It's been said that more gay men are conscious of their body than heterosexual men. Indeed, many gay men frequent fitness gyms to shape up their physique, as if they were to maintain and enhance their masculinity.
As an MPH student, I've been particularly interested in gay men's body consciousness: how it is created and reproduced; and what kind of impact it brings to their health. Needless to say, self-image of gay men correlates with a variety of issues, from their psychology such as self-esteem to their use of steroids and club drugs.
It is quite obvious that an image of gay men portrayed by gay media has a significant impact on gay men's self-image. A typical male model appeared in advertisements targeting gay men is an athletic young white man with six-pack abs. Why white? Why athletic body with sic-pack abs? If you deconstruct the advertisements, they convey a lot of powerful symbols, a collection of which represents a stereotypical gay man which many gay men, as a result, strive to become.
What is interesting is that the stereotypical image of a gay man portrayed by media has had an impact on gay media of other cultures. The other night, I was watching LOGO's Round Trip Ticket in which gay scenes in Hong Kong were presented. In that episode, a host of the show was interviewing a Hong Kong gay magazine publisher and its photographer. Their interview was shown together with several images of semi-nude young Chinese male models photographed by the photographer. I was quite surprised with the fact that all the Chinese models had a similar physique: athletic, toned, lean body with six-pack abs. Also, they were all "white" in complexion. What does this tell us? To me, it is kind of globalization of a stereotypical gay male (in a very racial way), undermining so much diversity in gay male populations. For real, so much can be said about this (to be continued).