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Show Pride & Love for the Queer Community

June marks for many the start of summer, the days getting longer, vacations, and breaks from school. It is important to note that it is also Pride month! June marks the month that many events, riots and protests started taking place to move towards equal rights and social justice for the LGBTQ+ Community. The queer community needs a large amount of love and support, they often face so many issues which can negatively impact their relationships with their bodies and their body image. There are many impacts our culture has on many marginalized populations and how individuals see their bodies, it is important to understand these different influences in order to support these populations.

Body Image Impacts for the Queer Community

Body image is already difficult for many individuals to develop a positive relationship with. Individuals who are queer often face more issues with developing a healthy relationship with their bodies due to our society and cultural influences. Individuals who are not heterosexual often are more likely to develop body image issues, eating disorders and overall depression with their appearance. Here are a few of the many reasons there is more of an effect:

- Discrimination due to one’s sexuality and/ or gender identity

- Under-representation in media (this is getting better but is STILL a large problem)

- Diet culture can sometimes draw a sense of community (aka weight watcher meetings, talking about new diets, body shame connection. etc.)

- Stressful life experiences tend to have negative effects for someone feeling low self-esteem and developing disordered eating

- More likely to experience trauma or body shame

- More likely to experience bullying or family/social rejection

- Discordance between one’s biological sex and gender identity

- Higher levels of internalized shame & stress

What is the Heteronormative Body Ideal?

Western culture has its own concept of beauty ideas which often reflect heteronormativity. There are more intensive and stereotypical pressures put on individuals who are queer. People often label individuals who are queer with hurtful labels which are stereotypes that put individuals in a box and make it so someone can feel more “out of place” or uncomfortable with their bodies due to these harmful stereotypes. In addition, there often is a link with disruptive social support which is a large impact on the individual’s overall body confidence.

Often individuals will feel ostracized by their culture or society if they do not fit the normative ideals, which will lead them down a path of over-securitizing their bodies as an attempt to fit in, or gain social acceptance. These individuals are often also more likely to experience different levels of discrimination which can lead them to obsessions about their bodies, and overall dissatisfaction with their identity, personality and self-confidence.

What Steps Can You Take to Support?

1) Be Mindful of the Way You talk about your Own Body: Remember, shaming your body for the way it looks often can impact the people around you. If someone is struggling with their body image and overhears the way you negatively talk about yourself can increase the internalization of negative thoughts and perspectives for others.

2) Show Yourself Self-Compassion along with Compassion to Others: The kinder you are to yourself; the more others can feel comfortable. People who are around others who are compassionate often feel less judgment or social pressure to look/ behave a certain way.

3) Post & Follow Social Media Health at Every Size Content, Along with Queer Representative Media:

4) Be Mindful of the Way you Speak, Joke, or Compliment Others: Remember that individuals who have often been discriminated against have often had hurtful stereotypes or jokes made against them, which can largely impact self-esteem and body image. Compliments can also be just as impacting, as individuals who receive compliments (especially body centric compliments) can become disordered for ANYONE but especially populations who often feel a lack of social support.

5) Get Involved! Get involved and support organizations which directly help the queer community. Many organizations care for diverse communities and individuals, so directly offering services, finances, or donations to these organizations can show an active hand in supporting these populations.

As you go into the month of June, take time and reflect on the many impacts our diet culture has on all different communities. You can’t fix someone’s body image, but you can show unconditional love, support, and openly talk about these issues within your social network. The concept of having body image confidence is extremely intimating to most populations, so showing a loving and accepting environment to all people can not only help show support, but it can also support your own confidence. Individuals who show overall more acceptance and compassion towards others are proven to have more self-compassion and inner peace for themselves.

Remember to go and support your local Pride Center as they are often non-profit and offer many services, safe spaces, clothing and food for our queer community. If you are in Utah, go to the Pride Festival in SLC Saturday and Sunday June 4th and 5th @ Washington Square. Also, come stop by Silk + Salt Photography!

*As a cis-gender heterosexual white female, I have a large amount of privilege. Know that I have not personally experienced discrimination for my sexuality, and that this blog is providing resources and information from research and clinical experience. This blog is not meant as therapeutic advice, rather to provide education. If you or a loved one is struggling with disordered eating, or body image issues know that there are many educated qualified mental health therapists and dieticians who are well-versed in these complicated issues. Please seek therapeutic & nutritional support if disordered eating or body image concerns are impacting your life.

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