”) to the relaxation of expectations (“The modern man cries. He cries often”), the modern male-identity situation has deteriorated into ambiguity.
Pajama Boy is the embodiment of the absence of physical strength, and thereby the supplantation of the concept of physical masculinity. Some have rebelled against this situation in their own way.
In his 2014 piece in Time, Denver Nicks defines the term “lumbersexual” to describe this recent trend:
[M]y lumbersexuality is, in part, a response to the easing of gender identities in society at large over the last few decades.
The Urban Dictionary was more concise in 2010 in defining the term:
A metro-sexual who has the need to hold on to some outdoor based ruggedness, thus opting to keep a finely trimmed beard.
Yes, friends, growing a beard is easier than getting and staying strong.
Here is yet another approach:
This individual has applied a different set of standards to his efforts: he is still primarily concerned with appearance, but he prefers abs over facial hair. And physical activity performed for the purpose of conforming to a preordained aesthetic standard is a version of the Lumbersexual mindset. Abs Boy here looks the way he does because he thinks he’s supposed to look that way.
In previous articles, I have extolled the virtues of strength training. Strength facilitates your ability to get things accomplished within your physical existence — it defines your relationship with your external environment. It is good to be strong, whether you’re a man or a woman, because your strength is intimately associated with your health and longevity, and ultimately your physical independence.
Our man here is strong — and he got that way through his own hard work, determination, and persistence. Our man looks good accidentally as a function of what he does for strength.
He has consulted no magazine or website for guidance about his ideal appearance. The benefits of having planned and executed his own strength improvement transcend the physical. He’s not only stronger, he’s better in most other ways as well.
Strength training is not popular right now, and our man has not settled into the role popular culture and its promoters in media and government have prepared for him. He has gone through the process of starting at the beginning and working toward a goal he set for himself, with no help from anybody else other than the information they may have provided.
His efforts are not sanctioned by any outside entity, they remain unapproved by network television and the New York Times, and the results go unappreciated by the vast majority of the population.
A tan, abs, hideously expensive yoga pants, coffee made by other people, a meticulously trimmed beard, the politically correct demeanor — all are affectations designed to improve your stock with other people. They lack intrinsic value, since any value they impart to you is assigned externally. People who depend on value assigned to them by others are obviously in a perpetually vulnerable position. They are fragile, in more than a physical sense.
Our man doesn’t care about any of that, because he is concerned with rational analysis, and the consequences of his actions for himself and his family. He remains unaffected by irrelevant cultural and social influences. He is independent of fad and fashion. He understands the accumulated effects of the pursuit of the male role in human society, the costs and benefits of having done so, and the relationship of physical strength to the male archetype. Strength is infrastructure and engineering. Strength is the ability to act, and its physical acquisition teaches the process throughout a man’s existence.
So, our man trains for strength. You should, too.