I am so tired of worrying about my body. I am tired of thinking how it looks to others, whether it’s toned enough, big enough, smooth enough. Whether my pecs are even, whether my ass is perky or whether or not you can see my six-pack. Come to think of it, I’m also tired of hearing about your body. I’m tired of seeing pictures of your meal preparation, updates about your weight gain or your weight loss, reflections of your rippling back in gym mirrors. I’m tired of your mini-essays about “achieving your goals” and “how far you’ve come in the last five years”. I’m tired of the gay obsession with body image.
This homo-focus on body image is not for me. While others are happy to count their calories and pre-cook their meals a week in advance, I would rather eat out at a nice restaurant, do Pilates, spend time with my mates at the pub or learn a new skill, like French or First Aid.
I’m not sure what it’s like within your gay community but where I live this body obsession seems to have reached a new level of absurdity. This is particularly evident in the lead up to events like Mardi Gras where guys will devote all their spare time and mental energy to a strict health regime in order to look good for one weekend three months in the future. And for what? To get laid? So that they can be ogled at by other men while they dance shirtless? I wonder what happens after Mardi Gras when they’ve had plenty of sex but they’re still alone.
The pursuit of body perfection is a symptom of the gay sickness that is instant gratification. Sex is so readily available to gay men that they obsess over ways to look more attractive than their competition all in a bid to get laid. They go to extremes such as injecting illegal and harmful substances into their bodies in order to look bigger, hoping that when their body is perfect then they’ll finally be seen as attractive in the eyes of others. But working on your outer appearance will not lead to happiness. After all the sex, gay men, just like the rest of humanity want to be loved. The problem though is that you cannot create meaningful relationships while you’re only focused on the superficial.
Sustainable relationships are not built on sexual attraction only. There are much more important things that create longevity in a relationship. What happens if your partner becomes ill? What happens if they get cancer and their body withers away? What happens when you’re older and your body isn’t as toned as it once was? What happens to your relationship then? What happens when you stop taking steroids and you become fat? How long will your partner stick around then? When I’m 85 and I’m old and grey, sitting in a nursing home in adult diapers, I want to be next to my partner and I want to be able to laugh at the situation with him. Humor, love, respect, friendship – these are the things that last when the rest of you fades away. I want a man who is more than his body.
Recently I was at a gay venue with friends and as I looked around I noticed that everyone was starting to look the same. There were hundreds of men but they all looked like carbon cutouts of each other, albeit of varying heights. They were all similarly dressed and had obviously spent a substantial amount of time in the gym. Seeing these men made me realize how unfortunate it is that gay culture holds up one body type as the ideal and as a result everyone else feels obliged to meet that standard. Sure women have been suffering the same fate for centuries but at least there have been vocal opponents to the generalization of the female body image. Where are the vocal opponents to the gay male image? Young gay men trawl the Instagram profiles and Facebook pages of older gay men (many of whom are using steroids) and feel that this is what it means to be gay. When they can’t meet these unrealistic and unhealthy expectations they feel unattractive and isolated within their own community.
I don’t want to be part of a club that places body perfection above all else and nor would I want my future partner to be either. I value personality over biceps, witty banter over bulging quads, education over time spent in the gym and I hope to find someone who values similar things. Until then I’ll be eating carbohydrates, doing Pilates and drinking beers at the pub.