Envy, and comparing ourselves to others.
I get envious of boys who, I think, are better looking and more buff than me. Which is a broad bunch. I know, I go one photo shoots etc but I’m incredibly insecure. Anyone who knows me will attest to my inability to take a compliment.
I look at other guys I admire and I get envious. Why can’t I look like “that”. Or do I actually want to sleep with them? Is is the classic gay conundrum? “Do I want to be him or be in him?”
Envy can lead down a dark path towards being mega dysmorphic, and it’s very common. Men these days worry about both being overweight but also under weight. Someone I went to university with used to wear five or more t-shirts just so he didn’t look so small. He was straight, and was so embarrassed when people found out what he did that he actually started to see a counsellor. But as people who knew him, it just wasn’t a ‘thing’ and not one person mocked him (no one cared). It was all in his head.
The results of a Gay Times Magazine’s body survey a few years back in 2016 had some interesting results. 56% said that they thought gay men, in general, had a ‘poor body image’ and that guys seem to ‘stress about it too much.’ Also 33 out of 1000 respondents said they’d used steroids to enhance their gym performance.
“56% said that they thought gay men, in general, had a ‘poor body image’”
I touched on steroids in a previous column, and just how common they are. But doesn’t that just prove that we strive to want to looker ‘hotter’ and better? Seeing a buff guy motivates me to want to work hard in the gym, and achieve better results, but a deep envy could lead down a steroid route.
Please pardon the pun, but dysmorphia sure comes in all shapes and sizes. “Bigorexia”, or muscle dysmorphia was only coined by American psychiatrists a few years ago and has become a serious issue. Guys have really damaged themselves in steroid abuse in the dream to be big. It’s an issue not to be taken lightly, or even scoffed at. I suffer from bigorexia. And it sometimes does feel deeply embarrassing when you tell someone out loud.
I’ve had a lot of people get in touch to say “it’s like your in my head” and we just need to all remember to be kind to ourselves, and (to be a bit Jerry Springer), kind to each other. Find those positive compliments for others and you.
The NHS has help for dysmorphia – do not feel embarrassed if you feel like you need to talk to someone.
This column was originally printed in Gay Times magazine and edited May 2019
Picture credit: Lee Faircloth.