Some delicious news just came across my desk.
According to unicornbooty.com, a recent study of 394 participants conducted by the Central YMCA, the Succeed Foundation and the Centre for Appearance Research at UWE Bristol, found that about 92 percent of gay men are obsessed with body image and that 59 percent of gay men compare themselves to other men they deem more attractive. And the figure for straight men? Half of that.
That may provoke a “no, duh” out there, but let’s do some more math.
The study also concluded that 48 precent of gay men would sacrifice a year or more of their lives in exchange for a perfect body. ONE YEAR. And then came this morsel: 10 precent of gay men would agree to die more than 11 years earlier if they could have their ideal body now. And this: Nine in ten gay men admit they also “enforce unrealistic images” of “attractive” muscular men in talking with others. About 35 precent of gay men said they were “anxious” about what their pals think about their body.
And straight men? Only one in five straight men seemed to care what their friends think about their body.
While this news may not be surprising to some, the 411 certainly raises eyebrows and once again proves to me that there are not many discussions being had among gay men about the deep desires/pressures to fit a certain ideal—the “gay” ideal/look that somehow became a standard way of being. By not talking about these issues, the problem continues.
I’ll be doing talks to groups of gay men on the matter this spring—all this sprouted thanks, in part, to a chapter about men and eating disorders that was included in the book I co-wrote “Shut Up, Skinny Bitches!”
Stay tuned for more on this matter, but in the meantime, I say this: Shut up, and do some service!
Being healthy and looking good is nice. But when it becomes an obsession, how healthy is it, really? Giving is actually proven to offer stellar health benefits. Not too long ago, Forbes Magazine came out with a report that illuminated the benefits of charitable work. Giving immediately pulls you away from yourself. There’s no time to worry if you look good in your jeans. You can’t really focus on how many carbs, calories or fat grams you’ve been consuming—or how many your pal has either. There isn’t enough to time to fret about dieting or obsess about buffing up your biceps or hoping for that rock-hard ass that will make your world spectacular.
Here’s the thing: The world is spectacular no matter what weight or size you are. It’s there for the taking. Look around. LOOK at the people around you. Life isn’t all about how much a person weighs or how they look. It’s more about inter-relationality. So, if we find ourselves consumed with a new fad diet or something of that ilk, maybe it’s best to catch ourselves and consider switching gears. Why not locate several places in our neighborhood where we can give back—a homeless shelter or a food bank that feeds the homeless are great portals where you’re giving can make a difference. But there are so many others, too—from organizations helping teens or at-risk youths to mentoring.
Look away from the mirror—and body obsession. In 2012, it’s not about your waistline …. It’s about giving back.
OUT: Being overly self-involved.
I’ll leave you with this quote from the great Mohammad Ali: “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”