Research shows that gay men don’t like their bodies very much. That might seem surprising, given the amount of time many of us spend at the gym. We probably devote more time and effort to cultivating our physical selves than any other demographic group. Just the same, research indicates that straight men like their bodies most, followed by gay women; straight women like their bodies less than these first two. The group that likes their physical appearance the least is gay men.
Why is this? Gay men spend a lot of time in places that place a premium on physical appearance: bars, gyms, sex clubs. We live in a sexualized subculture that places a premium on physical beauty, and media and advertising bombard us with images that reflect an impossibly high standard of physical beauty. Under circumstances like these, it’s easy to confuse who you are with how you look.
We all like to see attractive men, of course. Still, more and more men – even men with bodies that most of us would agree are muscular and very attractive – find themselves very dissatisfied with how they look. At it’s most extreme, this situation is called body dysmorphia – a preoccupation with some imagined defect in appearance when the person involved is actually very normal looking. This problem can lead to depression and trouble forming healthy relationships.