While in wider society it’s often women who bear the brunt of society’s expectations about physical appearance, in the gay world men can find themselves just as caught up in obsessing about how we look. Gay subcultures can be extremely image obsessed – not only about weight, but about muscle, and about youth. So while on the one hand gay men often look after their bodies better than straight men do, this can move over to becoming unhealthily obsessed about our weight, or how much muscle we have. Here are the three big signs that your desire for physical health has become – well, unhealthy.
1 Spending too much time in the gym
If you miss a work out, do you stress about it for the rest of the day? Or do you simply NEVER miss a workout, no matter what else is going on in your life? Sometimes, our bodies tell us they need to rest, to relax. TO not give ourselves this time is a sign we’re becoming so obsessed over our ideas of perfection that we’re forgetting to truly look after ourselves.
2 Obsessing over food
It’s good to strive for a healthy diet – and if you’re watching your weight then it can be a clever move to count your calories. But if you let this take over your life – so that you never allow yourself a slice of cake at a party, or a drink to celebrate with friends – then you might want to question if you’re attitude to food really is healthy. Yes, food should be nutritious – but it should also be enjoyable, and eating isn’t always about health – it can be about friends, and family, and good times.
3 Obsessing over fat (that no one else can see!)
Complaining about your weight, spending time in front of the mirror analyzing where you think you have too much fat and being convinced you need to lose weight – even when people tell you you’re fine – is a sure warning sign that you’re being too hard on yourself. It’s OK to want to lose weight – but we should also strive to be happy with the bodies we have, in the time we have.
Of course, we might experience one of these from time to time – but constantly experiencing all three is a sign there could be something very wrong in the way we’re viewing ourselves. So what to do?
Ultimately, the problems around body image all feed of the belief that we are somehow defective, or deficient. The best way to combat these unhealthy behaviors is to nurture a sense of worth within ourselves. It’s too easy to look in a mirror and see the bits we don’t like – why not try looking for the parts of us we do like?
Or even trying to remember that no matter what we or others think, our bodies are *ours*, they are unique and it is that uniqueness which makes us and life interesting? So while we can still want to maybe shed or add a few pounds, it’s wise to remember that what we have right now, right here is special, too. And that life is better when you allow yourself a slice of cake!