New research has revealed that a large proportion of gay men have faced so-called “fat-shaming” because of their weight – even when they are not actually overweight.
The issue of body image and pressure to conform to an ideal look has long been a subject of debate in the gay community and has often been depicted in popular culture.
In an article published in Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity last month, researchers Olivia Foster-Gimbel and Renee Engeln confirmed through two studies that this is indeed a reality for many gay men.
In the first study, they found that over one third of gay men (many of whom were not overweight using common body mass index guidelines) “reported directly experiencing antifat bias.”
The most common type of antifat bias reported by the 215 gay American men that took part was rejection by potential romantic partners because of their weight.
In a follow-up study, the researchers compared gay and straight men’s expectations about how potential romantic partners would respond to being approach by an overweight man.
They found that gay men reported a greater likelihood that the overweight man would be blatantly ignored, treated rudely, or mocked behind his back if he approached an attractive potential gay romantic partner.
“These studies suggest that antifat bias is a challenge for many members of the gay community, even those who are not technically overweight,” said the researchers.
“Additionally, gay men expect other gay men to show these antifat biases when looking for a romantic partner,” they added.
Many of us are unlikely to be surprised by the results of these studies. Whether it’s on dating apps or in gay bars, particular body types remain idealised and idolised – often to the exclusion and rejection of others.
Are we overly obsessed with body image? Have you been the victim of fat-shaming? Share your thoughts below.