Bulging Biceps and Impressive Pecs: Why Are Muscles So Important for Gay Men?
Just like many women, many men, too, fall victim to the appreciation of sex they feel attracted to. Only, believe it or not, they have to bear a double burden on their shoulders. First, it’s society. The society we live in is very much youth orientated and it’s important to look fit if you want to fit in. And be gazed at. And then, there’s the gay society per se, where the competition is so fierce that you cannot afford to be a bloated whale. The thing is that if you are not your best possible version (which, in many cases, equals Zac Efron in his Baywatch body!), your dating pool will shrink to the size of a coffee cup. It may sound like a farfetched generalization, but still, there’s some truth to this. I mean, when you're scrolling through Instagram you can see that everyone is liking pictures of guys with rugged bodies, right?
And we can’t but ask: Why gay men are so fixated on muscles?
Because muscles are hot
That would be the shortest and most explicit answer. But behind this superficial explanation, there are all these complicated, multi-system processes that determine what we find hot, and which evolutionary psychology has been trying to figure out. On the one hand, we are genetically programmed to associate fit bodies with good genes, hence the high likelihood of solid partnership/protection and fertile seed.
On the other hand, sexuality researchers are talking about a process called impression that is triggered during the first years of puberty. This is the period in our lives when we are most likely to be strongly influenced by the environment. It is during our early teens when our preferences (the sexual ones, too) are formed, and are going to stick with us until we die. Simply put, if you, as an 11, 12, or 13-year-old were impressed by some older guy with pecs and biceps, you will most probably develop a liking for such body type. The teenage years are also the period when most fetishes and atypical sexual desires are conceived and are brought to the surface at a later age. If you’ve watched the new Netflix series about the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, you’ll know what I am talking about.
Because the gay community promotes it
That’s another possible answer, and those who are inclined to think in that direction will be right, too. Yes, TV, Hollywood, and especially social media obsessively promote gorgeous body totems, which, no doubt, messes with our group and individual mechanisms of attraction. But these stereotypes are not something that comes out of nowhere. If chunky-type male bodies were recognized as the most universally sexually appealing, the "bears" would be getting the roles of the hot guys in all the movies. Instead of Zac Efron.
What the above-mentioned means of entertainment do wrongly is that they tend to oversimplify the image of the muscular man. But that’s their only sin. They definitely are not choosing for us - we choose for us!
When too much is too much
A couple of years ago, there was, I think, a Danish study that showed that 65% of men, no matter their sexuality, get aroused when being shown a picture of an athletic male torso. The result of this study is actually ground-breaking, because we come to realize it is not that much about muscles but about low body fat! If you are not particularly ripped, but you are one of the lucky ones whose body fat index is somewhere between 8 and 15%, then you know that you don’t need many muscles to make heads turn when you go shirtless. Actually, most gay guys like men who are fit, but not overmuscled, an a Schwarzenegger look can rather be a turn-off than a turn-on.
The reality is that the muscled body type is unattainable for most people. That’s why it has obtained the status of gold or diamonds, or anything, really that is rare to find in nature. And the less we have of something, the more we cherish it. Yes, muscled male bodies are hot, and we have to blame the ancient Greeks for forcing that stereotype upon us. And yet, no matter how attracted we are to all the Zac Efron's out there, we should always keep in mind that it’s a guy’s personality, not his body that makes or breaks the deal.