Nearly half of gay men are willing to literally die for the "perfect body," according to a new study out of the United Kingdom. Details follow.
What would you give up for ripped abs, big arms and solid pecs? If you find yourself agreeing with nearly 50 percent of responders to a recent poll the answer is not "french fries" or "dessert" but rather a year shaved off your life.
Researchers from Central YMCA, the Succeed Foundation and the University of West England's Centre for Appearance Research in Bristol surveyed 384 men with an average age of 40 to arrive at the shocking results. The study, released Friday morning, found that 48 percent of respondents would shave off one year from their lives in exchange for a more muscular and leaner body. More worrisome, perhaps, is that 10 percent of respondents would choose to die more than 11 years earlier to have the "perfect body."
"Body talk is saying things which reinforce the traditional standard of male attractiveness, which is having a tall, lean, muscular body with clear skin and a full head of hair, and is for most people unattainable," said Dr. Phillippa Diedrichs of UWE. "This research really demonstrates that body image is an issue for everyone, although in men, especially middle-aged men, it has been woefully under-reported, but has a negative impact on social relationships and on attitudes to diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle."
Rosi Prescott, CEO of the survey's other authoring group, the Central YMCA, points her finger at the media. "Today gay men are under enormous pressure about their bodies, and we believe that a lack of body diversity in the media, including the gay press, and a relentless focus which values people based on appearance, may in part explain why gay men are particularly susceptible to this issue," Rosi said. "This is of concern when we know that record numbers of men are taking steroids or having unnecessary cosmetic surgery to achieve what is often an unattainable or unrealistic body image ideal."
As the discussion around male body image becomes less taboo, should media outlets—including gay press like yours truly—hold a mirror to themselves? And, in line with the poll, would you sacrifice one year of your life in exchange for the "perfect body?"