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Eating disorders and body dissatisfaction have traditionally been conceptualized as female experiences in Western society. However, attention has recently.

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Presentation on theme: "Eating disorders and body dissatisfaction have traditionally been conceptualized as female experiences in Western society. However, attention has recently."— Presentation transcript:

1 Eating disorders and body dissatisfaction have traditionally been conceptualized as female experiences in Western society. However, attention has recently shifted from the drive for thinness in women to the drive for muscularity in men. Media influences (e.g., health magazines, dating service ads, and toy action figures) have played significant roles in the increase of eating disorders and body dissatisfaction among women and men. The media portrays the average male as increasingly muscular, leaving many men to feel less satisfied with their natural form. Eating disorders and body dissatisfaction are positively related to sexual orientation among men; they affect gay men more than straight men. The ideal physique within the the gay community involves both the drive for thinness and the drive for muscularity. The Buff-Agenda: A Gay Plan The buff-agenda explains the idealization of the muscular physique in some gay men and their belief that muscles create masculinity. Motivations for pursuing a muscular body include the ability to attract sexual partners and to resist social homophobia. In other words, the buff-agenda allows some gay men to enhance their sexual desirability while also compensating for their degraded social status. The physical ideals espoused by the media, and their stereotypical connotations of male masculinity, may influence steroid-use and other unhealthy appearance-management behaviors (e.g., restricted eating or excessive dieting, anorexia nervosa, and bulimia nervosa). The harsh competition to embody the standards of male beauty in the gay community may also lead to a negative gay identity issues because of the intragroup discrimination based on appearance. The Meaning of Masculinity for Gay Men Eating Disorders & Body Dissatisfaction Project BAR: Methods Results Project BAR: Research Questions & Hypotheses I would like to thank my mentors Dr. Perry Halkitis, Daniel Siconolfi, and Robert Moeller for their help with this process. Acknowledgements Eating Disorders and Body Dissatisfaction in Gay Men: The Roles of Masculinity and LGB Negative Identity Timothy W. Allomong New York University Evolutionary-based theory suggests that the heterosexual womans desire to appeal to men as objects of sexual attraction is also applicable to gay men. Likewise, muscular men are evolutionarily considered to be more attractive to heterosexual women. Since most gay men want to appeal to other men and are attracted to other men, they are intimately tied to the idea that muscularity is sexually and socially desirable. The desire to be muscular is also associated with the desire to be perceived as masculine; gay men who strive for muscularity also tend to strive to increase the status of their masculinity. Masculinity is socially conceptualized based on stereotypical notions of social behavior, physical appearance, and sexual experience. Societal homophobia encourages many gay men to feel that embodying conventional forms of masculinity will enhance not only their sexual appeal, but also their social and political powers. Unfortunately, the medias portrayal of the average male physique is difficult to attain without the use of anabolic steroids. LGB negative identity refers to an LGB individuals elevated levels of internalized homophobia, need for privacy, need for acceptance, and beliefs that coming out was or is a painful and lengthy process. Internalized homophobia, also known as internalized homonegativity, explains the degree to which a homosexual or bisexual person internalizes the heterosexist views of society. All gay men have some level of internalized homonegativity regardless of their community affiliation. Research suggests a stronger presence of LGB negative identity in highly feminine, less masculine gay men when they are compared to their less feminine, highly masculine peers. Increased levels of negative gay identity are also associated with gender non-conformity (i.e., femininity in males), which is especially common during adolescence and emergent adulthood. Project BAR aims to promote awareness and understanding of the increasing presence of eating disorders and body dissatisfaction within the gay male population. The current study sought to address three major research questions: -What is the relationship between conceptions of masculinity and LGB negative identity among gay men? -What is the relationship between conceptions of masculinity and eating disorders among gay men? -What is the relationship between LGB negative identity and eating disorders among gay men? Based on past research, we expected the data from our sample to reveal several relationships: -Eating disorders would be positively related to body dissatisfaction. -Each of the three indices of masculinity would be positively related to the other two. -All three conceptions of masculinity would each be negatively related to LGB negative identity. -All three conceptions of masculinity would each be negatively related to eating disorders. -LGB negative identity would be positively related to eating disorders. -External motivations for physical fitness would be positively related to both eating disorders and LGB negative identity, and negatively related to all three conceptions of masculinity. Participants were recruited at the Gay Pride Festival in New York City in June Men who indicated that they were at least 18 years of age, either gay or bisexual, a resident of New York City, and willing to participate in an NYU study on gay mens health issues were asked to complete a survey questionnaire. The survey measures five major constructs using five corresponding scales: -Eating Disorder Inventory (Garner, 1991) -Body Dissatisfaction Subscale (Garner, 1991) -Conceptions of Masculinity (Halkitis et al., 2004) -LGB Negative Identity (Mohr, 2000) -External Motivations for Physical Fitness (Allomong & Halkitis, 2007) All five measures utilized a Likert response scale ranging from 1 (Strongly Disagree) to 5 (Strongly Agree) and achieved alpha levels that established their validity. Project BAR: Respondent Demographics 219 men participated in the study Sexual Orientation: 91% are gay (n = 199) and 7% are bisexual (n = 15) Age: years olds (M = 33 years, SD = 10.6 years) Race: 64% White (n = 140), 18% Latino (n = 40), 9% Asian (n = 20), & 8% black (n = 18) Educational Attainment: 30% MA or higher (n = 66), 37% BA or BS (n = 81), & 30% some college or less (n = 67) Discussion This study aimed to enhance our understanding of the issues that surround gay mens health. Eating disorders are increasingly prevalent in this population, and our study reveals that several psychosocial variables exist in relation to eating disorder pathology: Gay men who indicated a dissatisfaction with their bodies were also likely to display behaviors associated with eating disorders. The notions of masculinity were highly interrelated, suggesting that an ideological orientation for masculinity is present in some gay men. Social and sexual stereotypes of male masculinity, such as that masculine men must behave in a tough manner and have muscular bodies, are highly associated with having a negative gay identity. Our findings also suggest that gay men who perceive themselves to be socially and sexually less masculine, and also who have negative feelings toward their own sexual orientation, may be more likely to experience eating disorder pathology. Gay men who have more external motivations for physical fitness are also more likely to prescribe to physical stereotypes of masculinity and have negative feelings toward their sexual identity. LGB Negative Identity Implications of the Findings Clinicians and mental health professionals who work with members of the gay population should consider the relevance of masculinity and negative identity in relation to eating disorders in their clients. This study has addressed a predominantly white sample of highly educated, urban gay men. Future research should seek to target diverse samples of gay men (e.g., minority and non-urban samples). Eating disorders were positively related to body dissatisfaction (r =.26, p <.01). Social masculinity was positively related to both physical masculinity and sexual masculinity (r =.48, p <.01; r =.52, p <.01). Physical masculinity and sexual masculinity were also positively related (r =.55, p <.01). Social masculinity and sexual masculinity were both negatively related to LGB negative identity (r = -.24, p <.01; r = -.18 p =.01). Eating disorders were negatively related to both social masculinity (r = -.15, p <.03) and sexual masculinity (r = -.16, p =.02). Eating disorders were positively related to LGB negative identity (r =.19, p <.01) and external motivations for physical fitness (r =.22, p <.01). External motivations for physical fitness were negatively related to physical masculinity (r = -.14, p <.04). Age was positively related to body dissatisfaction (r =.16, p =.02) and eating disorders (r =.257, p <. 01).


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