Jonathan Van Ness wants more people to recognize that body image issues can be difficult for anyone, regardless of gender expression.
The Queer Eye star, 32, said that he struggled with disordered eating growing up, which was made worse by the lack of conversation about male body image.
“We talk about body shaming, body positivity and what the female gender encounters in that realm. I think in the male side that is not talked about quite as much, and I know I was severely impacted by that my whole life,” he told Allure editor-in-chief Michelle Lee on The Allure Podcast.
Van Ness said that his struggles led to “eating disorders, [a] weird relationship with food, for sure.”
The grooming expert said that he came to realize that the socially expected male beauty standards are not wide enough for his looks.
“I think what really has changed the most is that I’m aware of the unrealistic beauty expectations that are forced down their throats, and that they always have been, and have narrower ideas of what beauty are,” he said. “And really, it’s realizing that this system doesn’t fit me. It’s not that I don’t fit the system.”
Van Ness, who recently revealed in his new memoir Over the Top that he is HIV positive, also talked about pushing his dad on his political beliefs.
“I think he made meaningful strides on realizing why his supporting Donald Trump with an HIV positive gay child was such an affront and why I was so moved to nausea by his callous lack of understanding for how that would affect me so deeply,” Van Ness said. “I will tell you this as well, now he is completely aware of how deeply it affects me.”
Van Ness said that his dad ended up voting for Independent Gary Johnson in 2016. But his dad and stepmom have shifted their views over the last three years, and attended Pride in Columbia, Missouri in “Yes Queen” shirts.
“He is someone who I don’t think would vote for an independent candidate in the next election,” Van Ness said of his dad.
And with his memoir now on sale, Van Ness shared his hopes for his readers.
“I want people to be able to take joy [from his book] because life is joyful,” he said. “And I think that being able to have the opportunity to experience life is painful, it is joyful, it is tragic, it is jubilant. It is a cacophony of opposites and that is what life is. And I think that really the path is finding the balance in all of it.”
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