A study released this month says that 48% of gay men would sacrifice a year or more of their lives in exchange for a perfect body.
According to this research, 10% of gay men would actually agree to die 11 years earlier in exchange for their ideal body now.This is significantly higher compared to straight men, of which only a third said that they would exchange a year or more for an ideal body shape. Of the straight men in the study, 77% admitted to buying into the body image ideal. The Gay respondents were generally more affected by body concerns, and were more likely to make body comparisons. They were also more likely to use “body talk”: speech that implicitly or explicitly reinforces or endorses the traditional western standard of male attractiveness: tall, lean, muscular, toned body with clear skin and a full head of hair.
91.2% of gays said admitted to making statements which reinforce this image, compared with the 77.4% of straight men.
Nearly twice as many gay men as straight, 59% to 32%, said they compare themselves to better-looking men.
This research was part of a study that was commissioned by Central YMCA, the Succeed Foundation and the Centre for Appearance Research at UWE Bristol into how men talk about their bodies.
CEO of Central YMCA, Rosi Prescott, said “This research shows that body image anxiety is sadly much more of an issue for gay men.
“Today gay men are under enormous pressure about their bodies, and we believe that a lack of body diversity in the media, including the gay press, and a relentless focus which values people based on appearance, may in part explain why gay men are particularly susceptible to this issue.
“This is of concern when we know that record numbers of men are taking steroids or having unnecessary cosmetic surgery to achieve what is often an unattainable or unrealistic body image ideal. Central YMCA is campaigning to promote greater body diversity in the media, and for young people to be given an opportunity to learn more about body image in schools.”
Straight men came out narrowly ahead of gays when rating how they important they thought their body was to their partner.
According to Dr Phillippa Diedrichs, who conducted the study at UWE Bristol “This research really demonstrates that body image is an issue for everyone, and that we need to take a collaborative approach towards promoting an environment that values diversity in appearance and promotes healthy body image.”
The YMCA’s Body Confidence campaign aims to promote positive body images in schools, at Parliament and through research.
394 men were questioned for the study during November and December 2011.