chapter  16
15 Pages

Gay Men’s Use of Online Pictures in Fat-Affirming Groups

ByJASON WHITESEL

The Internet has occasioned a new relationship between gay identity and body symbolism, in reworked commercial images for men who are inadequately represented by advertising and other forms of media. Cyberspace offers fat gay men a forum where they can reconfigure imagery and text, to signal issues of personal, collective, and gender identity.2Though the counseling community has discussed how advertisements negatively affect gay consumers’ perceptions of their bodies (Matthews 2005; Shernoff 2002), few have considered advertisements as part of an interactive process that provides an opportunity for gay men to re-evaluate their body images in virtual and actual experiences.To develop a larger model for understanding visibility politics and virtual body images, this chapter examines how the subject of fat gay men trying to gain a presence in existing advertising offers evidence of resistant cultural practices. Building on studies that unpack the complex semiotics of advertisements and media images (Bordo 1997; Goffman 1979), the chapter discusses how reworking the images can provide a site for both critique and reinstatement of conformity.