Cast of Characters:
Living in the residence halls at Marshall University has put me into contact with a virtual cornucopia of diverse students and issues. Since I live in close proximity to others, I am able to find out the issues and concerns of these Queer students. Negative body image is one topic which is brought up time and time again by Queer students.
Sexy bodies are plastered all over the media. I sure do not have a drop-dead gorgeous body to show off to other people. I'm just a nice average looking man. Nothing special. However, I have much more to offer then most of the people who make up the "stand and pose" crowd. Personality is one of those assets. When I look at a person to be a possible partner, I try to look at more than just what is visible from the outside. If a man has a bad personality but a nice body, I still find him unattractive because the whole package isn't desirable.
Look at most of the gay magazines published in the United States. Page after page of good looking guys. Granted, they are pleasing to the eye, but this type of imaging causes a huge social problem since it lets our youth see images to which they can't compare. Truthfully, I have yet to see an Out Magazine pretty boy with an 8" penis come into my life. This type of man is far and few between. The only acceptable publication I have seen thus far is XY Magazine. In XY, they have nice pictures of ordinary gay guys. It's fabulous.
My friend Michael is one person who suffers from a bad body image. Granted, he is not a bulging-muscle pretty boy, but I find him to be quite attractive. He is in no way, shape, or form ugly. But he thinks he is. This feeling comes as a result of years of being pumped full of these beauty boys. He is comparing himself to a rare breed. I'm working on him so that, in the future, he will have a better self-image. I think I am making some head way towards change. It is pathetic that society has created this in him.
The damage has been done. We, as the "gay community," must make certain that we are giving our youth the proper images from which they can model their lives. Why don't you see your average looking gay boy in a mainstream publication? Because we continue to purchase magazines which send the wrong message. Our young are comparing themselves to an unachievable goal, which, in most cases, which will lead them to believe they are a failure. This type of social problem must be stopped so that we can make Queer youth feel secure and positive about their bodies and self worth. I am a strong supporter of youth and believe they should be given the best opportunity to feel positive about themselves. You are all worth it.
If you are a Queer youth struggling with a negative body image, you might want to talk to someone about your issues. It is only healthy. In closing, for all of you who are depressed or have a low body image, post this on your door and say it every morning: "No matter what anybody else says or does, I am still a worthwhile person." If you say it enough, you will begin to actually believe in your worth.
Until next month, don't do anything I wouldn't do.
Peace and Pride, Gunther Schryer,firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.gschryer.com/