I recently received a DM from a follower with a problem that will probably ring true for almost all of us. He wrote that he was struggling with the “gay beauty standard” – you know the one, muscular, fat ass, abs everywhere – and finds himself comparing his body to the guys he sees on apps. He said that as a bottom he felt that he needed a “big ass” to be desirable, and has been working out as much as he can to get there, but still feels poorly about himself. To compound the situation, he has a boyfriend who likes to point out how desirable these “big assed” guys are. He says he tries to make up for what he “lacks” in body with personality, but ends up feeling like it’s not enough.
I wanted to post about this because – believe or not – every single gay person deals with this problem. Even the guys who we think meet this so-called “gay beauty standard” deal with it because they have to obsess (often to an unhealthy extent) with maintaining whatever body it is that they have created. Before anyone comes for me – this is not a post discouraging people from being healthy, working out, or pursuing fitness. Everyone should 100% pursue whatever it takes to promote their physical health. This is a post about how pursuing physical health will look completely different for all of us, and why we shouldn’t hold ourselves to one standard of beauty.
First of all, I have never met a guy with a “perfect body” who doesn’t have extensive insecurities about that body or something else. Once you start talking to these guys, they unveil a lot. Oftentimes, these guys have dealt with body image issues on a severe scale (i.e. they were always made fun of for being too skinny or too big, and conforming their body to the “gay beauty standard” is their way of saying ‘bitch, what’ to everyone who made them feel less than worthy before. I have seen countless examples of this with celebrities, guys who are tired of being overlooked on apps, guys who move to a big city and think they need to fit in, etc.
While there is nothing wrong with transforming your physical appearance if it makes you feel better, many people often neglect the psychological underpinnings that are more important. Suddenly having this generically nice body does not help you deal with the hurt of the past, it does not give you a newfound sense of self-worth, it does not highlight what’s actually unique or special about you – it simply makes you look like everyone else. The guys who transform themselves to meet gay beauty standards may find themselves worse off if they don’t deal with those underlying issues.
Sure, they may get more attention from guys, but it will most frequently be from guys that value body over brains, personality, and heart – you know, the foundations of love and meaningful connections. They may find themselves disposable and feeling more rejected before. A “perfect body” is a dime a dozen – if you have no other sense of self-worth, you’re going to be pretty crushed when you realize “perfect guys” get dumped just as often and deal with the same issues as all of us. This may trigger a dangerous cycle of meeting even more guys (again, probably shallow ones) to make up for the loss of the ones before. Suddenly, your “fat ass” is getting a lot of action but your poor heart and emotions feel emptier before. Ever been to LA? Lots of empty souls with perfect bodies and fat asses, just saying.
That brings me to my follower’s other issue – a boyfriend perpetuating his self-consciousness. You should never ever be dating someone who makes you feel even one ounce of insecure about yourself. Dating should be a voluntary, positive, and happy endeavor. If someone doesn’t appreciate you for everything you bring to the table today – do not be with them. I don’t care how they try to phrase their opinions or manipulate you (i.e. ‘I love everything about you, but if you worked out a little bit more you’d be so hot’) – no ma’am. It’s all toxic, and you should demand better for yourself. The right person will not drop subtle hints about how or why you can be better. The right person will want to be with the version of you that you are today and can look forward to growing alongside whatever version of you that you choose to evolve into.
Yes, I know this sounds like some idealistic bullshit, but it’s true. It may take a while to find someone who loves you on that level – but that’s because good love is hard to find. And that is true for the guys with the “perfect bodies” (for reasons discussed above) and everyone else who fall along millions of points on the toxic gay beauty spectrum. In the meantime, what we all have to learn to do is stop comparing ourselves to others. If you find yourself doing it, please try to remember that a generically appealing body is not some magic key to love and acceptance. It may actually lead to even more problems.
What I recommend is focusing on what makes you unique and desirable, and that is never going to be how fit your body is. At the end of the day, nothing is sexier than confidence. I’d rather be talking to a guy with an average body that knows what he’s about, knows what he enjoys, and knows why he is a catch, than a guy with a homogenized muscle body that is completely lost inside. A guy who can hold a conversation is 100% more interesting than a guy with a fat ass ignoring you. You may think that a body is a prerequisite to getting attention (especially online) but it’s not the end all. Show your personality, your humor, your wittiness, your sassiness, your interests. When you start loving yourself and get to the point when you know you’re a catch regardless of how fit you are, you’re ready and dating will be much less hurtful.
It’s not an overnight process. It might take therapy, tears, friends, family, and a lot of self-discovery, but frankly, the gains you get from self-discovery and self-love last longer and get you further than muscle mass. Again, there’s nothing wrong with being fit, and I do acknowledge that we are all attracted to a certain body type, but that’s not all that makes a connection. You have to take a holistic view of your value, and realize that the bodies you see on apps are just one aspect of attraction. Sadly, they do get more attention than other bodies, but that’s not something you should envy. Every “perfect body” comes with a bucket of individualized issues and insecurities that those guys (and the guys pursuing them) will need to deal with. Come to the “dating app” table with whatever body you want and own it, realizing that it will be sexy to the right person and and combined with everything else about you, you are a catch and a half.
In closing, work out for your health, not to homogenize your body to some beauty standard that gets you nothing but extra, empty attention. The tides are turning on the “gay beauty standard,” and we all will be better served by focusing on what actually matters when it comes to ourselves and our potential partners.