I find that people sometimes have a hard time understanding that body norms and ideal body types are very much cultural rather than built in.

Being a bit older, I can actually see it, because I lived through different periods of idealization. When I was a teenager, for example, ideal women’s body types were different from what they are today.

Lady Gaga and other women with with “voluptuous” curves would have been unacceptably “fat” in the 1970s. Standards have shifted.

Nothing brought the point home to me more, though, than spending time in Mexico, where men often seem to value heavier women than we do in the US. This really showed me that what we often think about as innate or “natural” is learned behavior.

I know I’m not talking about gay men here, but the principle is the same. Culture often dictates desirability, even when we don’t recognize that the phenomenon is happening.

When it comes to gay men, I’ve noticed that some of my friends with the most powerful loving relationships seem to fall outside body-type ideals. Maybe breaking through artificial standards did something for them.

I don’t know.

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot. jamesfinnwrites@gmail.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store