Having binge-watched it almost obsessively and eagerly anticipating a series two, I never thought I’d comment on how the new series of Queer Eye has affected my mental health in a negative way. But, sadly, this is going to be that post.
There are two episodes of Queer Eye that I struggle to watch; “To Gay or Not Too Gay” and “Hose Before Bros”.
To Gay or Not Too Gay is an episode where the Fab 5 makeover the “straightest gay guy in Atlanta” in an attempt to help him come out to his step-mother. I actually very much appreciated this episode because I realised they had dropped the “for the straight guy” schtick but it quickly turned into difficulty for me to watch. That’s because this episode reinforced the stereotype that I really hate about gay men, that apparently all gay men are fit, toned, tanned, slim, slender, etc. The guy they made-over dressed a little bit preppy but was still successful, fit and had a boyfriend. He even felt comfortable enough in his own skin to go shirtless and/or to wear a harness and go to various gay events. Sure, he hadn’t come out to his step-mother and so they sort of framed it around that, but it felt hollow for me because we weren’t seeing a gay man in desperate need of a make-over.
Queer Eye itself isn’t exactly an easy thing for me to watch anyway, what with the Fab 5 being made up of successful, good looking gay guys which I become slightly envious of. Most notably Antoni Porowski has received a lot of publicity because of his dashing looks, with few people actually concentrating on what else he brings to the table.
The other episode’s struggle can be summed up in one word; Superman. Since the show aired the firefighter who Karamo Brown nicknamed Superman has been quite the object of thirst. Even on the show they capitalised on any and every moment to get those shirtless or sexy shots of him, and he wasn’t even the one getting the make-over. People lust over him like crazy. Now I’m not saying he’s not hot, because he is, but somebody even posted on Twitter about “Superman” saying; “good morning to fireman Micah from episode 8 of the Queer Eye reboot and no one else”. It’s this attitude that just because he’s attractive he is more worthy of your attention than others. This really makes me feel worthless because I’m not as attractive as him.
Now I know a lot of this comes down to my own body image issues but being bombarded with attractive people, and sidelining those that aren’t as attractive, really reinforces the idea of worth and value and that unless you look good you aren’t worth as much focus. This is how I feel whenever I see a picture or a gif of “Superman”. It makes me realise I’m probably never going to look like that and so what is the point of even trying? It’s this sort of thinking that leads me to extreme views of self-harm because I hate how I look compared to this god-like person. But this isn’t just Queer Eye that does it. Attractive people are pushed to the forefront in everything we do and given accolades and opportunities that wouldn’t be available to people who look like…well…me. The media really does reinforce this idea that the world is cast like a movie and if you’re not attractive then you’re not the main character. At times I feel like I’m an extra, and the director is trying to lose me at the back somewhere so nobody can see the ugly person in the show.
And let’s revert back to the episode where they dropped the “for the straight guy”. Because this is what, being a member of the LGBT+ community, I struggle with the most. The LGBT+ community does a lot to put its best foot forward but sadly sometimes that comes at the expense of pretending some of us don’t exist. Look at dating apps or websites and you’ll notice that almost all of the men on there are fit, toned, tanned, slim, slender. They basically fit any category that can be considered “above average” for a positive body image. You very rarely see normal gay couples, or diverse gay couples, featured on these adverts.
Beauty is something we are supposed to enjoy, but I find myself enjoying beauty less and less as time goes on. We’re talking primarily about physical beauty here but I find myself struggling to enjoy works of art because of their beauty and the unrealistic expectations it puts on people.
Now let’s get a little bit personal.
There’s a guy who comes into my work called Charley. I’ve mentioned him in a previous post. He is gorgeous (personal opinion, yes, but it’s also widely acknowledged by people I have spoken to). Now when he first came into my workplace I used to love it because, obviously, the eye candy factor. But slowly over time I’ve grown to hate him coming into my work, his appearance has a dramatically negative affect on my mental health. That’s because I can’t appreciate how good looking he is without realising everything I’m not. I can’t see him as good looking without also seeing myself as unworthy, overweight, too tall, stupid hair, stupid glasses, awkward smile, half-arsed shave, etc. I still see him as beautiful but all of these things come up with it too. And this is why I struggle with those episodes of Queer Eye and with the media in general sometimes. It’s because I can’t separate their beauty from my faults. The two are linked in my mind and so when somebody mentions how good looking Antoni is or Superman is or when I’m forced to see the guy in the harness with rippling abs, well then that is just like telling me I’m too ugly to be worth your time.
This could also be more personal than I even thought. Going back, I don’t get attention from people who look like that. It’s not a pity party, it’s just a fact. I’ve met some drop-dead gorgeous guys and ninety percent of the times they don’t even know I’m there. The other ten percent of the time they know I’m there but I’m not worth giving the time of day to. So maybe it’s my warped mind believing that good looking and beautiful people will always be selfish, stuck-up, conceited, self involved arseholes towards me because I’m not as attractive.