Bara Gay Male Art: Body Image

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What to look for: You should evaluate for yourself what type of man you see depicted by an artist within this genre. Does the man look strong? Does he also look vulnerable? Does his expression convey his fears or does he conceal his feelings? What does his physical appearance (muscles, physical health, etc.) tell you about him? Can you imagine yourself being in the situation or scenario that you see him in? Are you aware of the historical or cultural origins of the depictions you are viewing?

Worth collecting?: Is there a street value of this particular art? Is the art mainly available in galleries or museums? Is the art accessible to you where you live other than online?

What are your feelings when viewing this art?: What emotional responses do you have when you see a particular visual work? Do you find what you see arousing? What were you expecting to feel when you approached this art? What meanings do you assign to what you see depicted?


Body Image

Some gay men constantly deal with a mental health problem called body dysmorphic disorder. This is when a gay man cannot stop thinking about or obsessing over one or more perceived defects in his physical appearance. Even when others do not share his perception about his body, a gay man with this order usually faces shame, embarassment, and anxiety. Gay men regardless of their age who have this disorder typically feel motivated to spend excessive time on grooming (especially hair coloring), clothing, accessories, dieting (to lose weight), and bodybuilding to bring about an impossible level of "perfection" in himself so that he will feel desired sexually by other men.

Illustration by Lundquist

Artistic depictions of males within the context of professional sports can especially promote a man's comparison of his own body with that of some idealized athlete in the prime of his life.

Illustration by Priapus of Milet

When art depicts men in scenes with other men in the specific context of sexual attraction, body image issues can compel some gay male viewers to feel unattractive or undesirable compared to the male characters they observe. The message subscionsly conveyed is: "You will never be desirable to other men unless you look 'perfect' when you take your clothes off."

Illustration by Choppski

Artists rightfully should take pride in creating male characters that serve the purpose of attracting viewer attention to traits such as masculine good looks, large genitalia, and enviable arm and leg muscles. Manly hands and feet are typically carefully crafted as well to attract viewer attention.

Illustration by Alan Davis

Male artists consistently use depictions of the nude male form to attract and maintain the attention of viewers while inviting spending time to study what's shown in the scene.

Illustration by Elena Calderas

There are gender-specific roles in play here. Female artists who depict the nude male form can be expected to work within the same or similar motivations to appeal to the viewers by showing characters with idealized traits and/or involvement in compelling situations and scenarios. Keep in mind that bara by definition is by gay men to appeal to males interested in having sex with other males. In contrast, when females create homoerotic images or stories of males, a different Japanese word is used to describe that—yaoi.

Illustration by He Thong

The artist can regardless of gender trick the viewer by manipulating the visual sense of proportions in ways that defy expectations. How such images impact the viewer may be totally subjective based on what's in the mind of the beholder. This is why the male body image as seen through the eyes of the artist invites discussion and evaluation.

Bara Gay Male Art Pages:


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Disclaimer: As guided by section 107 of the US Copyright Law, here you will find images which have not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner for posting. Images are made available in particular for instructional and educational purposes to train or coach or mentor viewers regarding the available ways for creating visual art. Specifically, images are presented to explain and evaluate or critique issues, procedures and techniques evident in the work of artists so that viewers will be encouraged to express themselves by creating their own visual works.

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