By James Moore | @jamesy_moo

Around four years ago now, I managed to shed nearly five stone —  the equivalent of Kim Kardashian’s hair extensions — and felt absolutely great about myself. I hadn’t come out yet, and I knew that if I wanted to gain any attention on the notoriously picky gay scene then I needed to sort out the way I looked. I’ve always had problems with my body image, but the thought of entering an entirely new world of vests, tans and bulging biceps had me reaching for the nearest salad. My new slim look gave me bags of confidence, and for a while I felt pretty bloody pleased with myself. Then I realised I still didn’t look the same as all these other picture perfect men.

I might have cut out the burgers, but the beefcake look had completely escaped me. I’d assumed that by losing weight I’d walk into any club and be inundated with offers of marriage and the occasional pony ride. But instead I now had to, gulp, go to the gym. I’d had exercise experiences when I was younger, and I’d repressed them entirely, locked them away in my head next to the time I first discovered Sabrina wasn’t really a teenage witch, (she was late 20s at least).

I’m not too sure why I’ve always had such a bad body image. Even now, I still have those days when I can’t bring myself to even glance at the mirror. When I was younger my Mum actively encouraged me to eat healthily, and even bought me a gym membership at the age of 12, but something just didn’t sit right. If you’d asked me who my best friend was, I’d probably have said something that was encased in pastry. Food was one of the only things that allowed me to feel happy, but ultimately made me cry into my pic’n’mix bag at night. I wanted to be slim and sporty like everybody else at school, but it just wasn’t happening. I was chubby, camp and a keen member of the lunchtime comedy club, even though their meeting time played havoc with my five meals a day plan.

After I lost the weight, I noticed that all these gays that people were falling over to talk to looked ripped and untouchable, something which I couldn’t be further away from.

It seems as if to be a ‘good gay’ you have to be up at 6am every morning, working out at the gym. Of course, if you’re doing it purely for your own health benefits and self-esteem issues, then that’s great. However, when people are checking in at the gym, and giving me a tweet by tweet account of how many miles they’ve done on the treadmill, it makes me question who this is really for. Take X Factor reject Lloyd Daniels for example. Every time he ‘feels sad’ or ‘gets angry with life’, suddenly a near-naked picture appears online. It’s as if the only way he’s going to feel better is by the hundreds of gay men (and naive twi-hard girls) jostling to tell him how beautiful and sexy he is. Is that really going to solve the problem? (Personally I find Ben & Jerry’s has an adequate healing power too).

Not a day goes by on Twitter when I don’t see somebody showing off their toned physique. “Look at my new haircut! Oh, FYI I’m topless too!” or “I’ve had a really bad day, but look my man-sculpted breasts have fallen out LOL”. OK, so we all like a perv every now and then, but it makes me feel completely inadequate about myself. I Instagram my new haircut and it only gets three likes, and one of those is from my hairdresser. Compare this to the 50+ likes on somebody else’s snap of their new, verging on porn, tan lines. 

Are we really that shallow now, that the only gratification we can get is when strangers online certify us? I know that I spend far too much time thinking about what other people think of me, when in reality I’m never going to meet 85% of my Twitter followers. So, instead of flaunting my body at every opportunity, I’m going to keep my top on. After all, people seem to have some interest in what I say on Twitter, without getting my baps out. Inevitably I’ll get buff next year because clearly it’s THE year for it to happen, but that’s beside the point. The element of mystery and surprise is much more exciting, don’t you think? 

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