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Eat Behav. 2003 Aug;4(2):107-16.

Muscularity and the gay ideal: body dissatisfaction and disordered eating in homosexual men.

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School of Psychology, Flinders University of South Australia, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide, South Australia 5001, Australia.


The present study investigated body concerns in a community sample of 52 homosexual men, as well as two comparison groups comprising 51 heterosexual men and 55 heterosexual women. Gay men were found to score significantly more highly than heterosexual men on all measures of disordered eating, and did not differ significantly from women on Drive for Thinness or Bulimia. They also scored significantly more highly than heterosexual men and women on Drive for Muscularity (a scale developed for this study), suggesting that the gay 'ideal' involves not only being thin, but also being muscular. Interestingly, however, gay men did not differ significantly from heterosexual men on body esteem, with both groups scoring higher than the women. While body esteem was found to be related to self-esteem for all of the groups, for gay men only self-esteem was negatively related to the importance to others of appearance, weight, and muscularity, perhaps reflecting increased pressure within the gay community to attain the ideal body shape.

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