Men struggle with body positivity too
No chubs. No fatties. It’s not discrimination. It’s just my preference.
This is something I read often scrolling through Grindr, the gay dating app. Every time I read that I knew that they were addressing me. I would try to hide my body, only posting pictures with clothes on – or I wouldn’t show body pics at all.
But then there’d be the times where someone would send me a message asking for nudes. For a while, I wouldn’t even send them. But then I would, praying the person wouldn’t block me upon seeing them. Each block I received was a blow to my self-confidence. I’d try to take nudes at certain angles, which would require various attempts just to get the right picture. But my problems with my body started long before Grindr.
I was an average size kid throughout my early childhood. I would have people make comments like “damn, how can you eat so much and still be skinny.” Well, eventually it hit me. Around the age of 11, I started to gain weight. All throughout my teenage years and early adulthood, I was overweight. My highest weight was 275 at 6 feet tall.
Then, there was a time around the age of 11 in which I went to a public pool with family and friends. I took my shirt off, but I covered my chest. I didn’t think anything of it. But then I started getting comments from friends asking me why I was covering myself like a “female.” I was mortified because any accusation of me being feminine or gay was terrifying. But on top of that, my man boobs were pointing out. After that day, I didn’t go shirtless in a pool or beach until last year at age 25. I would always wear a shirt and make sure it wasn’t white.
Fear of the locker room
Throughout my teenage years, I would make sure I wasn’t seen shirtless. I despised locker rooms in high school. I remember the first day of my freshmen year when the gym teacher said it was mandatory to wear gym clothes and that we would be changing in the locker rooms. The idea of having to change in front of a bunch of boys was traumatizing, not only because of my body issues but as a gay “closeted” teenager I was not comfortable around a bunch of overly-masculine heterosexual boys with barely any clothes. I did not want to experience bullying and be laughed at for my body.
Quite frankly, I don’t remember much from the locker room. I just know I would change as quickly as possible and would do it where nobody was around. Even in my own home, I would change in the bathroom. I never walked around the house without a shirt.
As a teenager and adult, I would always selectively choose the clothing that I would buy, avoiding certain clothes that would show my man boobs or my belly. Eventually, when I went to a four-year university and moved out of my parent’s home, I started working out every weekday, as well as eating smaller portions. I felt like the environment of living with my family hindered my ability to control what I ate; I had a binge eating disorder.
During a process of about two years, I lost 100 pounds. I thought that after losing weight, I’d have six-pack abs and a body, but that was not the case. I had a small figure but was too skinny. And the extra skin made it look as if I was still overweight. So, despite having lost weight, I still felt fat.
I felt extremely unwanted. Especially within the gay community, I felt as though gay men could be quite superficial and body-focused. So due to not feeling attractive in my sexual encounters, I felt I needed to change that.
Eventually, around the end of 2018, I got an abdominoplasty (also known as a tummy tuck) performed to remove my extra skin in my torso and waist. The pain was horrendous for the first three days. I was asking myself during those few days why in the hell would I put myself through this. I was barely able to walk. In fact, it hurt when I moved any part of my body during those first few days. After the initial few days, the pain was minimal, and after 6 weeks I was good to do normal activities.
After the surgery
So now I had this new body. But was I happy? Not exactly.
I still had extra skin around my ass, my big ole thighs, and extra skin on my chest that looked like boobs. I tried going to the gym to do weightlifting. But if I’m being honest, I despise the gym. After going almost every day for two years and doing the same thing repeatedly, I did not want to go again. Even during the two years that I went consistently, I hated waking up every day at 6 AM. Despite a flat stomach, I was not happy with the rest of my body.
Then there was a very painful moment with a friend of mine with some particularly good benefits. We had had lots of fun before this moment. And one day, let’s just say he was having some erectile dysfunctions. The moment got awkward. He left the room, and I was in the bed alone deep in my unhealthy thoughts. I felt my body was not attractive enough. I felt as though the surgery that cost me thousands of dollars was not worth it if I still had an undesirable body. He eventually saw me crying and asked why. I told him why I was crying. He assured me it wasn’t me but rather him.
Learning to love myself
Fast forward to last year. I was scrolling through Grindr. I came upon a profile of an overweight guy who was shirtless. He had photos posted of him in lingerie, swimsuits, and semi-nude. I was surprised because seeing such photos on Grindr is uncommon. Usually, many of the guys I dated in the past would only post photos in clothes. I was inspired by his confidence in himself. If this guy can love himself enough and feel confident with his body, why do I have to hide?
Within a few days, I took some sexy NSFW photos of myself. I put them on my Grindr profile with confidence. I felt as though if a person sees my shirtless self and my stretch marks right away, and they message me, it will mean they were already interested in me. I never received a block after releasing my nudes after that.
Today I can say that although I don’t fully love my body, I do accept it. I am comfortable enough with my body that I no longer desire to have more surgeries. I am comfortable enough to go to the pool and beach without a shirt. I am no longer concerned about the men who don’t want me due to my physical flaws. I want myself. I want to be healthy, loved, and happy. I can no longer allow my body to affect my mental health and happiness.
I am not perfect. I have moments of low confidence, but overall, I’m great. Confidence is not a permanent state; it fluctuates. So although I have moments of doubt, overall, I feel proud of my accomplishments and comfortable enough to love me for me.
Photo credit: Sam Burriss, Unsplash