I watched an interview with Stephen Fry recently in which he discussed his manic depression and the effects that it has had on his career. One of the things that he said had affected his depression was that he had a hard time with self esteem based on the fact that as a gay man he was always comparing his appearance to the image of a man he would himself find attractive (and he said that he did not in the least fall into that category). He then postulated that this is an issue that all gay men and women deal with in their lives that straight people don’t have.
As a bi male I would say that I think that there is something to this. I know that I take a certain amount of confidence from the fact that I would find someone that looked similar to myself to be attractive (not in a narcissistic sense mind you, it’s just that men with a similar build/hair/etc. are often the ones that I find the most attractive).
What do other people think about this? Do other LGB dopers think that this might be true?
Oh, I’m such a narcissist in some ways. I think I’m super-hot (well, my body is, the face is tepid, that’s okay), and I’m often attracted to females with similar features to mine. I can see how I might feel frustrated about my looks if I looked in the mirror and didn’t want to tap that. But I like doing sexy poses in the mirror. It’s fun.
Um, what was the question? I was thinking about me again.
I’m bi. I have self-image issues and I know I would regardless of my orientation.
But, I can understand that. A lot of my issues don’t just come from comparing myself to women I find attractive (though that’s part of it), but also the stereotypes. It seems anyone in the LGB categories is bombarded with stereotypes. I’m not totally butch, but I’m definitely not a delicate femme type either. I’m not queer enough. My guy/girl ratio is all wrong. Etc.
c) I have never been able to really really fully no-kidding internalize the notion that anyone who counted (that is to say female) would look upon my bod and upon seeing it feel lust and appetite such as I feel when looking upon her coming the other direction.
d) It’s a rule; while it may be violated it still exists as a rule and everyone knows it, and they know for which team you play: the male makes the overtures.
e) I think it would be infinitely cooler and more pleasant if I could transport to a world without any such expectations of who is supposed to be hornier or more forward or cuter than whom. Sorry, I know you gay folk have to put up with prejudices and violence and discrimination and nasty attitudes and horrid laws and all, but even so, I’m jealous of you that you are not so forcibly altercast into roles quite so rigidly, boy vs girl, and instead have a lot of freedom to play either, both, or be deliberately ambiguous (or deliberately “neither, like duh, that’s a straight people prison” for that matter) and I’ve never been able to get there. It’s not quite entirely like I wanna be the femme/sexobject/passivepartner, although that’s a helluva lot closer to comfy than the role I’m expected to participate in, more like “either both and neither, but shy”, but damn these roles totally ruin heterosexuality.
f) I thought I was weird and different and wrong and twisted and fit to be despised for it too.
g) I got beat up several times for being gay, it’s what they thought. I think I threaten them too, but they don’t see a diff and they don’t differentiate.
h) Your struggles keep benefitting me, like domestic partner benefits. Heck, nearly everything y’all do benefits me. I need to reciprocate more.
i) Y’all inspire me in other ways too. To say “we are different, we do not deny that, what we deny is that our diff is a sickness; if we don’t think it is, it’s not; it’s just a difference and we like who we are” is an incredibly powerful & delightfully wonderful manifesto. Rock on.
I’m practically a textbook example of this. I’ve always had a weight problem; not to the point of being obese, but definitely weighing more than I should. On the other hand, the guys I’m attracted to are extremely thin and bony, to the point of looking anorexic. And it was so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that everyone else shared my preference for skinny men, though of course I knew better.
When I was younger I was always surprised when someone expressed interest in me, and immediately thought, “What the hell is wrong with this guy?” It took me many years to realize that some guys are simply into heavier men, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
I’ve encountered lots of skinny guys with the same problem . . . finding it difficult to understand someone considering them super-hot.
I don’t really see what being gay has to do with it. I’m not gay, but I have a pretty good idea of what society, the men in my life and I myself find sexually attractive in a woman, even if I don’t want to have sex with them. And no, I don’t measure up to that and yeah, I suffer self esteem issues as a result.
Word. This isn’t a gay thing. I think most people have self-image issues and regardless of whether you’re gay or straight, you always wonder if you appear as attractive to whoever you’re attracted to.
I do, however, think women have a bigger problem with this than men. Our society doesn’t harp on the “worthiness” of the male they way they do with women. Guys definitely have the George Clooneys and Brad Pitts out there giving the signal on what’s hot and what’s not, but women are bombarded with society’s idea of beauty. I’m married and “off the market” (that’s an awful term) but on the rare occasion I’m out at a club, I think to myself that if I were interested in meeting someone, I’d be playing 20th fiddle to the other women. Age alone will knock a person out of the running.
I do think we’ve come a long way regarding what constitutes beauty these days. Back in the 70s, Cheryl Tiegs and Christie Brinkley were the poster girls for California Cute, and anyone who was brown, black, or yellow rarely showed up on the cover of a magazine. Nowadays, I think our differences are celebrated as beautiful and desirable. “Beautiful” has a broader definition. It’s primarily age that never makes the cut. Potions and lotions and surgery help stave off the appearance of having lived more than 30 years, and if you dare to look your age, you’re passed over.
I’m a bi female, mostly attracted to the waifily androgynous of either sex/between sexes/whatever, and I’m built like an old-school fertility goddess. While I have self-image issues that have to do with being a tall, skinny child who had reason to expect to be gamine until I hit puberty and wasn’t, I don’t really compare my body to the body types I’m attracted to.
Short of massive surgery and some sort of wasting disease, I will never resemble what turns me on. But what I have turns other people on, and I guess the blessings of abundant cleavage mean I’ve never been short of unsubtle evidence to that effect.
So it’s not true for me, but I can certainly allow as how it may be true for other people. I actually have no idea to what I can attribute a basically optimistic body image; by all rights it ought not to be, but it’s one area where I seem to have an irrational blind spot in my favour, so I’m going to go with that and not question it too much.
Right after I came out, I was walking along a business-lined street when I did a double-take at a dyke I saw in one of the store windows. On my second look, I realized I was seeing my reflection in the window. That did wonders for my self-esteem – at least for my appearances anyway.
I’ll admit that it is nice to know that I’d find me attractive. But I do have to continually remind myself of it – I definitely still look in the mirror and say “eww” (especially after I gained weight).
Up until relatively recently I didn’t think of myself as attractive. Mostly it felt like I didn’t have any evidence that I was attractive rather than feeling unattractive per se, though occasionally I felt that way. As a straight man I didn’t really have a meaningful image of an attractive man in my head, it was mostly based on media images combined with stereotypes (which I didn’t quite believe, but I also couldn’t quite shake).
Things changed with time. I went to college and started to see more people and more examples of people’s attraction’s to each other and how varied the things that caused the attraction were. I got hit on by guys occasionally, which was easier to notice somehow. Eventually I started to talk with friends about the fact that I had never been with a woman nor even had a clear sense that anyone had ever been attracted to me.
Eventually I started to become aware of women being attracted to me, often women I found attractive too. I still was (and am) pretty clueless in this regard, but not to the point that I can’t see it at all.
My point is twofold: point one is that straight people can have the opposite problem of not having a good sense of what makes their gender attractive and therefore may have no idea that they are, and point two is that you can change that self-image if you keep your mind open.
I think the crucial thing is to expand your idea of what is attractive. You may not personally find a particular type of person (or gender) attractive, but if you can become more aware of the diversity of what is attractive you can learn to see that you are attractive too (unless you are not ;)).
While I have some self-esteem issues with the way I look, they have little to do with my sexual preferences. I’m tall, moderately endowed in the breast area and muscular with slightly more belly fat than I’d like, while the girls I invariably fall for are short, large breasted and overweight. I have no desire to enlarge my breasts, gain weight, or grow shorter.
Though for a little mind fuck moment, there’s the fact that the guys I fall for often look a bit like me. Mm, androgyny. So, I guess if I dressed in drag I’d want to do myself.
I have some self-image issues, but I’d still have them even if I weren’t bisexual. I am tall, fat, and unfeminine (but more androgynous than butch), and I’m most attracted to short, dainty, very femme women. That also happens to be the type I always wanted to be. I wanted to be that type long before I realized that I was attracted to women. The two don’t have anything to do with each other.
Hm… You know, I wonder whether or not this might have been a facet to my self-esteem issues before entering college. The girl I had a major crush on in high school was taller than me, more leggy, with smoother hair and more proportionate facial features, but otherwise looked rather similar to me. In essence, she had all the features I wanted. I’ve always been attracted to the taller and skinnier types as it is, and comparing myself to her was a great way to highlight all the features I didn’t like about myself.
I don’t think this is a major issue for most LGB people, but I can imagine that those already crippled with self-esteem issues, depression, etc., might get this thought into their head and use it (however involuntarily) as a means to exacerbate their self-pity.