Like many young people, gay, lesbian and transgender teens may have body image issues. Sometimes these are related to their sexual orientation or gender identity, and sometimes they are simply the result or personality or simply being a teen. But whatever the cause, it can be helpful for GLBT teens to learn more about body image issues, why they occur and how to address them.
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Body image isn't just a concern for straight girls. Both young gay guys and lesbians can have a lot of issues in this area. Some gay guys feel pressure to be perfectly groomed and physically fit, while some lesbians who reject standard notions of femininity, get the message that they should be more "girly."
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Eating disorders are a sadly common aspect of many teens lives. Recently, a Harvard study looked at the causes of eating disorders. It found that young people who were being bullied for being gay, lesbian or bisexual were more likely to develop this problem.
Image (c) St. Murse
A lot of teens, both gay and straight, wonder if their penis is a normal size. Usually, the answer is yes. For gay teens who not only receive the message from society that "bigger is better," but who may also be comparing their penis to that of a male partner, the issue can be particularly worrisome.
Photo (c) Michael Illuchine
"Lesbian" sex fantasies created by straight guys can make lesbian teens feel bad about their bodies because girls may feel as if they are viewed as a sex object by people they have no sexual interest in. It can also make them even more uncomfortable showing any signs of affection with another girl in public, than they might already be.
Image (c) Kaitlyn Tikkun
Body image issues are a big problem for many teens. Some worry they are too fat. Others think they are too skinny. Some want to be taller, others smaller. But what happens if you have such feelings AND you also feel like you were born into a body that doesn't match the person you know you are inside? This is the case for a lot of trans teens who have to deal with everyday body image issues, as well as those specifically related to being transgender.