Body-Image Dissatisfaction in Gay Versus Heterosexual Men

Department of Psychiatry, Innsbruck University Hospital, Innsbruck, Austria.
The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 5.5). 12/2004; 65(11):1555-8. DOI: 10.4088/JCP.v65n1119
Source: PubMed


Gay men are thought to experience body-image concerns or disorders more frequently than heterosexual men. It is unclear, however, whether these putative concerns are due to unrealistic body ideals (aspiring to a body shape that is difficult or impossible to attain), body-image distortion (misperceiving the actual shape of one's body), or both.
We administered a well-established computerized body-image test, the "somatomorphic matrix," to 37 gay men recruited from the community in April 1999 and compared the results with previous data from 49 community-recruited heterosexual comparison men and 24 clinic-recruited heterosexual men with eating disorders.
Gay men were indistinguishable from the community-recruited heterosexual comparison men on measures of both body ideals and body-image distortion. By contrast, eating-disordered men were significantly distinguishable from both other groups on body-image distortion. The lack of differences between community gay and heterosexual men on body-image indices seems unlikely to represent a type II error, since the somatomorphic matrix showed ample power to detect abnormalities in the eating-disordered men, despite the smaller sample size of the latter group.
Contrary to our hypotheses, gay men did not differ significantly from heterosexual men on measures of body image. These unexpected findings cast doubt on the widespread belief that gay men experience greater body-image dissatisfaction than heterosexual men. If our findings are valid, it follows that some previous studies of body image in gay men may possibly have been influenced by selection bias.

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    • "Internet research project evaluating consumption of fitness magazines and pornography indices 30. Hausmann et al. [47] Austria, Innsbruck April 1999 Community recruited adult men, total 110 subjects (37 gay, 73 heterosexual) (30.1 AE 2.3) Computerized body-image test and somatomorphic matrix 31. Abbot et al. [40] [41] UK, urban areas 1999, 2005 Patients with cystic fibrosis, total 221 subjects (104 male, 117 female) [51] and 291 patients with enteral tube feeding or supplementary nutritional intervention [49] "
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    ABSTRACT: Some reports indicate that in various groups of society living in the highly developed countries a body weight perception and weight satisfaction tend to be inappropriate when compared with body mass index (BMI) calculated from estimated actual weight and height. Thus in present studies a relationship between body weight perceptions, measured actual BMI, gender, and dieting practices in a sample population of pharmacy students in Poland were examined to verify hypothesis that their incorrect self-perception would provoke occasional, seasonal and permanent eating disorders. Height and weight data of 178 pharmacy students (mean age 22.6+/-2.4 years) in Bydgoszcz, Poland, were collected and validated by completed self-reported questionnaire assessing their self-perceived body weight, desired body weight and past/current dieting practices. Only 34.4% of female and 37.1% of male pharmacy students was satisfied with their current body weight. Statistical analyses revealed significant differences in estimated BMI status (chi(2)=28.5; p=0.0001), desired body weight (chi(2)=15.6; p=0.0004) and past dieting (chi(2)=7.6; p=0.0050) by gender. In the male sub-group of students (n=27) unclear association (chi(2)=6.1; p=0.046) between measured actual BMI status and self-perceived body weight have been presented. Moreover, in male students a significant relationship (chi(2)=4.9; p=0.0261) between actual BMI status and both past as well as current weight control behavior in the form of dieting practices was exhibited. In case of a sub-group of female students (n=151) a diffuse association of actual BMI and self-perception of their body weight (chi(2)=69.5; p=0.0001) was obtained. However, a close relation (chi(2)=16.9; p=0.0007) between actual BMI and only past dieting practices was observed in females. Furthermore, in this last sub-group of students the significant relationship (chi(2)=53.9; p=0.0001) between measured actual BMI and desired body weight was also demonstrated. The study showed an evidence of distorted self-perception of body weight in both sub-groups of considered pharmacy students. There was a tendency to overestimate of body weight in female students, and to underestimate in male students. These results suggest common dissatisfaction of body weight, especially among females, who were more often engaged in dieting, despite not being overweight or obese according to measured actual BMI status.
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    • "There is mixed evidence regarding significant differences in body satisfaction of gay and straight males, with some studies finding no significant differences (e.g. Boroughs and Thompson 2002; King and Fletcher 2003; Hausmann et al. 2004), and other studies finding gay males more dissatisfied than straight males (e.g., Beren et al. 1996; Kaminski et al. 2005; Lakkis et al. 1999; Silberstein et al. 1989; Strong et al. 2000; Williamson and Hartley 1998). Within the gay culture of Sydney, where stereotyped images of the ideal body abound, gay men may exhibit more body dissatisfaction than straight men, even through their femininity scores may be higher. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study compared 80 gay and straight Australian males on self report measures of body satisfaction, masculinity, femininity, narcissism, and reasons for exercising at gyms to explore factors related to excessive exercise. Gay males are less satisfied with their bodies compared to straight males. Improving appearance was more important for gay men, while fun was considered more important for straight men. Only sexual orientation and masculinity contributed independently to body satisfaction. Straight males who scored high on masculinity were most satisfied with their bodies, while gay males who scored low on masculinity were least satisfied with their bodies, irrespective of femininity and narcissism. Hours exercising per week and fun as a reason for exercising, significantly contributed to body satisfaction.
    Sex Roles 07/2008; 59(1):94-106. DOI:10.1007/s11199-008-9416-4 · 1.47 Impact Factor
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    • " Ramirez 1998). Although there is some overlap in terms of both producing potentially negative mental and physical impacts and the misconception that they both only affect women or gay men, these two pathologies need to be examined separately as the etiologies and diagnostic criteria are quite different. The danger with this, as can be seen in the Hausmann et. al (2004) study, is that males with eating disorders seem to have a higher rate of body dissatisfaction, which may distort results when eating disordered men are grouped in research studies with men suffering from BDD. Furthermore, within the limited research conducted where the focus of the body-image or BDD research is limited to males without "

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