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A lot of body-image issues are related to/centered around femininity. Thus, we have tropes such as Big Breasts, Big Deal, A-Cup Angst, Hollywood Homely/Pudgy/Thin, Fat Girl, and so on. But the same way that thinness and breasts are associated with femininity, muscles are associated with masculinity. Thus, this trope, in which a character angsts about having not enough or too much muscle. There are two versions:

Examples of Muscle Angst include:


Advertising

  • The ad for Charles Atlas where a bully (inadvertently) kicks sand in the face of Mac and his gal. Allegedly this actually happened to the real Charles Atlas before he started doing dynamic tension.
  • Mixed with A-Cup Angst in an ad manga for Chasteberry E breast enlargement pills: the Pettanko tries out all kinds of hoo-hah gimmicks to make her breasts grow, including drinking milk, using a suction device, and doing dumbbell exercise... The last one of course does nothing to increase her mammary mass but gives her muscled arms, which she regrets.

Anime and Manga

  • Saber in Fate/stay night thinks she's too muscular. Not that you can tell by looking at her.
  • The comedic manga Short Cuts has a story in which a typical "kogal" gets trapped in a sumo wrestler costume and is forced into actual sumo competition. Eventually, she manages to get the zipper unstuck, only to find out all that exercise has made her unfashionably muscular. Not to worry though, a passing man still wants her... for the military!
  • Biske of Hunter X Hunter explains that the reason that she stays in her Sleep Mode Size is that her regular form is "too bulky".
  • Casca from Berserk complains that the fancy, frilly gown she dressed up in for a ball looks weird because she's too muscular. Now Casca is toned, but the fact that every male character thought she looked irresistible proves her wrong.
  • Variation in Pokémon Special. Ruby claims that he doesn't train his Pokemon for battles in fear that they will gain ugly muscles. Looks like to be a case of Muscles Are Meaningless, as it turns out his Pokemon are in fact very powerful and well-trained.

Film

  • In The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Dr. Frank-N-Furter created Rocky because he wanted a man with muscles. Frank insults Brad's lean build, and Brad's fiancée Janet replies that she doesn't like a man with too many muscles. Later Janet sings she is a muscle fan after having sex with Rocky.
  • Steve Rogers, whose health problems and weak build keep him from joining the army and getting girls, before he becomes Captain America.

Live Action TV

  • The 2005 TLC documentary The Man Whose Arms Exploded looks at an extreme degree of male Muscle Angst leading to steroid abuse and (in the case of bodybuilder Gregg Valentino) injecting oil into the biceps. Can be seen starting here (warning: some Nausea Fuel and a fair bit of bad language).

Video Games

Web Original

  • A Vocaloid fan video by Kagome-P had Gakupo depressed over his lack of muscle mass, and his story of emulating figures such as Alex Armstrong, Mantaro Muscle and an assortment of anonymous, heavily muscled figures in order to woo the girl of his dreams. This backfires at the end of the video, when he discovers that she's now into skinny guys and his struggle to get a toned body was for nothing.

Western Animation

  • Milhouse on one of The Simpsons episodes that takes place in the future.
  • The first ever Cutaway Gag in Family Guy showed a skinny and weak Adolf Hitler in a gym glaring angrily at a musclebound Jewish man surrounded by beautiful women.
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