Why are gay men so obsessed with self-image?

It’s time to put a stop to vanity and unrealistic expectations and start accepting our faces and bodies just as they are.

Health Mental Health Peter Minkoff

It’s difficult to say whether we have popular and iconic TV shows to blame for this particular phenomenon; perhaps the image of the perfectly chiseled, charming, slightly bitchy and well-dressed gay man presented in the media is a mere reflection of what gay men are obsessed with in real life. While it may be futile to explore the topic of which came first – the chicken or the gay vanity, the topic of why gay men place so much emphasis on their appearance is definitely worth exploring, especially in the light of the fact that there are many gay men out there who don’t fit the stereotype and are subsequently forced to feel bad about being less than perfect. It’s time to put a stop to vanity and unrealistic expectations and start accepting our faces and bodies just as they are. And the only way to do so is by getting to the root of the problem – why are we so obsessed?

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The concerning numbers

According to a research published in the gay magazine “Attitude” a staggering 84 percent of men surveyed stated that they don’t feel satisfied with the way they look, and to make matters worse, they feel a constant pressure to look better. Some said that they were semi-satisfied while only a measly 1 percent said they were happy with their appearance. Now, this may not be so concerning – after all, straight, gay, bi, men, women, we all have insecurities and body issues. However, gay men (back to the stereotype) are expected to look like Greek gods more than other men, and what makes this issue more concerning is the fact that gay men are more prone to self-image induced (among other factors) depression and anxiety, which means that this pressure can actually be detrimental to their mental health.

Social media adds salt to the open wound

Ever since Instagram became the only platform that matters we’ve all been forced to put our best look forward. This, however, takes a higher toll on gay men as they were expected to look like the guys from the gay bar in Sex and the City long before social media was part of the equation. What you have to understand is that Instagram pics are as realistic as magazine covers. Even male models don’t look that good, and they make a living from it. So, the first thing you need to do is acknowledge and let it sink in – Instagram lives aren’t real and neither are those bodies. Then ask yourself – am I going to be a slave to stereotypes and unrealistic expectations or am I going to love myself and enjoy the life I have?

Don’t like it – fix it

There are things we can absolutely change, but you should change them for you, not for anyone else. If there is something that is causing you insecurities and body-image issues – fix it if it can be fixed. You don’t like the extra pounds? Make an effort to eat healthier and join a gym, and stop fearing the glances of perfect-looking gym goers – they have their insecurities too; we’re all in the same boat. You feel self-conscious about your tummy and exercise doesn’t seem to have an effect on that particular pocket of fat? Find a great clinic and look into tummy tucks. Gyms, spas, and even cosmetic procedures were invented for a reason, so if you believe this kind of change will bring more confidence and joy to your life, go for it – just don’t go Courtney Cox on it – all in moderation.

A hard pill to swallow

We are all created differently. You were born tall, short, with that kind of body shape and those facial features, so stop trying to look like anyone else and start loving all your flaws. Gay men know a thing or two about acceptance – or lack thereof; you’ve been scrutinized and judged for liking other men. You know how it feels to be judged solely on the basis of the preference you were born with and have no control over. You’ve gone through rejection, subsequent depression and worse, so why are you making it more difficult on yourself than society already has? Stop judging yourself and others for their and your looks and start uplifting yourself and your community. It’s high time.

Looks aren’t everything

Despite having so much attention these days, make no mistake about it: looks are far from everything. Sure, you may get a superficial dude – like the one portrayed by Jack in Will and Grace, but wouldn’t you rather be with someone who will stay longer than a night, someone with more substance to them? Your six pack may land you a guy for the night, but if you don’t possess wits, brains, humor, kindness and even hobbies and interests that have nothing to do with appearances, that guy won’t be staying for breakfast. So, stop obsessing about something that will fade sooner or later and focus on attaining something more permanent, something that will make someone want to sit on a couch with you long after the era of clubbing and experimenting is over. Great looks are nice, but there is nothing sexier than a man who is complete from within. Just something to think about.

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