Our relationship to our own bodies is a topic that fascinates me. As gay men, issues of body image, self-esteem and self-worth are undeniably closely linked to our sexuality. For some, taking control over our appearance gives us a sense of control in a world where we were/are made to feel bad about who we are. For others, holding negative views about how we look is an extension of the negativity we feel about our sexuality.
Our relationship to our appearance is also inextricably linked to the narcissistically permissive era of social media sharing we find ourselves in. Whether its shirtless selfies shared on Instagram, or dick pics exchanged on a hook up app, our bodies have become our brand. It’s the first view much of the (online/social) world has of us. That means there’s pressure for those bodies to present who we are in the best possible light.
I know these issues aren’t the exclusive domain of gay guys. Straight guys experience them too. But as a gay guy writing a gay blog for a (mainly) gay male audience, my focus will be on how we as gay men experience body image issues.
So to that end, I am super excited to introduce you all to a wonderfully insightful, intelligent and just outright lovely guy – Scott Lovegrove. Scott is a personal trainer and gym owner. I thought he would be a great person to speak with about some of these issues.
Meet Scott Lovegrove
I actually didn’t know Scott and had never met him prior to doing this interview. I had seen some of the awesome videos he’d done about his Movember campaign. I was impressed by how articulate he was.
He also had a really genuine, down to earth quality about him. I’m happy to say, he’s just as lovely in real life as he is on screen. I started our interview by finding out a bit more about him, his background and his coming out story – and what a story it is!
Gay men and body image
Our conversation then moved on to the topic of this article – gay men and body image issues. I asked Scott to share his thoughts on body image issues as he sees them within the gay community, as well as from his own, personal perspective.
Scott raises some really interesting points. I really like how he views his physical appearance as a representation both of who he is, but also of his (internal) physical health. To me, that sounds like a really well-balanced perspective. It’s not just about looking good, it’s also about feeling good – and sharing that with the rest of the world. How many people overlook the health of their liver or don’t know their cholesterol levels, and are instead solely focused on their physical appearance only?
Scott also talks about challenging preconceived assumptions and protocols, something I am a big fan of. His thoughts on BMI illustrate how we can’t just blindly accept the rules and guidelines as they’ve been created, because they don’t take into account everyone’s unique individuality.
One thing I would encourage everyone to do, is take some time out and think about your own health and fitness. We’ve become so reliant on information and advice from “out there” and it’s come at the expense of silencing our own inner wisdom. I’m not saying we shouldn’t listen to experts and professionals. But what we can also do, is tune in to ourselves a bit more. I think many of us would be surprised at what we discover.
Gay guys vs straight guys
The world is changing. Whether it’s the rise of the metrosexuals in the early 00s, or the worldwide marriage equality movement, how gay guys are seen is different. And part of that difference has come from us being not seen as different at all. The lines that used to define and divide gay guys and straight guys are blurring. Here’s Scott’s take on things:
“That’s easy for you to say”
OK, so I threw Scott a bit of a hard question here. And (unsurprisingly), he was totally up to it.
I had a feeling that some readers might take issue with me talking to a personal trainer – someone who’s job it is to literally be fit, healthy and focused on their own appearance – about body image issues. The underlying and somewhat valid criticism could be that a personal trainer wouldn’t be the best person to understand these sorts of issues.
So, I put that very proposition to Scott. Check out his awesome response:
Simple steps to get started
Getting started is usually the hardest part of doing anything new for the first time. I asked Scott to give some simple steps that people will actually be able to apply. It doesn’t matter what your goal may be – whether it’s to lose weight, gain muscle or anything else – the same basic steps can be applied to any fitness or health related goal.
And there you have it guys. I really hope you got something out of this article. Body image issues take many years to form, so there’s no miracle overnight cure. But I hope that there’s something you read or heard here that resonates with you, and it might just be something small that plants the seeds for big things to come.
I’d like to say a massive thank you to Scott for giving his time so generously, and for being so patient with me during my first ever face-to-face interview.