Ryan Shea looks at the pressure gay men are under to conform to body standards, and the toll this is taking on them.
When we are young our parents (if they are good of course) teach us to play well with others regardless of traits such as physical appearance and difference of interests. As time goes by, we get older and start the “Human Nature” process of either quiet or blatant judgement when it comes to anything from the popular girl that you hate but secretly want to be like to the nerdy kid with the bad acne who you want to laugh at but probably will realize how much richer and better off they will be than you in the future. We also consistently compare each other, both men and women, in terms of weight.
Now that I have been in the gay community for a number of years, it seems to be a common thread that so many men talk about- weight. Gaining, losing, maintaining- I’ve heard it all. It has become an obsession in our culture in particular to be a certain size if you want to be desirable to a group or variety of groups who like your body type. Be it the muscle jock who fits in with the up and coming trendy Hell’s Kitchen scene, the muscle bear who you see chugging beers with his friends at Gymbar, or even the husky dude who loves the belly rubs from his friends and admirers at Rockbar, we all think about how we want to viewed in the physical sense. But at what point does weight become a dysmorphic lifestyle and when does it become something that you can take control of?
I have several personal friends, who are all in great shape, tell me in confidence that they still see themselves differently. They don’t see how great they look now, but instead tend to always focus on the past and not the present tense. This bodes so many issues that are included in dysmorphia- including confidence, insecurity, and above all not having overall positive outlook on yourself and your life. This can lead to clinical depression which is something that I have seen happen both inside and outside of the gay community. Why do we put ourselves through this?
I had a friend of mine who is well known in the adult industry. What makes this guy so damn attractive outside of the aesthetic that he has worked very hard at is that he is also a very smart and intelligent guy. However, he has told me several times that in the mirror, in his scenes and even when other guys want him, he still looks at himself as the dorky gay kid that got pushed into lockers by his peers. It’s mind blowing to me that this is their reality. One time we were headed to dinner with his boyfriend and his boyfriend and I suggested Outback and he opted for sushi simply stating- “I have a shoot next week and don’t want to look fat”. To which I replied- “I highly doubt the guy who is watching this movie is going to turn it off because he can see the pumpernickel bread with butter in your stomach mid thrust”. Granted I can joke about it, but he takes it very seriously. So why all of this in today’s modern world?
Many solutions are from within, but it’s also the image that the gay community has kind of made itself to be. We are shown so many different images of male models who are in shape with rock solid bodies that we feel we need to live up to that type. Unless it is a bear-related magazine, all of the other trendy gay magazines have the same type of model on the front, just a different name and hairstyle or unique tattoo placement. We also are in the world of the Smart Phone, where each app comes with its own sort of judgement. If your profile blatantly states “In Shape”, it then shuns away a good amount of guys who automatically feel that this one dbag won’t even talk to them because they don’t have a 6 or 8 pack.
I’ve heard from several different people the lengths they will go to have said bodies, one being the ever so popular “juicing” or taking steroids which can lead to a ton of physical and mental problems. I think the extremities that men will go to to achieve this type of quote unquote “physical perfection” is very alarming and is something that needs to be more of an open conversation and ultimately a way to find inner happiness that doesn’t revolve around the amount of guys who turn around when you walk into a gay bar.
What is your opinion on this? If you want to learn more on Body Dysmorphic Disorder, click here.
Originally published at www.manhattandigest.com
On Twitter @manhattandigest
—Photo Dominic pics/Flickr
Like The Good Men Project on Facebook
You might also like: