Mina Gerges became Insta-famous back in 2015 after recreating the looks of Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, and Kim Kardashian. He quickly developed a following of nearly 150,o00. But as his Instagram star rose, so did his number of haters, many of whom taunted him for his size. Eventually, the bullying got to be too much and Mina deactivated his account.
But after seeing a recent survey by the National Eating Disorder Association, which found that over half of LGBTQ youths surveyed had suffered from an eating disorder, Mina decided to reactivate his account and focus on body positivity and breaking down the stigma around male eating disorders.
“There are so many gay men who’ve been through what I’ve been through,” he says in a new interview with Paper magazine. “There are statistics about how prevalent eating disorders and body image issues are amongst gay men and I’m seeing that firsthand through the comments or DMs I’ve been getting.”
Gay men, 23-year-old Mina explains, have been programed to “idealize that fit, sculpted body” and you see it everywhere–from event posters to Grindr and other dating apps.
“It filters into the kind of attitude people have when they write ‘no fats no fems’ in their dating app bios,” he continues, “and it’s evident when you see the Instagays who post shirtless pictures to their thousands of followers who idolize their bodies.”
Mina hopes by talking about the issue it will help bring about change.
“I hope that as a community, we can dismantle these problematic attitudes that so many have normalized and work to be more inclusive and diverse.”
Scroll down for a sampling of yummy pics from Mina’s Instagram page…
This is the scariest yet most empowering post I’ve ever made. I’ve struggled with my weight and body image my whole life. I grew up surrounded by unrealistic pictures of men and women that convinced me that I have to look like that to be considered attractive and desirable. Especially as gay men, where unfortunately so many of us struggle with achieving that unrealistic standard to feel beautiful. Trying to achieve this made me develop an eating disorder when I was 20 – I would starve myself, weight myself every morning, spend 3 hours at the gym and ran 10km every day, and hated myself if I ate something “unhealthy”, and still, never found happiness or satisfaction. Now at 23, I’m finally confident and comfortable in my skin, and she’s glowing ? The stretch marks and love handles I was bullied for are the very thing I feel empowered by now. I know I’ll never look like the dudes we see in billboards and fashion ads, and that’s okay because I’m still cute AF with my cute little belly and squishyness. Learning self love and being confident is such a beautiful thing, and I’m so lucky to be able to have this platform to share it with you guys. ??
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I turn 23 today and I want to share a very personal journey with all of you. I’ve struggled with my body image and weight my whole life, growing up bombarded by unrealistic images of men with sculpted bodies all over magazines and billboards. I always wanted to look like them, thinking that was the only way I could be considered attractive. After these recreations went viral 3 years ago, I started to struggle with my mental health, and began seeking comfort in food. I put on a lot of weight (I love pizza, as you may already know). Gaining this weight never made me hate my body, but the online bullying I experienced took a huge toll on me. People commented on my photos everyday calling me fat and ugly, making fun of my stretch marks and love handles, commenting things like “wow you used to be hot what happened to you” as if I wasn’t a real person who was impacted by these cruel words. It ruined my self esteem. I would get anxious before logging on because I knew I would see a hateful comment that’ll ruin my day. I stopped going out in public because I was afraid people in real life were secretly disgusted by my body. I remember looking in the mirror before going out one night and literally breaking down crying because I couldn’t stop thinking about people’s mean comments. I deactivated this account for almost a year (October 2015 – June 2016) because I needed a mental health break and needed to regain my confidence, knowing that so many of you look up to me for that. Losing almost 60 pounds from Feb to September this year wasn’t about one picture looking “better” – it was about learning to love my body and embrace that it’s different. These stretch marks (and whatever else people bullied me for) are a reminder of my journey towards self love and my triumph over several eating disorders and body dysmorphia. I loved my body in the “before” picture and after this long struggle with loving what I see in the mirror despite being bullied for my body, here’s to making 23 the year of self-love & body positivity ??
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