To say that we all struggle with body image may be an understatement. I would argue very few people in this world are completely satisfied with the way their body looks. For most people, that revolves around their weight or the shape of their midsection. This is nothing new of course, women have tackling body image issues for centuries. And right behind them is a subculture of chiseled ab obsessed gay men. But just how bad is body dysmorphia in the gay community?
Well after reading this article from Instinct, I’m beginning to think it’s a lot worse than anyone ever imagined.
In fact, a survey of 384 men in England with an average age of 40 showed that 48% of those surveyed said they would give up a year of their life in order to have a more muscular and leaner body. While that’s disturbing enough, roughly 10% of the men said they would choose to die more than 11 years earlier to have the perfect body now.
The article goes on to discuss how body image is an issue for everyone but has been under reported in men, and middle aged men in particular. The authors of the study point out that gay men are under tremendous pressure about their bodies.
First let me say that in no way am I happy with how my body looks. I realize it’s fine (most people would argue that I should be thankful), but it is nowhere near perfect. But I also have no delusions that it will ever be perfect. Yes, I’d love to look more like the pictures of Ryan Gosling or Sean Patrick Davey – but I’m not heart broken that I don’t look like them. And I certainly wouldnt shave a year off of my life to have a “perfect body” – what seems like an impossible ideal. And 11 years? Forget about it.
But the thing that kills me about articles like this is the fact that they reinforce the stereotype of what the “perfect body” is… IN THE ARTICLE. Clearly they knew exactly what they were doing when they used the picture of a guy with chiseled abs, well defined pecs and arms, and a body fat percentage low enough that you can see his superficial inferior epigastric veins on his abdomen. Not to mention the shirtless model in the ad for the Aspen Gay Ski Weekend (you might have a different ad when you look at the article, but I’m sure it will also depict a shirtless muscle stud). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about the shirtless hot guy. But if you think the gay community has body image issues, it’s no wonder why…