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Health: Body Image Issues Cause Suicidal Thoughts In One In Three LGBTQ Adults

Image credit: Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay 

Thanks to the internet and social media, it’s become easier for LGBTQ people to find attractive people to ogle. However, that very same accessibility has its own harmful side effect, as revealed by a recent survey conducted by YouGov and commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation.

According to the survey titled “Body Image,” 33 percent of LGBTQ respondents experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings because of their body image. The results are alarming, especially since only 11 percent of straight respondents experienced feeling the same.

Bisexuals, in particular, seemed the most affected, with 34 percent experiencing suicidal thoughts and 45 percent “disgusted” by their body image. Twenty-nine percent of bisexual respondents also admit to self-harm because of their body image. Fifteen percent of gay men and lesbians have done the same.

Another finding from the survey showed that more LGBTQ adults experienced anxiety and depression over their body image compared to heterosexual adults. Fifty-three percent of the LGBTQ respondents felt anxious about their body image, while 56 percent said they were depressed because of their body image. Only 33 percent of the straight respondents felt the same.

Mental Health Foundation’s Policy and Public Affairs Manager Toni Giugliano spoke to Gay Times and pointed to social media as a factor in causing body image issues among LGBTQ people.

“The main picture from our survey was one in which commercial, social media and advertising pressures on body image are contributing to mental health problems for millions of people. This social harm has been allowed to develop largely unchecked,” he said. “While there have been some positive initiatives, social media companies have frequently been unwilling to take the necessary steps to protect their users from harmful content.”

Adam4Adam blog readers, how do you maintain a positive body image in spite of the ubiquitousness of social media? Share your tips in the comments section below to help out other readers that may be going through body image issues of their own.


There are 32 comments

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    • Lamar

      . . . No, bi’s as the article reports; have the worst of it, because, they get it from both sexes, seemingly, unless I’m wrong on that, which I doubt. And gay folk tend to be the most- well, persnickety, just putting it mildly compared to reality, in fact down right, brutal.

      I think mostly, though, depending on what region; like So, Flo for instance or “Kali”,
      beach-communities, yeah, people might be more “fit conscious”, mostly = shallow, more judgmental, objectifying.

      “Gay,” does have a lot to do with it, you’re being very naïve, just saying…

    • Jonathan

      I don’t think that is fair. The author of the blog post is simply reporting data that has been presented by multiple studies as well as quotes from other sources. I can understand reviewing the data collection methods and the subjects interviewed and then finding fault with the studies themselves if they are found to be flawed, but not being critical of the person doing the reporting.

    • B.

      The whole point is that we operate and live an incredibly smaller microcosm and normal things like body image issues are concentrated and highlighted because there isn’t a wealth of images showing and celebrating our real diversity. There isn’t a gay Kevin James that’s lauded as being an “acceptable” representation of us. So, no, this article is not ‘crap’.

    • Dean

      Every day I read on HERE that gay men are so shallow when it comes to looks, etc., so yeah, just because YOU don’t feel that way doesn’t mean that MANY gay men are at greater risk for shame, trauma, or self destructive habits. Many ‘communities’ have ‘mindsets’ and sadly this community has several that can be very harmful – instead of killing the messenger, you might try supporting the moving away from such beliefs, rather than choosing sides.

    • Eric

      Did you even read the article? It’s cites specific research that shows that gay people have significantly more issues around body image than their straight counterparts.

    • Goodbrain

      Why should he be fired? What he has written in the article is the reality of the LGBT community, they are more concerned with physical appearance than with true sentimental relationships. The LGBT community is more discriminated among themselves that can suffer from other communities

  1. Nathan

    If genetics are the dominant factor, the body is as it is.

    However,

    for most of Mankind, it is our daily habits which distort our bodies and renders them unattractive. No, normal Gay or Bi-male cannot notice our culture’s ideals of attractiveness and we, all, are subject to these “Perfections.”

    Never, in all my years of living, 72 years, have I come across so many truly, unattractive Human Beings, as she on a daily basis, on every street.

    We can do much to make ourselves competitive and live, however, within the confines of our culture; whether we like it or not, what stiff a penis is attractiveness…in whatever form it takes.

    It is said that “Money Makes The World Go ‘Round”; that is necessarily truthful. It seems what engorges the penis makes the world hard…literally and figuratively.

    Pride comes first; attractiveness comes second.

  2. Hunter0500

    I’ve just never been able to fathom why I, or anyone for for that matter, should worry themselves in the least about trying to please or impress random people who aren’t a positive part of our lives. It’s like being in Middle School and desperately wanting to be part of The IN Crowd”, a group of people who are fake and fickle and who frankly don’t care a farkle about you as a person. They just want to hang with people who are pretty, wealthy, and consider themselves the popular elite for some egotistical reason. Even when I had a pretty hot young guy bod, I hung with people who were important to me because the treated me well long-term, had character and cared about more than what we had on the outside.

    Our society has made this worse by failing to teach character and copoing skills. Heaven forbid we should tell a kid how he or she should act when he or she failed, or came to realize he or she just wasn’t the smartest or prettiest or richest person on the planet. “Thats reality. And it’s OK.”

    My young guy bod has aged. Still, I’ve got multiple guys regularly wanting it and also wanting me to enjoy using it with them. How? Because I’ve cultivated good quality men to have in my life. Not a one of us is “pretty”. But we’d take a bullet for each other.

    • Nathan

      HUNTER0500:

      We are old enough to remember the introduction of the “Barbie Doll” which, quite frankly, brought the idealism of a thin-waist-girl, to the general public.

      Yes, we had MM/JM/Zsa Zsa, Eva, Magda ET AL.; however, the average person on the street did not take the goddesses for reality.

      You Remember the MM Walk; the MM Talk; the MM Look: and, the MM Feel?

      Once, Barbie was introduced, then, came the Ken Doll, and last, GI Joe. We were/still are, prisoners of our Culture… . I would put the GI Joe Doll on top of Ken Doll; it was a harbinger of WP?

      Grin & Bare it…?

  3. IceKingDick

    If you’re gonna mope about the way your appearance is, get off of your duff and get friendly with the gym circuit. Complaining and being miserable is every1’s right, but are for the basic, boorish and listless with nothing going on in their lives, and it is very counterproductive. If you can’t love yourself FIRST, how can you expect anyone else to love you?? Anyone can say whatever they want, but it’s the actions that prove otherwise. You can’t be mean to yourself, and treat someone outside of yourself, like that of royalty…too much work for the said listless, basic and boorish.

  4. Luigi Nonono

    Understand that the push for six-pack abs was led by stylists and editors of magazines trying to make money. It was never a necessity or requirement. It was sickening to see that idea take hold, along with other false concepts like zero-percent body fat, all of which are about exploitation. You must filter advertising, you must resist brainwashing by exploiters. You must distance pornography from reality. You have to know these things.

  5. DayShadow

    Not to mention you’d have to be crazy to not see the over-sexualization on this site and what that does to people in addition to being absolutely insane to ignore every ad shoving down our throats you need a 12 inch cock that stays rock hard for years along with 180lbs of straight mussle with blemish free skin or you’re inadequate. So how about you write about that instead of acting like it’s some mystery or passing the buck from what you yourselves are doing then playing stupid.

  6. just_a_dude

    @dayshadow….stfu…….if you had actually read the whole article you would know why idiot. being gay and having body issues is the point. And since this is a GAY site and the statistics show they are correlated. Stop being so cynical and angry.

  7. Sigmund

    Really? So if I gain 10 pounds I’ll become suicidal? The author must either be a social worker or psychologist trying to drum up business. Frigging BooSheet

  8. Lamar

    I’m not surprised, I occasional ‘associate’ with an alleged bi-man, yeah, he’s very conscientious/insecure about his lack of height/weight-body. He’s genetically indigenous of his
    region of South America, they have a certain build, fat to muscle ratio/shape, etc., like every other walk of life does. He’s crazy about ‘exceptionally’ tall men, like myself, plus being of African decent, very well proportioned; his fetish.

    My last relationship was with a 5’10, 200lbs+ red-head, stocky- muscular+ somewhat of a belly
    he, too, was insecure about his body image, I loved him, if, he wasn’t so fucking insecure, among other things…

    Me, I use to be, until I became older, lol.

  9. B.

    I find this site talking about body image and how it affects us a queer people incredibly disingenuous especially given the dearth of variety of bodies that they choose to use to advertise their site.

  10. Alien

    So this is why suicides go up over the holidays, Thanksgiving weight gain! Abolish turkey to save us all!

    Brought to you by the American Society of Chickens and Turkeys

  11. Kev

    This isn’t “alarming” at all. Newsflash: People are lazy. Shocker! Some guys would truly rather kill themselves than exercise and stick to a halfway healthy diet. But don’t worry, most of them won’t even bother to put in the effort it takes to off themselves.

  12. macr

    I don’t think the LGBQT is special in this. There has been a study where only 2 percent of women consider themselves truly beautiful. We as a society have to stop looking at unrealistic images of beauty and look to our genetics for real expectations. If your parents are short and we want to be “model” tall, realize that isn’t going to happen and accept it. I think we need to teach our children to accept themselves at a early age so they don’t grow into self-loathing adults. Society needs to stop looking at beauty as an “accomplishment” when most of it is genetics. We need to start honoring and truly admiring transformational accomplishments that many can reach such as an education and possibly career goals. I maintain a positive body image by recognizing that I am more than just a good picture. I eat healthy, surround myself with strong optimistic people, focus on reaching goals that make me happy. I try to set realistic expectations of what I can change and what I can’t. Overall, I love and accept me. It sounds like fairytale stuff, but I believe that self-acceptance is the beginning or root to happiness.

  13. Libertarian Queer

    When I was a young boy I went to public schools. Back then, they didn’t make a big deal out of a child’s self esteem. Fat kids knew they were fat, skinny kids knew they were skinny, smart kids knew they were smart, and dumb kids knew they were dumb. Children were taught early on there is only 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in any kind of contest be it physical or academic. There were no awards for “also ran”. Those who did well at whatever endeavor it was were recognized for it and those who didn’t received no recognition. This did a few things to those who never got to win, place, or show: It provided impetus to those who had the drive to do better to take the initiative do better and, for those who did not, it taught them their true place in the academic, athletic, or social construct of the day. Win or lose, fat or skinny, smart or dumb, children learned of their differences and became accustomed to them early on.

    In today’s world the children are given “also ran” awards just for participating. They are also coddled and told they’re special even if they aren’t. This does nothing for the true winners and sets the non-winners on a life course of expectations that are unrealistic. Later on, when life in the grown up world jumps up and slaps them in the face, they begin to learn what wasn’t taught to them early on. They begin to have emotional conflict between what they were taught to expect and life’s actual realities. To some experiencing this conflict, suicide is the answer they come up with. It’s really no surprise. Adversity used to breed character but it seems that for the last few decades adversity was to be avoided at all costs.

    • Brian

      This wasn’t a study of younger people. It also included your peers. You’re about as libertarian as a parrot.

      • Libertarian Queer

        Children grow up to be adults and my peers are in their 50s and 60s. Had you bothered to read the survey results you would have seen this: “Last year, our survey of respondents who had experienced high levels of stress revealed that 47% of 18-24-year-olds, 36% of all women, and almost one in five people (18%) aged 55+ had experienced stress over their body image to the extent of being overwhelmed and unable to cope in the last year.” It provides a clear indication of the age demographic most affected by their body image. Too bad you missed that. You would have also seen that social media images caused 40% of affected young adults to feel bad about their body image. Now you tell me, Brian, who exactly is the most affected by bodiy image shame? It damned sure isn’t my “peers”. I see deductive reasoning isn’t your strong suit….

  14. Hunter0500

    Such a so import a topic … yet unresponded to by the Blog to some 24 hours later. Hey ok if we’re out of town … Just a matter of having acolleague standing in

  15. GoodolFuckBuddy

    That’s sad. There’s already too much pressure to look good coming from the bars and the in person gay scene. But body image is something you can change. Diet. Workout. Hair dye. etc. Find people who like you as you are so you can be comfortable being you. And stay off social media or at least the sites causing the anxiety. Hetero women have suffered with body image issues forever.

  16. RAND LEE

    Thank you for this article. The body shape I have now at 68—5’7″, 330 lbs, huge lowhanging gut—was my worst nightmare come to life. But the truth is I never liked my body, even when I was much slimmer, because my macho older brother made fun of it a lot, and because all the heroes I saw on TV and the movies were the absolute opposite of me: they had muscles and veiny arms and could smoke and drink and fight and shoot guns and do sports. I on the other hand shunned competitive activities, hated cigarette smoke, was scared of drunks, and spent my time in an imaginary world filled with comic books, fantasy, science fiction.

    My earliest presexual fantasies were to find a Robin Hood to be my mentor, to be accepted into his group of Merry Men, who would protect me while teaching me how to do manly things. When I came out to myself, I sought these heroes in the gay community, and never found them: I was neither pretty enough nor athletic enough to attract most of the gay men I met. During slim periods I did get attention from some men who wanted more than a blow job from me, but I’m ashamed to say never let most of them get close to me because they didn’t fit the macho ideal of the Perfect Top I longed for.

    My point: physical self-loathing, whether you’re gay, bi, straight, or some other designation, usually starts in early childhood. That early shame needs to be felt in order to be healed, and accompanied by a decision to treat my body as well as I would were it the perfect body I always wanted. Nowadays I go out of my way to be kind to my body. I touch my belly and say, “I’m so sorry I did this to you.” I thank my body for being a noble animal friend who has carried me through life all these years despite my abuse and neglect of it; and who has let me experience, through its five senses, fragrance and color and pleasures of all kinds. And part of this decision to treat my body with respect has led me to show online on gay personals sites photos of myself as I really look. It’s my way of saying to my inner abuser, “I’m sexy as hell and fat feels good in bed., and if you can’t appreciate that it’s your loss.”

    • Hunter4B

      You search for what you need outside of yourself, but when I read this you finally accepted yourself as you are. So it would seem YOU are your own Robin Hood, you are your own Super Hero . . . so now, all that is left to do, is test your own super powers. Don’t apologize, and don’t accept what you do not like, just as you did not love the Perfect Tops you spoke of (they were products of the same battles you were having). Don’t you see, if gay men respected gay men, we would be better friends and MORE supportive of our community, for we are the only ones who understand how difficult it is to be truly honest to and reliant on ourselves (especially when straight men get lifted and supported for similar types of self-destructive behavior, ). A good friend on here found himself 340 lbs, and hated it. He knew he could not get to Perfection because of bad habits, work, time, etc., SO, he settled for what he could do: he cut out fat, reduced calories, made wiser choices, and over a year of minor changes and massive efforts, he cleaned up his act significantly. He’s 280 but honestly looks a handsome 230, but mostly, as you stated he exudes confidence. You sound like a wise man, you seem to have come to terms with that inner child and abuse. So, I’ll ask you now, WHY don’t you let your inner hero help that child be the man he can be? at 68 you could have 30 more great years. Go be great super man

  17. Jim

    as a bi bigger guy I can say I have been there. It is so difficult to get an attractive guy to look your way if you are not a thin muscular guy. I have an ad on a site that is specifically for bigger bears and still having a hard time. I have been working on bringing my weight down for health reasons, but also feel like I have to if I hope to stand a chance at catching a guys eye. it can be really depressing at times.

  18. Jay

    There’s 2 or 3 people in this thread who just didn’t read the entire article, or only just read the headline.

    Based off my personal experience, body image was always an issue in the gay community, post 21-century (only speaking for gay men). If it isn’t steroids, it’s anorexia. This was before social media: remember HX and Next Magazine, and the influential and overwhelming images those zines projected? Gay men let these media projections dictate and influence lifestyle and who they should accept and engage in relationships with, and by doing this, many others get left out. This is why so many of us are left with these body issues. I’m never satisfied with my physical shape and realize that I may ‘never get there’ despite lifting 6-7x a week and modifying my diet to no end.

    I think quite a few of us who felt this way about their own bodies while in the gay rat race, would be liars if we say that the thought never crossed our minds. But how I keep my head above water is by continuing to stay active and enjoying the routine, not giving up my goals, simply that. For every guy that rejects me for my superficial imperfections, there is another guy who acknowledges my hard work in the gym thus far and who also makes the reasonable amount of effort to get to know me beyond my body.

  19. Dougland

    There are so many thought provoking realities and ideas presented from the body image article. And true, at 61 i relate to the facts that in my youth, if you wanted an award, an a+, or any other recognition…..you worked for it. You studied, you practiced, you tried and you learned. In real competitions there could always be someone smarter, more talented, more experienced so you just had to deal with that and learn to move on or try harder.
    Personally, to me, the fact that anyone makes it to the Olympics, makes the chorus, band, student council…..etc. makes them all winners to me. I dont buy into gold medal is the only one who matters. That’s forced on the populace by
    money makers. But i also dont believe it’s healthy to just hand out random gold stars.
    And the truth is, there is someone or several for everyone. It’s a matter of time, honesty, patience abd TRUTH. So perhaps it isnt complety about body image. The real beauty in some men is confidence and truth. I’ve been with some knock out sexy guys who were real turn offs because they werent up front what they wanted and selfish in behaviour.
    Sadly, the internet and these sites, (‘m sure for all humans), allows too many people to hide, to present a false image idea, or a way to seek approval when not really looking to hook up. It’s not the social skills we learned in real life contact at a bar, on the street , at a laundry matt.
    And so, when in a hopeful conversation you are suddenly left dangling, which known or unknown is selfesh and rude, well, you just have no point of reference and it may appear you’ve been dished. It may not be that at all, but you just dont know. That may feel like rejection. If the person doesnt bother to offer an explanation later, well, not worth pursuing. And not to be taken personly. But perhaps maybe todays society needs to have some honest, truthful people to trust and look up to. And gentlemen, ladies, those people are not cover models, porn stars in general or other beauty ideals supported by industry. The truth is many female models from the past were malnurished. But photography makes bodies look bigger than they are. So does make up. Many models are pinned in ways a cover doesnt show. And not all porn stars are as big as they look. It’s an industry that propels a beauty myth to sell magazines, paperback books, products, clothes but not everday mortal living.
    I must stop because as you see here, this is all a subject that is more intense and deeper and psychogical than a forum or blog can cover. It’s a vast, deep, sociological process that would take a long time to dissect, discover and heal from. And, do that many people care to do or admit what it takes to reach that healing?
    But this article is a way to open a door to ideas, conversation and hopefully, some people will think about what is presented and find it within themselves to think twice about what we see or say and be kinder and more respectful to themselves and others. And some just dont give a fuck either way. Oh well.


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