It could be bullying or society’s convoluted sense of what’s attractive in men. But whatever takes some men from fitness enthusiast to body dysmorphia, it can start as early as age 14 and even lead to steroid abuse that’s more than five times more likely among gay teens.
That’s according to a two-year study of more than 17,000 American boys aged 14-to-18.
Four percent of them identified as gay or bisexual, and of that group, 21 percent had tried steroids. Only four percent of their straight counterparts did.
“It’s no different than getting my hair dyed,” one gay steroid user told researchers. “It’s just what it is.”
That supports evidence that the majority of steroid users do it for appearance sake over all other motivations. A handy infographic (below) from Daily Xtra puts more responses from the teen study, in addition to responses from adult gay men, into perspective.
As it turns out, answering “Who?” and “How many?” is the easy part. Researchers posit theories from an HIV-reaction culture beginning in the 1980s, to an even older and more overarching culture of warped masculinity in the media. Another study of high school boys and increased “hypervisibility of the masculine body” shows what we already instinctively know: Bullies in gym class don’t help.