Body-image dissatisfaction in gay versus heterosexual men: is there really a difference?

Department of Psychiatry, Innsbruck University Hospital, Innsbruck, Austria.
The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 5.81). 12/2004; 65(11):1555-8. DOI: 10.4088/JCP.v65n1119
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT 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.

  • The Journal of Men's Studies. 01/2007; 15(3):331-346.
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    ABSTRACT: Little is known about how fathers of patients with eating disorders perceive their own body. In this study we investigated body image perception of patients with anorexia and bulimia nervosa and body image perception of their fathers in a computer assisted approach. A computer program, the somatomorphic matrix, is presented that allows modeling of perceived and desired body-images of patients and their relatives. Patients and fathers rated their own body images and fathers additionally rated the body images of their daughters. The images implemented in the program correspond with defined percentages of body fat and muscularity. Selected images were compared with subjects' anthropometric data regarding body fat and muscularity. Data from 42 father-daughter-dyads (27 patients with anorexia, 15 with bulimia nervosa) were examined. Differences between both diagnostic groups were compared and associations between fathers' and daughters' body image perceptions within each group were investigated. Patients with anorexia nervosa overestimated their bodies on the body fat dimension. Patients with bulimia nervosa wished to have a body with less fat. Fathers of both groups of patients perceived their own bodies correctly but wished to have less body fat and to be more muscular. The wish for a change in body fat of anorexia nervosa patients was highly correlated with fathers' BMI (r=0.49; p=0.009). The wish for a change in body fat of bulimia nervosa patients was correlated with fathers' distorted body image perception in terms of muscularity (r=-0.66, p=0.007) and with fathers' wish for a more muscular body (r=-0.51, p=0.05). Body images of patients with eating disorders and their fathers are related in the group of patients with bulimia nervosa. Perhaps, body images of fathers should be addressed in family therapy with patients with bulimia nervosa.
    Eating and weight disorders: EWD 04/2007; 12(1):12-9. · 0.53 Impact Factor
  • International Journal of Men s Health 07/2008; 7(2):157-170.

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