How body ideals shape the health of gay men

Phillip Joy, Dalhousie University and Matthew Numer, Dalhousie University

Gay men currently receive little research attention when it comes to health issues such as eating disorders and other body image concerns. Yet expectations are high for gay men, as the western ideal masculine body is muscular and fat free. Evidence also indicates that there are unique concerns for LGBTQ people relating to nutrition and obesity, and that tailored programs can improve overall health outcomes for gay men. Our research shows that social demands placed upon gay men to eat healthily and achieve a perfect body are linked to anxiety and depression and have serious mental health consequences. And that health researchers and practitioners need to challenge beauty standards among diverse groups of men through conversations, connections and support.