Friday, February 20, 2009

Gay men skinny, lesbians fat? Doesn't that seem to be the case? Au contraire, says the GSS. I've calculated means and added bisexuals to homosexuals because sample sizes are so low. (Interviewers rated the respondent's weight, scoring them as 1 for below average, 2 for average, 3, for above average, 4 for considerably above average).


Mean weight index

Straight men 2.18 (N = 812)
Gay men 2.26 (N = 38)
Straight women 2.24 (N = 949)
Lesbians 2.12 (N = 16)

Gay men are fatter, and lesbians are skinnier. Assuming this is correct, where would the stereotype come from?

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure the pattern arises from unrepresentativeness of the homosexual samples, since larger, or more controlled, comparison samples clearly offer a pattern of slimmer gay men and plump lesbians.

Gay men tend to view their bodies in a more negative fashion than do straight men with similar BMIs, and obese male homosexuals are usually not able to find a partner (I don't know if the same happens with straight men). That results in homosexuals being motivated to keep their weight down. Plus they are more susceptible to eating disorders characterized by an obsessive pursuit of a fit body (anorexia nervosa and bulimia), whilst being undistinguishable from male heterosexuals in the prevalence of the "body unconcerned" ED binge-eating disorder.

Anonymous said...

Some time ago the media was reporting on a study that found lesbians to be twice more likely to be obese than heterosexual women.

This study found the same pattern amongst women, plus confirming the inverse trend amongst men.

Ron Guhname said...

The second study, in particular, seems persuasive. The BRFSS is huge.

Anonymous said...

When Ive seen lesbo pairings out personally, they are usually large boned, heavy, masculine women.

Thats not scientific, but its what Ive seen.

Ive not noticed many lebsian "spinner" couples personally.



Ive seen gay "bear" men though who are heavyish, and some "fatty" gay men (or men whom Ive percieved to be gay) along with the stereotypically svelte metro-sexual-looking gay men that the media portrays.

ironrailsironweights said...

Lipstick lesbians and lesbians until graduation are probably more likely to be slim than "traditional" lesbians.

Peter

Half Sigma said...

First of all, the body weight question on the GSS is extremely error-pronce. The interviewer is supposed to evaluate the respondents weight, with most respondents being reported as normal.

It's too bad the survey takers don't bring a scale with them.

Regarding heavyset lesbians, I suggest you take a trip to Provincetown, MA, which is a gay and lesbian mecca, and see for yourself how all of the lesbian women have a chunky body appearance. Their body fat is always distrubuted in an unfeminine manner, with large stomachs, and never an hourglass shape.

Stopped Clock said...

Most stereotypes about gay men are really stereotypes about "bottoms", who tend to be physically small, thin, effeminate, etc. compared to their more masculine partners, who are also more numerous than the bottoms.

There are a lot of exclusively "top" males who are into feminine cultural activites like knitting and interior decoration, but they still tend to be physically large and muscular. In fact, now that I think of it, a lot of gay men are into bodybuilding too, so they might be bigger than straight men for that reason alone.

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