In my quest to defeat my own body dysmorphia, this is a question I have given A LOT of thought. In my most honest, honest, honest, most honest, objective opinion possible, my answer is ‘no,’ I do not think we are a shallow community.
I do think there are some human beings who are very shallow. And being shallow is not about gender or sexual orientation or race or any of it. Being shallow is a human trait, not a gay trait. Now, that being said, I also have to honor the fact that we, as gay men, can experience it a little more.
I totally believe that we do have the whole ‘peter pan’ syndrome thing. We don’t have the same social expectations as straight men to settle down, get married, and have kids. Thus, we get to have a more youthful approach to life for way longer (and for some guys…always).
This is a double edged sword. I love that we get to have fun adventures and enjoy the more entertaining side of life. But with youth comes immaturity. And with immaturity comes some silly things like vanity and superficial focuses. So, yes, there could definitely be more people behaving shallow in our community.
But here’s why I do NOT think we are a shallow community. Those shallow people? They are the minority. They are a small fraction of our community. The majority of us are normal people with normal bodies and normal insecurities who aren’t jerks. So why does the shallowness feel so overwhelming?
I think the first part of it is due to marketing, Hollywood, and pornography. It’s the same things that make women feel self-conscious. Society at large is mirroring images of ‘perfect bodies.’ And because we do have a fascination with it (being that we don’t encounter such bodies often in daily lives), the marketing/Hollywood/pornography uses it as an easy way to get our attention.
And by continually seeing this, we start to personalize the fact that our bodies are not that way. It tricks our brain into thinking a muscle body is the norm rather than the normal body. Combine that with those few shallow assholes on the gay apps, and suddenly we feel as this is all that our gay community is about. But I think these are just mind-fucks that we internalize.
I truly, whole-heartedly believe that if we want to heal our body-image-issues, we have to start with our own psychology and learn how to move beyond all of this. Because here is a bigger issue: the more we label our community as “shallow,” the more we are stigmatizing our own community in yet another way. We end up doing just as much damage as we think those shallow folks are doing to us.
Also, we cannot heal ourselves this way: pointing fingers at those who are behaving badly. We won’t be able to change them ever, but we can change ourselves and our outlook and even our own bodies if we want to.
We also cannot create positive change for ourselves through negative energy (and calling others ‘shallow’ is certainly negative). Blaming others who make us feel shitty is WAY easier than working on ourselves, but it also still leaves us feeling shitty.
And here’s one last thing that people REALLY need to know: all those shallow guys who have muscle bodies? They are hurting deep inside just like the rest of us. Trust me on this one. A confident person doesn’t need to put others down. And a confident person definitely doesn’t need to jab a needle full of black market chemicals in their ass just so they can have muscles.
So, when that guy is a dick to you on Grindr, remember… that is only one person, not everyone. And feel sorry for him! Happy people don’t need to be shitty to others. They are obviously miserable in their own lives (remember those black market chemicals).
Know in your heart that you are better than him (assuming you do not do the same to others). And the more you love your body, the more others will love it too. The more you hate it, the more others will sense that too.