OPINION | Why gay men will never be happy with their bodies (or will they?)
How many of us are never completely happy with our bodies? There’s a clouded grey area between what I wish I looked like and how good I can realistically look. This is probably the same for gay men, straight men, straight women and even lesbians alike. As with all factors of our lives, there’s always the strive for better or more.
After working in gyms and health clubs for the better part of three years I’ve found that even the hunkiest of personal trainers will have body envy over someone else. You’ll hear, I wish I had that guys chest, calves, abs, lats, etc all the time even when their physiques are pretty spectacular to start with.
The difference with us gays and our self-image is that we have a constant point of referral to how good we look everytime we lust after a hottie (which if you’re like me is about every 10 minutes). Whenever a scrumptious looking man walks past with his guns out, half of us thinks we wanna hit that and the other half thinks we oughtta hit the gym in order to look like that.
Another terrible moment of body image fear is when you get to disrobe with another hottie and staring back at you is a fun house mirror image of what you really hoped you’d look like by now. And even if the guy standing naked in front of you looks like Alcide the werewolf from True Blood; all you’re thinking about is how on your best day you’re more like Sam Merlott. If you’re not a True Blood fan then Google those characters and you’ll see what I mean; I recommend adding the word ‘naked’ or ‘topless’ afterwards in order to get a true representation of what I’m talking about.
There has been plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that gay men also struggle with a significant degree of self-hatred. Whether your childhood and coming out was dramatic or a breeze there would have been a point when you hated the strange feelings you were starting to recognise as being gay. This means that by definition gay men are less likely to be happy with ourselves and so will influence ever aspect of our lives from who we date, who we spend time with and the work that we do. In other words sleeping with uggos in order to get validation (tell me you haven’t done it), working out every day of the week and denying yourself carbs in an effort to look perfect. Self-hatred on any scale makes us more susceptible to having an external-identity; meaning that we place more emphasis on how others see us rather than how we see ourselves.
Research has show that, not surprisingly, gay men and straight women have the most negative body images and that straight men and lesbians are the most comfortable with their bodies. However, unlike straight women who have a good chance of finding someone who loves them even though they don’t look like a movie star (because straight men are less focused on body image), gay men will often have a difficult time finding someone who isn’t overly-focused on body image and therefore help them overcome body dysmorphic beliefs. How many times have you dismissed someone for being a little chubby or you’ve been dismissed because you’re not a grade-A gym hottie? It’s par for the course in the gay dating world for hotties to only date equally hot men; thus making the stereotype even harder to break.
When I started travelling I wasn’t able to be in a regular gym routine and didn’t eat healthy, ok fine I probably didn’t need to have chocolate biscuits for breakfast but I figured in for a penny in for a pound… and man did the pounds pile on. I managed to gain a stone in a month and had no one to blame but… everyone else in the world! Man boobs aside the 6 months I spent in Dubai did give me the chance to focus on something other than how much I weighed. There was nothing I could do about it, with no money for a gym membership, no room to properly exercise, not even the possibility to go out for a walk in the 45 degree heat, I just had to learn to love my fat. It was incredibly frustrating but at the same time it was very freeing. How long have you been harbouring weight loss/gain goals? How many years have you spent deeming your life not a complete success because you didn’t have a six-pack? How many years will it be until you finally realise that a six-pack won’t bring you happiness, it will only bring you hunger?
Personally I found great comfort in Hugh Jackman … not in that way… although I wouldn’t say no. Hugh was one of the first body transformations that I’d read about for men training for a role. And while the man looks fantastic (go on, Google him, say it’s research and enjoy) his training regime and diet is insane. It highlights that what Hollywoods shows us is most definitely art, not real life. While it is possible to train hard and look like Wolverine it involves waking up at 4:30am to eat salmon so that you have enough protein in your diet, training for several hours everyday, eating 6,000 calories as day of miserable food and getting paid to do it rather than paying to do it. It’s his job; he wouldn’t do it if he didn’t have to and couldn’t get the results without someone to do it for him.
So give yourself a break and learn to love your fat.
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Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.