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Updated 10:35 AM EDT, Thu, Apr 18, 2019

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‘Spornosexuals’ are on the Rise in Britain

Selfie creature

(Photo : Getty Images) Ronaldo: spornosexual supreme.

The number of "spornosexuals" is on the rise in Britain and we have that country's lingering austerity to than for these body obsessed narcissists.

Spornosexuals, a term coined by writer Mark Simpson, refers to men that are so obsessed with social media and selfies they pay inordinate attention to the physical attractiveness of their bodies. Think six-pack abs and chiseled bods like the one on Ronaldo.

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Spornosexual, a portmanteau of sports star and porn star, denotes men that strive to look like sportsmen or porn stars. It marks the next stage in the evolution of the non-body fixated metrosexual. You might also call a spornosexual a metrosexual infatuated with his body.

A new study in the United Kingdom has revealed the ongoing economic crisis and austerity are apparently turning more young men into spornosexuals.

This study from the University of East Anglia (UEA) suggests traditional routes to male success and power have been eroded by austerity. The offshoot is that young Brits tend to seek value through their bodies.

"One of the most interesting aspects of this development is the power-shift of a segment of society who have historically defined themselves through their mind, whilst at the same time defining those they have subordinated -- women, gay and working-class people -- through their bodies," said study author Dr. Jamie Hakim, a lecturer in media studies at UEA's School of Film, Television and Media Studies.

"The former group has historically been employed as high-paid decision-makers, whilst the latter have had to rely on their bodies for low- or no-pay work, such as manual and domestic labor, slavery and sex work."

Dr. Hakim noted that austerity has eroded young men's traditional means of value-creation making them become increasingly reliant on their bodies as a means of feeling valuable in society.

"In theoretical terms, so-called 'spornosexuality' is an embodied response to material changes brought about by neoliberal austerity."

Dr. Hakim examined data from Sport England that showed a significant year-on-year increase in the number of 16 to 25-year-old men attending the gym between 2006 and 2013. Market research company Nielsen found that sales of sports nutrition products used to strip body fat and build muscle increased by 40 percent in Britain's 10 largest supermarkets -- the second-largest growth in sales of any product sold in supermarkets in 2014.

Dr. Hakim also found this demographic is both consuming and producing print and digital media that relates to body building. The print version of Men's Health magazine became the best-selling title in the British men's magazine market in 2009, selling nearly twice as many copies as its nearest competitor, the well-established GQ magazine.

At the same time, the overall consumer magazine market was dramatically falling in circulation. Fitness-related hashtags on social media sites now number in the multi-millions.

The research shows that young men have become increasingly adept at building a social media brand based around their bodies and similarly savvy about marketing themselves through social media.

This involves a significant amount of work but offers very little reward. Large amounts of time and constant labour are necessary to maintain both body and brand, but the pleasures yielded are only fleeting. But with little else of enduring value available in the current economy, these men feel compelled to continue to pursue these activities.

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