Dear Gay Men, Getting The Perfect Body Isn’t Everything

Body obsession DP
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Dear Gay Men,

We’re a little too obsessed with how we look.

Yes, not all of us are muscle chasing gym bunnies. But judging from the abundance of selfies and shirtless pictures of gay men all over Instagram, it’s evident that a significant proportion are.

The obsession with physical appearances isn’t merely confined to the virtual realm. A trip down to a gay club or a circuit party and chances are you’ll see more skin than cloth. Just ask anyone who went to the recent Songkran circuit parties in Bangkok.

Asian gay circuit party
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It’s not surprising that gay culture places a premium on male physical beauty. After all, men are naturally wired to care more about physical appearances as compared to women.

Coupled with this fact is that unlike straight guys, our attraction to the same sex means that we judge how we look based on how we judge the looks of other men. Hence, we’re a little harder on ourselves than our straight counterparts when it comes to our physical appearance.

male body image
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However, we go beyond the realm of reason when we start prizing physical beauty over our mental health.

Statistically, we suffer from higher levels of stress and anxiety over how we look as compared to our heterosexual counterparts. One study has shown that when compared to straight men, we are more likely to report feeling pressured from the media to look attractive and are more conscious of how we look throughout the day.

The study also shows that gay men are much more likely to desire undertaking cosmetic surgery as compared to straight men. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with plastic surgery. But when the results of a survey show that nearly 50 per cent of gay men would gladly sacrifice one year of their lives to attain the perfect body, then something is very wrong here.

If that’s not shocking enough, the same survey reveals that 10 percent of gay men would agree to die more than 11 years earlier if they could have their ideal body right now! Yes, 11 YEARS!

perfect asian body
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The fact that some of us are more concerned about how we look over how we live is quite disheartening. Indeed, a lot of this has got to do with the media’s constant hyper sexualisation of gay culture, particularly from social media platforms like Instagram.

This has led to an increasing number of gay men feeling pressured to achieve a level of aesthetic that they perceive is championed in the gay scene so as to up their desirability. This creates a perception that the social hierarchy in the gay scene is defined by one’s level of physical attractiveness. Failing to look a certain way will relegate to being at the bottom of the social ladder.

Nevertheless, in accordance with the law of diminishing returns, many of us will continue to feel dissatisfied with our appearance in one way or another, irrespective of how many times we lift a dumbbell at the gym.

Thinking

So how do we fix our anxieties over how we look?

Sadly there isn’t a straightforward answer to this given how appearance driven the gay scene is. But we can begin to fix this issue by seeing our fellow gay peers as a sum of their qualities rather than on just the sum of their body parts.

Contributed by Kevin Hoang

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2 comments

  1. It has been said that gays’ value lie with how one looks. Physical appearances .
    A straight married Friend who was a hunk when in army now two decades later look with thick glasses ( used to wear contact lens back in camp ) and thin ( whereas he was a hunk who fits into any gym then ).
    When queried by me WHY? His answer was
    ” well I’m married for 8 years , to whom do I have to show looking good for now ?”
    My gay Friend conversely looked fitter and more well groomed now than when in the army years ago !!
    When asked ” wa you are fitter now than when in army !” He answered , ” what to do , Must upkeep my value Ma else who wants me !? In army so fit for what ?! Whole week in camp show who !?”
    The contrasty attitude within the conversation demonstrated the exact opposite mindset of a gay and a straight man ! One could not finger out in darkness the sinewy draw of muscularity but let’s not also kid ourselves that outward appearances aren’t as important as character , personality and maybe how deep ones pocket is !
    I’ve seen more young hunks without career or money established with girls holding their tight abs and hugging torso than richer established professionals seen with any partner – men or women !
    Demonstrably , outer appearances rules Britannia and the short mustached powerful man of Hitler met his doom in a bathtub ..
    Is it ideal ? Certainly not .. even as an experienced physique photographer myself who had the pleasure of countless hunks standing and posing flexing in front of my lens , I could not help notice their Instragam Facebook has the majority of their lives evolving in gym lifting dead weights and iron , which is most uninterlectually stimulating and suffering from cultural bankruptcy and lacking depth in artistic development. Is there anything else apart from iron lifting , in life ??
    There is then their character building and questionable personality. Some are most sweet ; the greatest pals one could find but many thinks themselves the alpha males and only person deserving to walk the earth ! Maybe to some of these hunks , they think it’s a sin to walk out doors unless one looks like them, with value added and gracing the occasion with their ” Gastonic ” presence . The Beast in this case, any other fat blobs !
    It is not rocket science therefore to imagine / envisage what kind of men better survives the Gaze of another who presume to be Adonis , else risk being banished from Beach parties and pink dot pride parades .
    Strutting peacocks however should not represent the Bird kingdom . Bald eagles are still dominant and king of the skies in many other ways and areas , just perhaps not in the circle ! Remember a swallow does not make a summer !
    There are many closeted gays or gays not in the circle who do not look as if they are about to take the stage of milan catwalk by storm but who nonetheless are hardworking Neighbours ready to extend a helping hand if needs be , although the longer stretch would be to pander to voyueristic material -worthy guy fresh back from the gym !
    Then again , whoever still believes in the world being a fair place ?

    Like

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