Gay men are guiltier than most of airing themselves to the world, warts or pecs and all. Log onto the majority of gays' Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and there will be at least one carefully chosen and perfectly lit photo, selfie or otherwise, of them topless/in trunks/in their underwear. Saying that, log onto the same profiles of their straight counterparts, who go to the gym, eat well and look after themselves and you will still see something similar. Because people who pour a lot of effort into the way they look feel proud of what they've achieved. Some people are proud of their hobbies and plaster pictures of their endeavours online, others are proud of their children and swamp their Facebook with the progress of said kids, while others take pride that they live well, eat well and work damned hard at the gym. So why is there an inherent compunction from everyone to judge anyone who posts such photos?
The human body is nothing to be ashamed of, but people would have us believe that by exposing the bodies of the people who do work hard on their fitness and who do eat and exercise well, it somehow negatively affects the body confidence and self image of others. But would you say to people who earn higher end wages that they shouldn’t flaunt their cash by publicly spending it on material goods? Well that would be ludicrous, wouldn’t it? It seems that the world wants to prevent envy from occurring by removing things to be envious of, rather than letting the envious individual deal with it by themselves. Suddenly, being envious of a body-type has become a social problem, not an individual’s self-confidence issue. Whoever you are, there will always be ways that you would like to look better; things you want to improve; body parts you wish you could change – anyone’s personal issues shouldn’t become problems projected onto someone else, blaming their possession of the thing you want for your lack of it. The internet may have made images and incarnations of these aspirational figures more accessible, but this doesn’t mean there’s any more of them than there has ever been before. People have always been envious of each other’s looks, it’s just that now people are envious on a mass scale.
I don't know who the people are that follow selfie-addicts on Instagram, but there's only so many times I really want to see any of my friends topless, regardless of what they actually look like. What people seem to forget is that while a good portion of the people following them are nameless faceless skin-demanding strangers, the rest are people you know from all parts of your life. Social media takes all your friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances and everything you post can be seen by all of them. While there is nothing wrong with your body appearing online, especially if you're proud of it, surely you realise that the more skin we see, the more we're just going to think you're a) a slut or b) an exhibitionist. And while both may be true in equal measure, do you really want everyone you know and have ever met to think that too? Holiday photos will feature some skin, if you've made a radical transformation in the gym, show us! But otherwise, you look the same every time you do it. I'm sure even the people who search #instagay #instalove #instamuscle get a bit tired of those same old faces too.