The testosterone is running high, especially in the designer gyms of West Hollywood. It's Summer and everyone's fasting, tanning or detoxing for the ubiquitous pool party, a predictable trip to Mykonos or that hot weekend circuit in Palm Springs. There's an edgy energy in the gym and this is the habitat I find myself working out in, amongst the most beautiful and brawny in The Land of Make Believe.
In all seriousness, I must confess, that since joining my designer gym, I’ve compared myself to other guys working out. I’ve even started conversations with other men about body image, literally about butts, botox, and biceps. It’s got me thinking about how men are viewing themselves in ways which were considered the realm of women. What I find most revealing is the stress, anxiety, and state of flux many men find themselves in today in relation to their body image. Mass media has much to do with this, depicting the ‘ideal’ person, and after so many repeated images, it starts to seep in that we just aren’t ‘enough’.
Body Dysmorphia (BDD) is an important issue for our community to address because it’s one that’s glossed over. It’s time we took a breath and questioned whether this quest for perfection is healthy and question why we think it will make us happy? For those unfamiliar to the term, body dysmorphia it’s a body image disorder where the person sees their body through a distorted lens. Flaws stand out, good isn’t good enough. Anxiety, depression, eating disorders, social anxiety and OCD can cause or be the result of BDD. In the United States, it BDD affects 2.5% of men (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).
From my experience in the gay community, the ideal person you’re expected to be is health conscious, incredibly ripped, washboard abs, great skin, perfect teeth, and just drop dead hot. Not to mention being a scintillating conversationalist... The feeling you get is if you haven’t acquired those attributes, you’re less of a man and far from being an ideal partner. Sometimes I feel anything short of Michelangelo’s ‘David’ statue would be considered less than the gay ideal.
Being in the best physical shape is a great ideal to have and work towards, though we need to frame it in a way that doesn’t demand perfectionist from us. Many of us are holding up an ideal beyond most humans. Some men can look like that and good for them – but we shouldn’t denigrate their bodies!! For the rest of us, our bodies shouldn’t bring us shame. It’s something to accept, perceived flaws and all.
I believe in doing the best you can with what you’ve got. It’s clear from the research that men are guilty of not only comparing themselves to other men but commenting on one another's bodies; which in many cases can only have a damaging effect. We need to stop comparing ourselves and get our priorities in order. Accept yourself for who you really are. Don’t compare yourself to anyone, let alone a perfectly lit photo-shopped image of a fitness model. Practice positive affirmations every day. Know you’re good enough. Stop with the negative, damaging comparisons and remember that no matter where you are right now, you’re prefect. You’re hot, You’re sexy and what you’re looking for is looking for you right now!