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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Gender Issues » Lesbian women have better body image

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Author Topic: Lesbian women have better body image
Heather
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The Advocate reported this:

quote:
Lesbians are twice as likely as straight women to be overweight, increasing their risk for health problems and obesity-related death. According to Reuters, the American Journal of Public Health undertook one of the first large studies to look at obesity among lesbians. Researchers at the Boston University School of Public Health examined a national survey of 6,000 women, finding that lesbians were more than two times more likely to be overweight or obese than straight women.

The researchers also looked at smaller studies that suggest high rates of obesity among lesbians and the possible causes.

“The results of these studies indicate that lesbian women have a better body image than do heterosexual women,” the researchers wrote.

The study's authors said they were not as convinced that lesbians are more muscular than straight women, resulting in a higher body mass index and less body fat.

I'll tell you that upon reading that, especially the bolded bit, I just nodded my head, because that's been my experience with women both in person, in my life, as well as in droves, in my work. Certainly, there are exceptions, but I would agree with what the study found (and did, and ever have, find it additionally interesting that lesbian women often seem to have better body image even when they are heavier than other women).

And ultimately, I think it has less to do with what one given man a given hetero women, or women who dates men is seeing, and more to do wityh how much greater influenced hetero women, or women who date men, are by the cultural beauty standards set and held up by straight men and hetero culture.

Thoughts?

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September
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I think it makes a lot of sense. Actually being out and openly being non-straight means that you're living outside of hetero-normative thought structures. So if you're already not included simply because of who you date, why bother keeping up with what's 'cool' and 'pretty' and trying to strive for it?

I know that I started feeling a whole lot better about myself and my body right around the time that I started to accept my sexuality, and I don't think that's a coincidence.

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Johanna
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FuNnY
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I reckon our bodies can swing either way. Ive recently come out to my self but not to anyone else yet. and already im feeling more confident about my body and my mind feels clearer, this is helping me keep fit, its like being on a natural high of being pleased with my self all the time [Smile] [Smile] i love it.
does anyone else get this sorta thing???

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feefiefofemme
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I do see some merit in this study (quite a bit, actually). I mean, once you accept one aspect of yourself (your sexual orientation), it's not that far a leap to the realization that "Hey, I am who I am, and and all of me is great the way it is."

I know after I came out to my parents, I felt a lot more comfortable in my own skin. Honestly, when I was in sixth and seventh grade, I wouldn't even wear shorts or a skirt that fell anywhere above my ankles because I loathed my legs. Things have improved a lot since then, let me tell you.

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Surferchk07
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quote:
Originally posted by September:

I know that I started feeling a whole lot better about myself and my body right around the time that I started to accept my sexuality, and I don't think that's a coincidence.

Im about the same as Joey with that.
This survey really doesnt suprise me at all but the key question really is how do we get heteros to learn to accept/love their body like how lesbians seem to do even when they are usually more over weight?
I mean this society atleast to heteros the norm and what is pushed on them is thin is in.

But I guess to lesbians your already outside of the hetero norm as Joey points out so you arnt in, in the first place so it doesnt really bother you? but how do we really get this to change with heteros?

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Elizabeth

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Heather
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Well, as I said, I think it has a lot to do with the way that things like advertising are presented to hetero women, and also how very pervasive the pressures can be to appear in such a way that is (somehow) about being attractive to men, or conforming to the hegemonious standards they set, at all times.

So, seems to me that so long as those standards stay so pervasive, and so long as those messages are sent so clearly and so loudly, we can only expect so much process. After all, if 19 people tell you something is wrong with your body and how you look, the one voice saying something different can be really hard to hear.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Pumpkin_Pie
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Well when you look at the results of this survey alongside results of different surveys showing the prevalence of eating disorders and poor body image amongst gay men, it can be quite easily correlated with the idea that being attracted to, and therefore worrying about your image in the sight of, men can lead to these problems.

There is definitely less of an emphasis, in my experience, on bodyweight and physicality on the lesbian scene than on the gay men's. I've worked in a gay bar and have been a lesbian ( [Wink] ) for quite a while now and the results of this survey are no surprise.

And I know, that as a lesbian, I feel so outside the hetero culture of fashion and beauty that beyond the teenage obsession with being thin(mainly borne out of terrifying control issues) worrying about my bodyweight, seems silly.

Perhaps when fashion magazines start selling to lesbians, we'll see a depressing downturn in body image amongst dykes.

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cool87
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I am not surprised that lesbians have an higher body image but I do have to admit that I was a bit surprised when the study said that there is a lot of obesity in that group.

Sure, it might be directly linked to higher body image but how ? Maybe they don't feel so guilty about their weight and so don't go into dieting as easily as some heterosexual woman ? I'm just trying to figure out that, so any ideas ?

[ 05-11-2007, 06:05 PM: Message edited by: cool87 ]

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Turtlehead
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I think it has something to do with the lack of presentation of female bodies to men in the lesbian community. Recently I heard my RA at school say, “My boyfriend’s gone for a week! I don’t have to shave my legs!” The response of other women was congratulatory. I identify as a lesbian, and I haven’t shaved anything in two years. I think my RA’s comment exemplifies the way women in our society are taught to present themselves as objects for men to consume. Men don’t want hairy legs. Men don’t want fat girls.

In my experiences with the lesbian community at my school, no one’s really concerned about their weight or their appearance. It’s more accepting of however people want to be. Being slightly overweight doesn’t affect your chances with a girl. In contrast, the gay male community at my school and heterosexual community are more focused on appearance. Gay men must be skinny, wear designer clothes and muscular. Straight women must be thin, blonde, white, etc etc.

I was previously in a relationship with a boy in high school and I shaved my legs and dressed up occasionally more to please him than me. Now, I accept myself for who I am, and that does not involve being thin, shaving or being clothing-conscious.

I also feel like my entire self image has improved after coming out to myself and others. I am more in tune with who I am, and that person is amazing.

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neoonline
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Well If you look at other angle may be its because there are no chemical reactions happening sexually like in intercourse ?

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Heather
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There's nothing chemically different that happens to anyone with heterosexual intercourse than happens with other heterosexual or same-sex sexual activities.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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neoonline
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If I can as in this forum since, sexuality lesbian or gay has come in to discussion.

I presume Lesbianism will come because of slightly male like char. in a woman and vice versa in gay.

Correct me if I am wrong I just want to understand the internal psychology of both.

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Sex is not the sole entity in a relationship. There are commitment,trust,and companionship.
One will realize them in unconditional love.

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Heather
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I'm not even sure what you're asking, honestly.

But if you're suggesting that all lesbian women are masculine or butch, that's fallacy. There are plenty of butch lesbians, and there are also plenty of femme lesbians, as well as lesbians that don't identify with either.

Same goes with gay men.

In other words, sexual orientation and gender identity are two different things, and a given gender identity doesn't make a given sexual orientation any more or less likely.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Bobolink
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I guess it is how one defines obesity. So far no one has pointed out the obesity is the number one cause for type 2 diabetes in adults. It also encourages heart disease. Are we saying obesity is a good thing here irrespective of the sexual orientation of a person?

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