New Melbourne University study Gay Bodies Worldwide is set to cast a massive global net in exploring the body image of gay and bisexual men.
The study will be led by the Dr Scott Griffiths and the Physical Appearance Research Team (PART) at Melbourne Uni, and will reach as many as 3.5 million gay and bisexual men around the world.
Griffiths told ABC News Breakfast that evidence suggests gay and bisexual men are more likely to experience eating and body image disorders, but that further research is required.
“More and more men and boys are increasingly seeing their appearance as a domain that they have to excel in and project control over for others,” Griffiths said.
“It’s not surprising then that more and more boys are succumbing to eating disorders and the like.
“There is some evidence that gay and bisexual men are more vulnerable than heterosexual men to eating and body image disorders, and to using appearance-enhancing drugs such as anabolic steroids, which would suggest a greater need for research.”
Participants will be surveyed multiple times over the course of the study to track changes in attitudes and perceptions around body image.
The study’s website says the results will provide “insight into how gay and bisexual mens’ thoughts, feelings, and beliefs about physical appearance change as they grow older.”
Those who sign up to the survey will answer questions around the types of bodies they are attracted to, appearance-based discrimination, eating and body dysmorphic disorders, cosmetic surgery, steroids, the influence of social media, body-idealisation images in media, masculinity and femininity, as well as suicidality.
It is believed to be the largest prospective survey of gay and bisexual men ever.
“Findings from Gay Bodies Worldwide will transform our understanding of the psychology of male physical appearance,” Griffiths said.
He hopes the results will help “develop cutting-edge treatments for gay and bisexual men with life-threatening body and eating disorders”.
Results from Gay Bodies Worldwide will be released progressively over the course of the study.
In the lead-up to last year’s Mardi Gras, comedian and Mardi Gras telecast host Joel Creasey stirred up controversy by criticising the body image expectations often prevalent at that time of year.
“I’m getting so bored of certain members of the gay community telling people that if you don’t have abs, bulging arms and ‘thighceps’ then you are not welcome at the parade or any of the surrounding Mardi Gras parties,” he wrote in a viral Facebook post.
“Mardi Gras is a celebration of our community, a celebration of how far we’ve come and a celebration of love for both ourselves and for others,” Creasey said.
The only way to participate is to receive random advertisements for the study on Grindr, which began rolling out on February 15.
For more information about Gay Bodies Worldwide, visit the study’s website by clicking here.
Further reading: ‘OPINION: How gay body image ideals harm men living with a disability‘