The Tyranny of Buffness

How happy are you with your body?

Few topics are as universally anxiety-inducing for gay men as how we look in the mirror. So reviled is body fat that we’re three times more likely to develop eating disorders; so revered is muscle mass that (as a result of arguably western influences) we’re more likely to suffer from body dysmorphia.

The standards are ubiquitous, and universally understood: You’re not beautiful if you’re fat. You’re not hot if you’re skinny.  And if you’re a skinny-fat gaysian – God forbid!

This week, I’d I thought we’d examine some of the complicated, and often negative, relationships we have with our bodies, starting with this article from The Atlantic entitled “The Tyranny of Buffness.”

gayforbatwings (Andrew)

Some highlights:

I began to panic. This was the first night my boyfriend saw me naked. He had that godlike body to offer me–and all I could give him was … was this hairy, lovehandley mess of skin?

I went back to the bedroom and turned off every light in the house on my way there.

We often take for granted that muscularity signifies both physical and emotional strength. In gay communities, he says, muscle means something very specific – such as “a sense of control … [and] an air of resilience.”

According to a 2012 LGBT community survey, a higher percentage of gays than straights pay for gym memberships, personal trainers, and weight management programs. This is great for those who can afford such things–but what about those who can’t?

The Russian put me on a strict diet after our first night together… In five weeks I lost 30 pounds. One year later, I lost him.

To the photographer, the blemish inhibits a subject’s beauty. To the poet, the blemish is what makes him beautiful.

The Tyranny of Buffness


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