How the LGBTQ+ community struggles with body dysmorphia and eating disorders: “I’m not good enough”

Over half of LGBTQ+ people experience eating disorders, and though body dysmorphia is not that common, it is another thing on the already full plate of the community.

The general social stress

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While each person has their story, the expectations often come with a hefty price. For the LGBTQ community, the added stress comes from social surroundings. A Trevor Project study also found that 87% of LGBTQ youth are uncomfortable with their bodies.

Body dysmorphia among LGBTQ members

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Among triggers that could lead to eating disorders and body dysmorphia are fear of harassment, the stress of not being accepted, and negative self-talk. But, there is also the ideal spread across social media of what a person should look like, similar to what women went during the era of supermodels on fashion covers.

Real people and their stories

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USA Today talked to several members of the LGBTQ community. Chris Henrie, a pansexual, said he was recovering from an eating disorder and body dysmorphia. Henrie explained, “It’s always there in the back of my head telling me that I’m not good enough, or I don’t look good enough, or this part of my body is flawed.”

Teen’s story

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At 15, Henrie was in the hospital with anorexia. The content creator said, “It’s hard to even really think about how it has complicated my life and affected me because it’s really all I’ve known for such a long time.”

London-based nutritionist’s story

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Daniel O’Shaughnessy, a nutritionist, punished himself for not going to the gym by practicing dangerous binge eating combined with anorexia. He said, “I just remember thinking, I have to constantly better myself; I never thought I could just be and exist and live my life.”

Life on steroids

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O’Shaughnessy started taking steroids because “Having big muscles is what you need to have in order to fit in, or what you think you need to have to fit in. So it’s become this forever chasing your tail.” His blood pressure went through the roof, and he couldn’t walk.

Living a lie

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The nutritionist added how “no one thought I was suffering” and said, “On the outside, I was treading water. Like a swan, I was completely fine, trying to further my life, studying nutrition. No one really asked how I was.”

Don’t believe the hype

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Jarrod D. King, the host of a gay culture podcast, believes that the hype is responsible for these disorders. He claims, “Many people think that the ideal body type is either the muscular guy with the ‘V’ shape or your skinny twink kind of vibe.”

Teen’s body dysmorphia

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Lexie Manion struggled during her teen years. Now, as a student, she reflected on the bullying and said she always believed she was bigger than she was.

In the mind of a person suffering from body dysmorphia

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One New Yorker shared, “When I was struggling, I didn’t necessarily like looking in the mirror. I was upset with my torso. It wasn’t flat enough, in my opinion. I was not happy with my face. I thought it wasn’t sharp enough.”

The man refused to accept himself

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The New Yorker did not want to accept he was gay. He said, “I really repressed who I was for so many years, and I had my eating disorder as a crutch.”

Things are even worse if you are not white

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“LGBTQ+ people of color face heightened discrimination and mockery, even among fellow LGBTQ+ members, when they do not meet established body image and fashion standards online and in social settings,” says Melvin Williams, associate professor of communication and media studies at Pace University. Ayanna Bates shared, “You deserve access to care, that your body is yours, and that you have the right to exist how you are.” She struggled with body image in her teens, and it took her years to find a treatment.

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