Fat chance! Experiences and expectations of antifat bias in the gay male community

Olivia Foster-Gimbel*, Renee Engeln

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Although popular culture suggests that weight-based prejudice is especially common among gay men, no studies have examined this issue empirically. In Study 1, we explored experiences of antifat bias among gay men and the body image correlates of these experiences. Participants (215 gay men, ranging in age from 18 to 78) completed measures of antifat bias, body image disturbance, and open-ended questions about their experience with antifat bias. Over one third of gay men (many of whom were not overweight using common body mass index [BMI] guidelines) reported directly experiencing antifat bias. The most common type of antifat bias reported was rejection by potential romantic partners on the basis of weight. Both experiencing and witnessing antifat bias was associated with several types of body image disturbance. As a follow-up to Study 1, Study 2 compared gay and heterosexual college men's expectations of antifat bias from a potential romantic partner. Participants rated how likely certain outcomes would be if they saw an overweight man hit on an attractive target (a man for gay participants or a woman for heterosexual participants). Gay men reported greater likelihood that the overweight man would be blatantly ignored, treated rudely, or mocked behind his back if he approached an attractive potential romantic partner. These studies suggest that antifat bias is a challenge for many members of the gay community, even those who are not technically overweight. Additionally, gay men expect other gay men to show these antifat biases when looking for a romantic partner.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-70
Number of pages8
JournalPsychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Antifat bias
  • Body image
  • Gay men

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Gender Studies

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