“Body image isn't about vanity, it's about self-esteem and how we see ourselves, both of which are often challenging for LGBTQ+ people”

Body Image is how we see our appearance and our bodies. It’s also the beliefs we have about the way we look: both positive and negative, and dictates what we think when we look in the mirror.

Your thoughts about your build, your weight, your smile: these are connected to your body image.

When body image is positive, we have a realistic view own bodies, and can see the things we like about them. Thoughts like, “I don’t like my smile much, and that’s fine, but I’ve got great hair!”

But when body image becomes negative, we can focus on the parts of our appearance we don’t like, ignoring our positive traits, and see our bodies in a distorted way.

Consistently negative body image can feed into depression, anxiety, and other issues like eating disorders.

LGBTQ+ people and body image

LGBTQ+ people face unique challenges which may affect our body image. Gay men and women are bombarded with images of bodily perfection in queer media, and on the scene. Trans people are often subjected to violence and abuse over the outward way they express their gender. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual young people are also more likely to experience mental health difficulties than their straight peers, including the eating disorders anorexia nervosa and bulimia.

As a community, we also experience periods in our lives when we’re unable to show who we are, or are worried about acceptance by others. These kinds of pressures, and the resulting feelings of shame, guilt, and fear that follow, continue to weigh heavily on many of us.

Factors like these partially explain why LGBTQ+ people may have a less healthy body image than average.

How common is it?

It’s difficult to say exactly how many people experience poor body image, but it affects both men and women, young and old, cis and trans, straight and gay.

There’s also evidence that says LGBTQ+ people are more likely to experience negative body image than others.

What are the effects of negative body image?

Persistent poor body image can affect our lives in a number of ways. The negative thoughts that come with it can impact our mental health, and alter our behaviour, potentially leading to other problems such as

  • Low self-esteem
  • Eating disorders
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Crash dieting
  • Over-exercising

People might also criticise themselves heavily, idolise a certain body shape, constantly compare themselves to others, obsess about weight and food, check themselves in mirror constantly, pinch their body.

What Next?

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