Should We Agree With 'Why The Gays Hate Their Bodies'?
The handsome young fellow on the left is Orlando Soria, a writer who considers himself "the chunkiest person around" and "fat by West Hollywood standards."
His recent article "Why The Gays Hate Their Bodies" has gone viral with its examination of how neurosis, the male competitive drive and sexy bartenders all contribute to the idea that gays should have perfect, underwear model bodies.
Predictably, Soria has gotten some flack in speaking for all gay men and for perpetuating the very stereotypes and images he rails against.
No, not all of us are slender neurotics with in-shape friends who obsess over our boyfriends' bodies and work out as a hobby. But Soria does have a point—mainstream media besieges men with unrealistic, unattainable depictions of male beauty, just as it has done with women for over a century.
The effect is undeniable—insecurity, the fuel that drives the engine of advertising; all of us left overcompensating in an evolutionary competition for companionship. But his point is hardly revelatory and doesn't help break the cycle.
Despite speaking for "the gays," Soria acknowledges that he's just a white Ivy Leaguer with images of WeHo dancing in his head. Meanwhile, some of us are black, Asian, Latino and other races from different economic and educational backgrounds that don't spend as much time in the gyms, bars and brunches that Soria seems to.
Furthermore, some of us concentrate on other aspects of the self—art, friendships, family, work, love—and realize that endless body obsession and treadmill running both detract from our confidence and fulfillment in other areas of our lives.
If anything Soria's article points to two larger truths:
First, that gay men of every stripe owe it to ourselves to create and embrace images of the human form at all ages, weights and states of health—we will each turn old, sick and heavy at some point and we'd do better to admire it than fear it.
And second, in order to improve our physical health, we must first improve our mental health by valuing the full spectrum of personal gifts and talents we and others have, not just whether we look good with our shirts off.
Because ultimately, as we collectively age, gain weight and go bald, each of us will only be left with our minds, souls and memories as companionship, with only old photographs reminding us of how we wished we'd loved ourselves and others more in our younger days.