Two of the stars of I Kissed A Boy (IKAB) have opened up about their personal journeys when it comes to body image.
Dan and Ollie, the only couple to last after the filming of the BBC’s gay dating series, have spoken exclusively to Attitude in the latest issue, out now.
The pair also joined Attitude for an exclusive poolside photoshoot à la Masseria (in Surrey)
Ollie, 27, who opened up about past experiences when it came to body image on IKAB, told Attitude he has “100% struggled with body image in the gay community.”
“For years I suffered the damage of being made to feel like I’m not what people want” – I Kissed A Boy‘s Ollie
He continued: “All of my insecurities stem from being badly treated and judged by other lads in the past for being larger. The experience I had where somebody commented on my body, that I opened up about on I Kissed A Boy, honestly made me feel completely undatable, unwanted, and unloved.”
The Brighton lad went on to say that at times he couldn’t “see a future for myself that included love or happiness.”
As a result, Ollie developed an “unhealthy relationship” with the gym, an environment he wasn’t comfortable in.
“For years I suffered the damage of being made to feel like I’m not what people want,” he added.
Thankfully though, Ollie is in a better place now.
“I’m still very much a work in progress, and am constantly telling myself to be more confident and happier with how far I’ve come. The worried, body-shy teenager, who felt unworthy, has a very different outlook now. While not quite in the shape I’d like to be at times, I’m in a much healthier mindset.”
“Seeing the muscular guys on Instagram and in magazines gave me a body complex” – I Kissed A Boy‘s Dan
As well as time and being on IKAB, Ollie says what’s been key to his journey is seeing other people living proudly and dressing how they please.
“Witnessing people’s confidence firsthand is very empowering. [People who have] absolutely not got a care in the world, they look fierce. I look at them and I think, ‘They’re living their best life. What am I doing worrying so much?’”
Meanwhile, Dan, also 27, told Attitude he had struggled to articulate his journey with body image in the past.
“It’s always been that I feel too skinny. I feel like an idiot saying that out loud, but it’s a reality for me. I’ve always struggled to put on weight, and seeing the muscular guys on Instagram and in magazines gave me a body complex.
“Are my arms too small to wear a vest? Legs too skinny to wear shorts? These are battles I’ve had with myself. Surely if I feel like that, there are lots of other guys who feel the same.
“People would tell me I was so skinny, and they’d mean it as a compliment, but it was actually feeding into my negative feelings about my body.”
“You’re the only model made and manufactured in this style” – I Kissed A Boy‘s Ollie
Over time, Dan’s put the effort in to get over his gym anxieties, admitting his journey is also a “work in progress” and that he’s learned “not to strive for perfection.”
The Scot also recounted that he used to work out more before he would go clubbing which he conceded “(probably) no one noticed but me.”
He recognised that this “was the wrong way to channel my energy, and I’m grateful to have grown past that. I’ve informed myself about fitness, and that’s allowed me to build more of a body that I’d like.”
Both men also recognised that it is tough to avoid ‘idealistic’ images of what a gay man should look like which are prevalent in the media and across social media.
They each stressed that while it was a valid goal to aim towards if people wanted to, it wasn’t the be-all and end-all.
“For me it sets a standard I don’t think I’d ever be able to reach,” Dan said. “It would make me unhappy to try.
“I guess that would be my message with this feature too. We’re all a work in progress. There is no perfect body or way to be or live. Someone will love you for exactly the way you are. Just do you, babe.”
Addressing the readers Ollie added: “You’re the only model made and manufactured in this style. That’s called being limited-edition, darling.”
Read the full feature in Attitude issue 354, which is out now.