In recent years the rise of technology has impacted all of us. As a result, we as a society are moving more and more onto online dating platforms and the LGBTQ+ community is no acceptation. What most don’t consider is the effects of this shift on young queer people and how it’s causing an eating disorder epidemic.
42% of men who are diagnosed with general eating disorders identify as gay, this number has been increasing over the years and professionals are starting to think its correlated with the new underground virtual bathhouse trend represented in apps like “Grindr” and “Tinder”. Apps like these can often lure young queer teens (despite the legality issue of age) as they are more commonly alienated from society and turn to “Hookup” apps for a sense of stress relief and community however, studies have shown this comfort is temporary.
The majority of todays gay teens are turning to apps like “Grindr” where they are subjected to sexual pressure from older queer men, ultimately this leads to a body image-based self-worth that has led to many LGBTQ+ youth to unhealthy eating habits in order to please the older men who are commonly looking for the young skinny feminine looking boy.
In the gay community it’s a common toxic mindset that the body is currency the question that runs through so many teens mind is “Do I look fat?” or “Does my ass look big?” and it’s obvious that when young kids are being subjected to this, it’s going to cause issue. Often times this results in unhealthy behaviors such as excessive dieting, bingeing, excessive exercise, and purging.
So, as you could imagine being a young gay person alienated by society with a number of pressures on you not only developing and coming to terms with a sexuality not yet accepted by the 73 million Americans that voted for trump this past election but, also the regular everyday pressures of being a teenager and figuring yourself out, could lead one to seek the romantic or sexual attention that is so accessible by just simply lying about your age. In turn so many Queer teens are being groomed by older members of the community to maintain the “ideal” body image, leaving our youth emotionally and physically bankrupt.
As someone who has been on these various dating platforms from a young age, I’ve seen the effects of this epidemic on myself as well as many other queer friends. As a result, body image is something that I struggle with to this day, there has been countless times I’ve been shamed or up lifted based on the number on the scale, receiving messages saying “you need to eat more” or “you look sick” for something beyond my control made it no easier for me to grow up in a hetero-dominant society where it’s difficult enough to find a place.
You may be asking “What can we do about this?”
I believe that as parents we should be monitoring our kids screen time more in a way that still respects your child privacy but ensures their safety. On a corporate level it’s important for us to be heard by these large dating platforms and to urge them to put heavier systems in place that doesn’t allow underaged users.