There’s not one person on earth who hasn’t had a negative opinion about their body at some point. Attitude magazine all but confirmed this when their 2017 body survey revealed that more than half of gay men are unhappy with their bodies, and that 84 percent felt an “intense pressure” to possess what’s considered a “good body.”
Of the 5,000 person sample, only one percent said they were “very happy” with their body, compared to 10 percent who were “very unhappy”. Of course, body image issues are not exclusive to queer men, but one thing is for sure: its toxicity is rampant and permeates through all media, and it only seems to have gotten worse during the pandemic, when sedentary lifestyles have been enforced by the government and screen time has increased tenfold.
Since these are trying times, we spoke with queer men across the globe, as well as body positive comedian Todd Masterson (perhaps better known by his alias, @GayFatFriend), for the tips they use to love their bodies
only one percent said they were “very happy” with their body, compared to 10 percent who were “very unhappy”.
Log off and enjoy self care.
“I think social media is the biggest perpetrator of body image issues, so my biggest piece of advice is to log off,” Masterson shares. “I know it's hard––oh my GOD, is it hard!––but you can do it, even if it's just for an hour or a day.”
Being constantly bombarded by people’s perfect (and, let’s be honest, edited) bodies can really mess with our heads and make us feel inadequate. So put down the phone and do something that makes you feel good.
Masterson suggests going for a walk, watching a movie, or taking a nice hot shower. “Just do something to get away,” he says, “It really helps, especially during moments of extreme FOMO and inadequacy.”
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Get comfortable with your body.
For some of us, we dislike our bodies so much that we avoid so much as looking at it. But this behavior, while completely understandable, won’t herald progress. When you’re ready, make an effort to do the opposite by confronting your body.
“Take your shirt off. Wear your swimsuit around the house. Get comfortable with your body. Maybe even post a picture you would never think to post,” Masterson advises. “Start normalizing yourself to yourself, and you'll start being nicer to yourself. It sounds weird, but it really helps.”
Evan, 29, agrees, adding that affirmations can also be beneficial. “I stand in front of a mirror and tell myself all the things I wish I could hear from another person, like: ‘you’re beautiful, you’re worth loving, etc.’”
Similarly, whenever Justin, 32, has a negative thought about his body, he counteracts it with two positive perspectives, so he’s always thinking more positively than negatively about his body.
If you’re willing to go there, Paul, 36, recommends taking photos of yourself in various states of undress. “Treating my fat body like it’s a porn star’s or a supermodel’s helps make me feel like a model,” he says.
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Make social media a positive space.
While social media algorithms can make triggering images difficult to avoid, there is some general housekeeping you can do to keep these instances minimal.
“Follow the people that make you happy and unfollow the ones that don't,” Masterson advises. “If you feel sad or mad everytime you see someone in your feed, that's probably a good sign to unfollow them.”
Once you’ve digitally saged your account, replace the toxicity with accounts that are supportive, body-positive and make you happy. “I like to follow people like Lizzo, Taylor Swift and Doug the Pug,” Masterson says. “Accounts that I know (for me) are never gonna post something that makes me feel bad about myself.”
Wear clothes you feel confident in.
When we’re not confident in our bodies, we tend to hide in our clothes, purchasing big and baggy garments that camouflage just about everything. However, in purchasing clothes our actual size, a number of individuals said they looked and felt better about themselves.
“I can’t stress how empowering it was to learn how to dress myself in a way that was appropriate for my body,” Eddy, 28, says. “Once I understood my body shape, I knew how to highlight what I liked and hide what I didn't. It made me feel a lot more confident and happy with my body.”
Andrew, 29, found that buying clothes that flattered his body instead of wearing what others were wearing helped a lot. “I was always comparing how I looked in similar outfits, instead of embracing how I felt,” he says.
Be patient with yourself.
Remember that loving yourself takes time and we’re going to slip every now and then. Because we’re taught such a limited body standard is beautiful, we need to actively reframe self-love through our own lens. It’s a process that takes as much learning as it does unlearning.In the meantime, be kind to yourself and remember that everybody feels this way at some point in their lives.
“It's so easy to feel like every person you meet is secretly thinking the same things you're thinking, but that's not true,” Masterson says, adding that if somebody does say something negative about your body, that they have their own issues to work through and they’re projecting. “I know it's hard and that these feelings of inadequacy seem like they’re never going to end,” he says. “But you're going to get through this.”