I’ve just sat down at a coffee shop in Shoreditch next to two guys who are gossiping about love and sex. They’re scrolling through Grindr and talking about the people they’ve had sex with, dropping juicy details about who was into what, how many times they had sex with so-in-so and what it was like. Cool! I always tend to eavesdrop when anybody talks about sex in public, so be warned about that, but things got really interesting when one of the two started talking about how he didn’t like what he saw when he looked in the mirror.
“I don’t like going to gay clubs because I think I’m ugly. That’s why I use Tinder and Grindr. I don’t like being around guys who are hotter and more masculine than I am.”
“Don’t say that!” his friend said.
He continues. “No but it’s true. I hate what I see when I look in the mirror.”
It all feels a bit contradictory because from the tone of the conversation it sounds like they’re both having a ton of sex, but sometimes people use sex to build their confidence. If you’re having a lot of sex with lots of different people you must feel pretty awesome about yourself, right?
I listened to their conversation because I think the fear of never being hot enough reveals a big concern that many gay men have but never actually talk about: body image issues.
We want to accept ourselves but sometimes we just don’t know how.
Body image issues feel multiplied in the age of the screen. Contemporary life is ruled by screens, notifications and image grids. How many times have you checked the number of “likes” you got on a selfie or felt validated because you had 7,000 Grindr messages waiting for you or sad that nobody responded to you?
Part of dealing with image issues is to understand that they are not your fault. You’re fine just the way you are, but the beauty industry really wants you to think otherwise. We’re constantly told we could have blemish free faces, lighter skin, tighter skin, longer hair, more hair, less fat, more muscle, a better butt, hotter abs, and so on.
If you didn’t think there was something infinitely wrong with you or if you didn’t always want to look better then you wouldn’t spend money on self-improvement and then where would Proactive Solution be?
I really wanted to reach over to the two guys at the table next to me and tell them that it would be okay, that nobody should base their self-worth on whether someone wants us or not.
You have to believe in yourself for yourself, who cares if other people don’t “get” you.
No matter who you are there is someone out there who will want you for who you already are, what you already have, not for what you or anybody else thinks you should be.