"We have the powers of co-creation," he said. "That's a teaching of the Hindu Vedas. It's remarkable how much power we have to change our physical bodies."
But not all gay men are able to live up to Bianchi's standards, even with a rigorous diet and exercise regiment. Patrick Giles, in a critique of Bianchi published in the Harvard Gay & Lesbian Review, pointed this out. "What about heredity, somatotype, [or] the greater inherent potential of big-muscled people over the smaller-muscled?"
Giles points out that money is also a factor. According to a 2012 LGBT community survey, a higher percentage of gays than straights pay for gym memberships, personal trainers, and weight management programs. This is great for those who can afford such things--but what about those who can't? There's also the question of motivation. Research shows that gay men tend to take care of their bodies more than straight men. But the same research shows gay men are motivated less by the desire to be healthy, and more "for the express purpose of increasing attractiveness."
But whether we're limited by our genes or our funds, it's clear that not all gay men live up to Bianchi's standards. And the fact is - we shouldn't feel like we have to.
As far as Giles is concerned, beauty acts hierarchically in the gay community. Those who have the resources to "Adonize" their bodies are rewarded with power and influence. Everyone else is excluded—and then blamed for not working harder.
Bianchi admits his photography showcases a certain muscular ideal, but he argues that it's hardly unique to his work, or to gay culture. "Our human ancestors recognized that if a man was strong enough to catch prey, then he was attractive."
"Look at Michelangelo's David," he continued. "Muscles have always been signifiers of the power of being, and that's very attractive to us."
But is it true that male muscularity has always been idealized throughout history? Cultural historian George Mosse argues that Bianchi's ideal man is a relatively new invention. In his book The Image of Man, Mosse dates the idealization of the male physique to the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815). That isn't to say Bianchi is wrong, it's just to admit that not all historians agree with the assertion that history shows a ubiquitous privileging of muscularity.
In other words, sure, there's Michelangelo's David—but let's not forget about Donatello's.
The Russian put me on a strict diet after our first night together: No carbs or sugar—not even fruit. When waitresses offered me dessert, he would tell them we only wanted the check. He took me to hot yoga a few days a week, and the gym on the other days. And there was no more midnight munching.
In five weeks I lost 30 pounds. One year later, I lost him.
The obvious question is, why did I allow my boyfriend to influence how I saw my body? The simplest answer is that I didn't want to lose him. He was a hot, Jewish doctor from Eastern Europe with green eyes and a gorgeous physique. There were plenty of other "qualified" guys for him to date, and so I thought I should try to make my body look like theirs.