Article Title: Male Body Image and its Relationship to Sexual Preference and Homophobia

Author(s): Shane Greentree and Vivienne Lewis

Institute(s): Centre for Applied Psychology, Faculty of Health, University of Canberra, Australia.

Journal: Pakistan Journal of Psychological Research, 2011, Vol. 26, No. 2, 105-126

Correspondence Address: Vivienne Lewis, Centre for Applied Psychology, Faculty of Health, University of Canberra, ACT 2601. Australia. E-mail: vivienne.lewis@canberra.edu.au

Abstract

The present study aimed to compare gay and straight men aged between 18 and 65 years, in relation to a range of body image measures designed specifically for men, and explore the role of homophobia and internalized homophobia. Participants (110 straight men, 72 gay men) were recruited from undergraduate psychology courses and from a range of Australian community groups. They were required to complete questionnaires measuring Masculine Body Ideal Distress (Kimmel & Mahalik, 2004), Drive for Muscularity (McCreary, Sasse, Saucier, & Dorsch, 2004), Objectified Body Consciousness (McKinley & Hyde, 1996), Reasons For Exercise (Silberstein, Streigel-Moore, Timko, & Rodin, 1988), Attitudes Toward Homosexuality (Kite & Deaux, 1986), and Internalized Homophobia (Martin & Dean, 1987) (homosexual men only). It was found that heterosexual and homosexual men did not significantly differ on any of the body image measures and there were non-significant relationships between the body image measures with the homophobia/internalized homophobia measures. For all participants, levels of masculine body ideal distress were predicted by exercising to improve health and fitness; and levels of drive for muscularity were predicted by exercising to enhance appearance, health and fitness, and to improve mood. The overall findings suggest, as has been found with women, that men are susceptible to the pressures of the media and society at large, in the development and solidification of an idealized male body type. It also indicates that the experiences of gay and straight men may not significantly differ. In doing so, it does not try to minimize the uniqueness of each group at a more subtle level, which may have implications for intervention development, but goes some way to dispelling some of the myths surrounding men’s body image and point the way for future research.

Keywords: male body image, sexual preference, homophobia, muscularity