Men and their bodies: a comparison of homosexual and heterosexual men.

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The study examined influences on body satisfaction, disordered eating, and exercise behavior of a male subculture that places a heightened emphasis on appearance: the homosexual male subculture. Subjects were 71 homosexual and 71 heterosexual men. Relative to heterosexual men, homosexual men showed more body dissatisfaction and considered appearance more central to their sense of self. Also, their exercise was more motivated by a desire to improve attractiveness. Among the homosexual but not the heterosexual group, men who desired to be thinner showed more attitudes and behaviors associated with disordered eating than men who were thinner than their desired size. In contrast, heterosexual but not homosexual men who wished to be heavier had lower self-esteem scores than men who were heavier than or equal to their desired size. The findings support a view that a male subculture that emphasizes appearance may heighten the vulnerability of its members to body dissatisfaction and disordered eating.

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