In the beginning, there was Dyke. She was ‘fat’ and proud; she did not need to conform to a heterosexist, male constructed image of beauty. She wore not your restrictive tit sling. Sure, she had biceps, but that was just a result of her constant, yet gratifying dildo wielding. So too, in the beginning, was Fag. He had, confusingly, supple buns of steel. His skin was smooth and flawless, his hair forever slicked, flicked or coiffed according to the latest style. These two creatures lived side by side in rainbow harmony; the dykes frolicked amongst the aisles of a $10.00 smorgasboard while the fags gleefully snapped towels at one another’s buttocks down at the Y. Or, so the historical stereotype goes.
Logging onto www.livejournal.com (an online journal/blog host and social network), a younger-generation bi-curious chick or accomplished rug-muncher can access a cornucopia of “ugly-dyke hating, beautiful lesbians” who relish their own conceit and “don’t care about the hardships of the gay community”. Perusing the pics of non-ugly applicants, for strictly academic purposes of course, I was shocked to find myself cackling as I pointed an accusatory finger at the screen while I chanted “U.G.L.Y. You ain’t got no alibi”. Of course I would never throw myself to this pack of she-wolves, my own self-image wouldn’t stand up to their vicious burns. I, along with many of my homo and hetero sisters, have tortured myself for years trying to fit into the size 8 burka of idealised feminine beauty. The ‘love thyself’ feminist mantra that apparently accompanies any woman’s coming-out sent its apologies on my special day.
Dr Ilan Meyer, of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, informs me, via a recent article published in Express, that 15 per cent of both queer men and women suffer from eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia or binge-eating), which puts us on par with the het girls – go us! The report, published in this month’s issue of the International Journal of Eating Disorders, was the first of its kind insomuch as it provided evidence of formal diagnosis of its subjects rather than just surveying folk who displayed some symptoms. If the prevalence of eating disorders in lesbians (and women in general) makes your heart bleed, I can guarantee that the implication of the figures for their faggy counterparts will move you to action. At 15 percent, the boys may be in line with us women, but it makes them three times more likely than straight men to stick a toothbrush down their throat, eat an entire roast pig or engage in some other such pleasant behaviour.
One suggestion for why this figure is so high (i.e. equal to women) is that men who like men are subject to the same pressures as women who like men, only worse: they must both fuck, and be, ‘that hot guy’. Not being a gay man, I can hardly pass judgment on whether or not the gay community places undue emphasis on body image as they are suggested to do, and certainly depicted by the media as, doing. What I can say with some confidence is that were I male, gay or straight, I would find it very hard to live up to the luscious standard set by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhal, let alone those guys in the ‘Mega V’ ad published on the page next to Express’s eating disorder newsflash. Dr Meyer however, believes the answer to the gay body image question is not so simple. He argues that the data suggests there are “factors other than values and norms in the gay community related to the higher rates of eating disorder among these men”. As to what these factors are, your guess is as good as his.
Before signing off I want to make something very clear: despite my irrepressible silliness, I consider this issue to be a serious one. It is something that the young queer community ought to be tackling head on, and as such, I applaud our Queer Officer’s involvement in the recent “No Diet Day” campaign and would encourage more activities along the same theme. If you need to talk to someone about issues related to this article I suggest contacting the fantastic VUW Counselling service on (04) 463 5310, or you can visit the eating disorders web site at http://www.eatingdisorders.org.nz.