Body Image, Drinking and the Gay Community

Body Image, Drinking and the Gay CommunityBody image is the mental representation a person has of her physical appearance. An accurate and healthy body image will influence a person’s self-esteem and confidence, which ultimately factors into how an individual treats herself and behaves. However, a poor body image can lead people to abuse alcohol to feel better about themselves, and the gay community may fall prey to this trap more so than people of sexual orientation.

Unhealthy Body Images in the Gay Community

The gay community is all too familiar with body image issues. Recent studies from ColumbiaUniversity report that gay men are three times more likely to have an eating disorder than heterosexual men. As the poster boy of the gay community is a tan, chiseled and waxed body, this image sets the standard for all other gay individuals who seek acceptance. The pressure to achieve and maintain a certain look or body type is intense in the gay community, because these individuals feel extreme pressure for acceptance since many gay individuals struggle with isolation, abandonment or rejection. Having a place to be themselves and becomes especially important, which may affect their frustration over their bodies.

LGBT individuals face many challenges when it comes to sexual identity. These individuals may have endured discrimination, hatred or bullying, may have lived a secret or double-life due to family values or they may have experienced shame, guilt, confusion and anger. Self-hatred and low self- worth are issues that commonly result when an individual’s identity is in question, and these issues can contribute to a horrible body image. When a gay individual finally feels acceptance, fitting in seems detrimental if it involves terrible body ideas. To fit the standards of the gay community, individuals will make every attempt to look and act the part, even if it involves unhealthy eating behaviors, over-exercising, dramatically changing one’s appearance or making significant lifestyle changes. When an individual’s body image is based on the views of others, many problems may result.

How Poor Body Image Can Influence Drinking in the Gay Community

Poor body images can add to the massive problem of drinking in the gay community. Recreational alcohol abuse is ferociously high in the gay community, because these people drink to cope with discrimination, negative emotions and the intense desire for acceptance. Gay bars are among the first places where gay people can socialize in a gay-friendly environment. With a bar or nightclub being the central hub for the gay community, it is only natural that drinking embeds itself into the gay community. It doesn’t help that alcohol reduces inhibitions and numbs painful emotions that many gay individuals cannot cope with healthily. Poor body image and self-esteem can cause a gay person to seek out alcohol to forget stress and emotional pain. Feeling uncomfortable in one’s skin can create a painful and confusing life, increase the risk for substance abuse, eating disorders and mental health problems and lead to depression, anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorder.

Help for Addiction and Body Image Issues

If you are looking for gay-friendly treatment for alcoholism and body image issues, please call our toll-free helpline now. Our recovery professionals can speak with you 24 hours a day whether you have questions, need information or would like help finding the treatment that is right for you.