Body Image And You

Eating Disorder_Body Dysmorphia

Many gay men fail to perceive their own looks clearly. They have a mental image of how they look. Most of the times this picture is not flattering. If a gay man has managed to pick up a lot of sex partners then his self-image will be a flattering one. But if he fails to be accepted by another cruiser then his self-esteem plummets. Not everyone goes through these fluctuations; you often perceive your body according to how people see you.

It is not wrong to accept criticism of people, but do not be ruled by it. This is especially important today, because we are exposed to nudity in magazines and the internet. We are subjected to seeing handsome, tall, slender males with wide shoulders, huge arms, muscular legs and rounded buttocks. The muscular six pack now seems to be required of any male appearing in public.

This plays a havoc with men`s body image. Our bodies are defined by genetics, health and also by the exercise we undertake. You could exercise a lot and be very healthy, but you still may not be able to attain the ‘standard’ physique as it is not in your genes. What you consider as your worst feature may be considered your best one by someone else.

Gay men with a poor body image convey a sense of insecurity to the people they meet. Their insecurity is a turn-off and their fear of being ugly, becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.


So is there any way to improve your body image? Sure there is. Here are few things you can try:

  1. Ask a friend what he likes about your body. You will be surprised when your partner praises your small ears or the rivulet of hair running from your navel into your crotch, for example. These are things you have never paid attention to.
  2. If there is someone you trust completely, you can ask him to join you in an experiment. Have him sit in a chair and look at you while you stand and study yourself in the mirror. Tell him about all the things you like about yourself—your smile, your eyes, your neck, your skin colour—whatever it is. You could look at yourself nude or clothed. If you don`t want to do this in front of someone else, do it alone, but make sure that you say the complimentary things about yourself out loud.
  3. Swim, take up a new sport or join a gym. When you begin to show physical gains, show them off with more revealing clothing, perhaps by going to a pool or the beach.
  4. Attend to other aspects of your appearance—your clothes, your hair, etc. Small changes will do wonders to the way people, and even you, look at yourself.
  5. Don`t let anyone put you down.

I would like to conclude by saying that set your own standards for your looks rather than submitting to the standards (either real or imagined) of others. Change begins within yourself. These positive feelings will attract others too.

Dr. Uttam Dave
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