Through The Looking Glass: A Poststructural and Queer Photovoice Project Exploring Nutrition and Bodies among Gay Men
The image we have of our bodies is an integral part of our health. Body dissatisfaction has been previously related to negative health outcomes and poor mental health for many gay men. Through a Foucauldian conceptual framework and employing an arts-based qualitative methodology that weaves together components of poststructuralism and queer theory, this thesis examines how gay men navigate the tensions to their health and well-being from competing discourses of gender, sexuality, beauty, health, and fat. Using photovoice, nine self-identifying gay men in Nova Scotia, Canada explored their beliefs, values, and practices about food and their bodies. Discourse analysis of their interviews revealed that participants viewed their bodies as works of art that are shaped through many facets of gay culture, including dominant beauty ideals, social media, and hegemonic forms of masculinities. Tensions that influence their health and well-being were often experienced by participants when they felt their bodies were not aligned with societal body ideals and discourses. The findings of this study reveal that by recognizing and challenging body ideals, connecting with other gay men, and expressing compassion towards oneself and others, participants were able to help ease their tensions and positively influence their lives.