While Cristiano Ronaldo is notoriously cocky—yes that pun is very intended—it is hard to conceive that even he believes anyone remotely cared about his deep thoughts on male active wear.
That is especially unlikely when he is standing before us, flaunting his tan, perfectly-chiseled washboard abs and his magnificently-toned thighs while a very clingy pair of trunks barely covers his bulge.
Yet, at the launch of his fourth collection of CR7 Underwear, the Portuguese soccer star pretended that people were interested in gleaning his fashion insight or even evaluating the underwear he all but certainly didn’t design.
“The new campaign is all about body movement,” Rondalo said. “The way the product looks is key, but how it fits is equally important.”
All of that sounds like the Peanuts cartoon teachers’ inarticulate “wah wah wah” noise when juxtaposed with photos of a man who serves as masturbatory fodder for men and women who couldn’t explain own goals or penalty kicks if you offered to pay them in Ronaldo dick pics.
Ronaldo makes the noble effort to appear as more than a beefcake, even going so far as attempting to be relatable.
“I wanted to make sure that it is available in a variety of different design options -something for every man.”
Yeah, with your Adonis physique, $80 million earnings last year alone, and self-built museum to your own greatness, you really speak for every man, Ronaldo.
At the same time, Ronaldo—or whoever serves as his mouthpiece—is boasting that all the photos from this latest underwear campaign are “unretouched.”
Of course, no-one cares about the unretouched thing. This isn’t a Dove commercial. Ronaldo is the paragon of physical perfection, and by all accounts, he is very well aware of that.
It’s all a bit laughable that Ronaldo is attempting to be more than a pretty face (and jaw-droppingly stunning bod) because his greatest contribution off the pitch may be his role in making it okay for men to be sex objects and still be archetypes of athletic machismo.
Ronaldo is the epitome of what journalist Mark Simpson coined as the spornosexual—the male physical aesthetic where men’s “bodies (more than clobber and product) have become the ultimate accessories, fashioning them at the gym into a hot commodity.”
In fact, Simpson calls out Ronaldo and fellow football hottie, David Beckham, for ushering in this next evolution in our conceptions of male sexiness. Arguably, Beckham embraces his spornosexual statues with a bit more grace and somewhat less glaring Zoolander obliviousness.
But the similarities between these two athletic titans speak to how they’ve inverted centuries, if not millennia, of heterosexual male norms.
Like Ronaldo, Beckham has launched his own clothing line with nary a concern of seeming any less macho. Like Ronaldo, he seems to realize that said clothing line is mostly a vehicle to show off his tremendous body.
Most importantly, like Ronaldo, he seems to proudly take on his role as sex object, peacocking as the all too happy magnet for the male and female gaze.
Other male celebrities outside the world of sports have embraced this sex object role to widen the scope of what is considered acceptably masculine expressions of sexiness and sexuality.
Adam Levine is maybe the most famous for embracing this spornosexual ideal, especially after generously showing off his rear in “This Summer’s Gonna Hurt like a Motherf++++r” video.
It may seem tawdry and hypocritical to champion men for de-robing and peacocking, especially since these are roles that women have been pushing against for decades.
But there is something peculiarly progressive about athletes like Ronaldo and Beckham pushing against the bounds of conventional machismo and heterosexuality to court sexual longing stares without it being branded effeminate, weak, or, what those both code for, homosexual.
Fascinatingly, U.S. athletes are lagging behind their European counterparts in embracing this role.
When slugger Alex Rodriguez was mired in bad press as his marriage fell apart due to a reported affair with Madonna and he was utterly failing to live up to New york Yankees’ fans expectation, he was maligned for shooting a sexy spread for Details and being a “pretty boy”.
While Tom Brady and LeBron James are admired for their handsomeness, swagger, and even their fashion sense, one would be hard-pressed to find them showing off their bods for the delight of female and male admirers.
With so few openly gay professional athletes, it’s little wonder that U.S. sports figures are reluctant to embrace the role of sexual object.
As the media circus and controversy over even drafting Michael Sam last year showed, there is still a tremendous risk for an athlete to be or seem gay—whether its in negative attention or outright homophobia.
U.S. athletes still seem fiercely committed to a steely machismo, eschewing the male or female—sexual gaze.
And so, thank you Ronaldo: you have a great chest, fabulous abs, stellar legs—and you may well be a revolutionary.