That quick glance in the hallway mirror tells you two things: first, that you can rock a sweater vest, and second, and more importantly, that the body beneath that vest isn’t going anywhere.
Sure, you could drop 10 pounds and transform from winter to summer mode. You could even gain 600 pounds and get a TLC special; please consult your physician first. However, even if you habitually binge and fast, your basic morphology is unchanging.
Your height and frame aren’t as malleable as the rest of you. We all learn this eventually. No matter how much I played basketball, being five-feet-nine-inches kept me out of the professional leagues. This marks a sad divide, one where genetic inheritance defeats skill and perseverance. Okay, I also wasn’t particularly good at basketball, but I prefer to blame genetics.
This mandatory dependence on one’s genome requires us to evaluate our own bodies. Take the good and the bad, and find the sport, exercise plan or lifestyle that suits you specifically.
Now, we need a way to specify. The somatotype test, a method of measuring your body type and fitness, will allow you to better create a practical goal.
The three body types in this method are the ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph.
The ectomorph is someone who loses weight easily, has difficulty adding weight or muscle and has a linear physique. The mesomorph gains and loses weight quickly and tends to have culturally approved proportions. The endomorph often loses weight slowly, gains it quickly and has a softer physique.
Some find these broad categories disheartening, while others find them liberating, but there are positives and negatives to each. The theory is to accentuate those positives.
Gender is an important component when thinking of these types. The slender ectomorph is a prime example. Our culture has flocked to the tall ectomorphic girl for 40 years. The male ectomorph, however, might feel too skinny compared to the muscular male ideal. With a renewed appreciation for athletic women, the mesomorph and endomorph body types are gaining more positive attention.
Unfortunately, it can be easy to laud the mesomorphs and ectomorphs and to forget about the endomorphs. The endomorphs often have the most difficult time aesthetically. Even if you are in comparable shape to the other body types, endomorphs often still look thicker or softer.
But fear not. An ectomorph has an advantage in some sports and in weight training. Any body builder will tell you that fat is necessary to increase strength and size; those who start training having more fat have the potential to become much larger and stronger over similar time frames. Another benefit for athletes is that the naturally higher body fat composition potentially reduces chance of injury.
The moral of the somatotype system isn’t that you are simply cursed or blessed with the body you have. Instead, it can help guide you toward taking advantage of all your type has to offer. Don’t waste time yearning after something that’s genetically impossible. So whether you’re an ectomorph, mesomorph or endomorph, it’s the body you’re stuck with, and you may as well enjoy it.
Spencer Pretecrum is a senior majoring in psychology and creative writing.