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.
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.
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!
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.
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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