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Fatphobia In The LGBT Community

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Gay Men Issues – In our movements for queer liberation, there are often people who remain underrepresented by the mainstream narratives, even though they belong in the LGBTQ Community and are affected by most of the issues LGBTQ people have to face. That mainstream narrative is often shaped based on different standards that determine the “default” picture of a queer person. Those standards often have to do with normative and limiting perceptions of ability, race, gender representation, religion, and appearance.

 

In sum, how your body looks may often undergo scrutiny, criticism, or even determine whether you’ll be accepted by your own people.

 

Fat shaming is an issue that still persist both within and out of the LGBTQ Community. Although it would only make sense for our community to be embracing and accepting of all different bodies and physical appearances, fatphobia is one of the most “acceptable” and well-disguised forms of discrimination, that persists even among queer people.

 

 

Gay Men Issues: Fatphobia In The LGBT Community

Gay Men Issues: Fatphobia In The LGBT Community

Take gay dating apps, and the “no fats, no fems, no Asians” kind of descriptions on dating profiles. Dating preferences are political. “Who we like” is often more complex than it sounds. Attraction is indeed a partly subjective, personal, and innate thing, but it is also largely constructed by socially constructed standards of beauty that are often narrow-minded and based on norms that dictate who is attractive by default – norms which can be racist, ableist, cisnormative, heteronormative, and body-negative.

Fatphobia still exists and defines most aspects of our lives, no matter what our bodies look like, just because we have been taught to think in a certain way. Fatphobia can be either completely conscious or internalized. It can be manifested either in the form of pure bullying and its devastating effects, or in the form of well-meaning concern for other people’s health, whether their lifestyle is more unhealthy than the norm, or not. Fatphobia still largely defines queer identities, often intersecting with heteronormativity, fatphobia, sexism, and racism.

 

The mainstream media represents queer males, females, and non-binary people (if ever), mainly as white, able-bodied, thin and conventionally attractive. However, this is a very limiting and misrepresenting view of queerness. We don’t look like that; our community is far more diverse. The default image of the fit, muscular gay man is not representative, neither of the entire LGBTQIA+ Community, nor of the very diverse community of gay men.

 

So, why is masculinity often portrayed in such a limiting way, and why is there so much pressure on gay men to look like Abercrombie and Fitch models?

Fat shaming in the gay community has many roots: homophobia (yes, internalized homophobia even in the gay community) because men are often judged against certain standards of masculinity, that include heterosexuality as the norm. Misogyny, because the ideal of fit, strong masculinity is often by those demonized traits that are considered more “feminine”. Fatphobia, discrimination against fat people encouraged by the medical, popular, and fashion discourse, which equates fatness with an unhealthy lifestyle and fitness, mistakenly, with health.

As explained in this article, there is a difference between masculinity – which is not a bad thing in itself – and toxic masculinity, which promotes a monolithic model for what it means to be a “Real Man”, to be “manly enough”. Toxic masculinity also sees what is considered to be stereotypical masculine traits – such as emotional and physical strength, “logic and facts”, social power, directedness or a sense of leadership – as superior to stereotypically feminine traits – physical weakness, a prioritization of emotions over logic, impulsivity, dependency etc.

There is no such thing as a “real” or a “fake” man and nobody should have to cross out things in an unrealistic checklist in order to properly fit in the category of men. However, men are measured up against oppressive standards, even within the queer community which is supposed to be accepting and inclusive of all different experiences, journeys, bodies, and expressions.

Gay Men Issues: Fatphobia In The LGBT Community

Gay Men Issues: Fatphobia In The LGBT Community

Gay men invest a lot in fitness and exercising, often in order to fit into a certain perception of masculinity that balances out their homosexuality in the way it is viewed by society. Fatphobia largely affects women, and it is an issue that should concern feminism a lot, but our feminism should extend to other genders as well: men can and do deal with eating disorders, body negativity, and a lot of harmful pressure to fit their appearance into a norm. In fact, Gay men with eating disorders equal 42% of the total of men with eating disorders.

Some gay sub-communities like Bears do seem more receptive towards a diversity of bodies, but closeups of abs and biceps continue to dominate gay dating profiles. Dr. Jason Whitesel of Pace University wrote in 2014 that queer men have a hard time fitting even in those gay subcultures. Many gay men view fatness as embarrassing and wish to disconnect from its notion and connotations.

 

According to a research carried out by Olivia Foster-Gimbel and Renee Engeln, one-third of the gay men questioned – whether they medically classified as overweight or not – reported having experienced “anti-fat bias”, being rejected by potential romantic partners on the basis of their weight, as well as being bullied and ignored. Gay men experience ignorance and disrespect about their weight, which is often demonstrated in ways that terribly harm the individual and his self-confidence. Sometimes the bullying gay fat men face has more to do with their bodies than with their sexual orientation. This article draws parallels between the “war against obesity” as a lifestyle, and the war against homosexuality in both medical and popular discourse.

 

We need to fight against fatphobia and fat shaming in out LGBTQ-supportive circles, and celebrate every beautiful body, the story and the experiences that encircle it. All bodies are beautiful, health and aspiring to be healthy are arbitrary things that should not be synonymous to thinness, and queer spaces cannot afford to perpetuate society’s oppressive mechanisms and discriminatory ideas.

Gay Men Issues: Fatphobia In The LGBT Community

Gay Men Issues: Fatphobia In The LGBT Community

In our movements for queer liberation, there are often people who remain underrepresented by the mainstream narratives, even though they belong in the LGBTQ Community and are affected by most of the issues LGBTQ people have to face. That mainstream narrative is often shaped based on different standards that determine the “default” picture of a queer person. Those standards often have to do with normative and limiting perceptions of ability, race, gender representation, religion, and appearance.

In sum, how your body looks may often undergo scrutiny, criticism, or even determine whether you’ll be accepted by your own people.

Fat shaming is an issue that still persist both within and out of the LGBTQ Community. Although it would only make sense for our community to be embracing and accepting of all different bodies and physical appearances, fatphobia is one of the most “acceptable” and well-disguised forms of discrimination, that persists even among queer people.

Take gay dating apps, and the “no fats, no fems, no Asians” kind of descriptions on dating profiles. Dating preferences are political. “Who we like” is often more complex than it sounds. Attraction is indeed a partly subjective, personal, and innate thing, but it is also largely constructed by socially constructed standards of beauty that are often narrow-minded and based on norms that dictate who is attractive by default – norms which can be racist, ableist, cisnormative, heteronormative, and body-negative.

Fatphobia still exists and defines most aspects of our lives, no matter what our bodies look like, just because we have been taught to think in a certain way. Fatphobia can be either completely conscious or internalized. It can be manifested either in the form of pure bullying and its devastating effects, or in the form of well-meaning concern for other people’s health, whether their lifestyle is more unhealthy than the norm, or not. Fatphobia still largely defines queer identities, often intersecting with heteronormativity, fatphobia, sexism, and racism.

 

The mainstream media represents queer males, females, and non-binary people (if ever), mainly as white, able-bodied, thin and conventionally attractive. However, this is a very limiting and misrepresenting view of queerness. We don’t look like that; our community is far more diverse. The default image of the fit, muscular gay man is not representative, neither of the entire LGBTQIA+ Community, nor of the very diverse community of gay men.

 

So, why is masculinity often portrayed in such a limiting way, and why is there so much pressure on gay men to look like Abercrombie and Fitch models?

 

Gay Men Issues: Fatphobia In The LGBT Community

Fat shaming in the gay community has many roots: homophobia (yes, internalized homophobia even in the gay community) because men are often judged against certain standards of masculinity, that include heterosexuality as the norm. Misogyny, because the ideal of fit, strong masculinity is often by those demonized traits that are considered more “feminine”. Fatphobia, discrimination against fat people encouraged by the medical, popular, and fashion discourse, which equates fatness with an unhealthy lifestyle and fitness, mistakenly, with health.

 

As explained in this article, there is a difference between masculinity – which is not a bad thing in itself – and toxic masculinity, which promotes a monolithic model for what it means to be a “Real Man”, to be “manly enough”. Toxic masculinity also sees what is considered to be stereotypical masculine traits – such as emotional and physical strength, “logic and facts”, social power, directedness or a sense of leadership – as superior to stereotypically feminine traits – physical weakness, a prioritization of emotions over logic, impulsivity, dependency etc.

 

There is no such thing as a “real” or a “fake” man and nobody should have to cross out things in an unrealistic checklist in order to properly fit in the category of men. However, men are measured up against oppressive standards, even within the queer community which is supposed to be accepting and inclusive of all different experiences, journeys, bodies, and expressions.

Gay Men Issues: Fatphobia In The LGBT Community

Gay Men Issues: Fatphobia In The LGBT Community

Gay men invest a lot in fitness and exercising, often in order to fit into a certain perception of masculinity that balances out their homosexuality in the way it is viewed by society. Fatphobia largely affects women, and it is an issue that should concern feminism a lot, but our feminism should extend to other genders as well: men can and do deal with eating disorders, body negativity, and a lot of harmful pressure to fit their appearance into a norm. In fact, Gay men with eating disorders equal 42% of the total of men with eating disorders.

Some gay sub-communities like Bears do seem more receptive towards a diversity of bodies, but closeups of abs and biceps continue to dominate gay dating profiles. Dr. Jason Whitesel of Pace University wrote in 2014 that queer men have a hard time fitting even in those gay subcultures. Many gay men view fatness as embarrassing and wish to disconnect from its notion and connotations.

 

Gay Men Issues: Fatphobia In The LGBT Community

Gay Men Issues: Fatphobia In The LGBT Community

According to a research carried out by Olivia Foster-Gimbel and Renee Engeln, one-third of the gay men questioned – whether they medically classified as overweight or not – reported having experienced “anti-fat bias”, being rejected by potential romantic partners on the basis of their weight, as well as being bullied and ignored. Gay men experience ignorance and disrespect about their weight, which is often demonstrated in ways that terribly harm the individual and his self-confidence. Sometimes the bullying gay fat men face has more to do with their bodies than with their sexual orientation. This article draws parallels between the “war against obesity” as a lifestyle, and the war against homosexuality in both medical and popular discourse.

 

Gay Men Issues: Fatphobia In The LGBT Community

Gay Men Issues: Fatphobia In The LGBT Community

We need to fight against fatphobia and fat shaming in out LGBTQ-supportive circles, and celebrate every beautiful body, the story and the experiences that encircle it. All bodies are beautiful, health and aspiring to be healthy are arbitrary things that should not be synonymous to thinness, and queer spaces cannot afford to perpetuate society’s oppressive mechanisms and discriminatory ideas.

 

Our communities are supposed to educate and get educated, to embrace all their members, respect their life choices when these harm no one, and stand together against social oppression that leads to mental health issues, eating disorders and self-harm. We need to stand united and support each other, and the beauty in our diversity.

 

 

Our communities are supposed to educate and get educated, to embrace all their members, respect their life choices when these harm no one, and stand together against social oppression that leads to mental health issues, eating disorders and self-harm. We need to stand united and support each other, and the beauty in our diversity.

Gay Men Issues: Fatphobia In The LGBT Community

Gay Men Issues: Fatphobia In The LGBT Community

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