Pride Month has this Digger pondering all kinds of pride. I’ve discovered that we can have body pride and still pursue healthy body change.
Confessions of a skinny teenage twinkadink
When I was growing up, beefy muscle was IN, and I was teased as the ‘skinny fag,’ There is a common misconception that teasing for being underweight is flattery but teasing for being overweight is inappropriate. Let’s be real – words have power and can lead to body shame in all sorts of directions.
Back then I, like most, wanted to become the cultural ideal – big, lean, muscles popping out all over. Imagine a condom filled with walnuts. I had fantasies of returning to a future high school reunion like the 98 pound weakling on the beach with sand kicked in my face, showing up the bullies with my monster truck size muscles.
Then in college I came out of the closet and took my skinny ass to the gay bar. Sure the muscle dudes got more attention, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that some dudes dig the Digger, skinny and all. I then decided it would be easier to change my attitude than it would be to change my body. Besides, even if I did pump up my titties all monster-size, I knew that aging would eventually deflate said titties. Then they’d be like big saggy potato titties. At some point in this life, I’ll need an attitude adjustment anyway. So why not now?
So I decided to cultivate my self-confidence and body pride. Ironically, I found inspiration from of the meatheads at high school who used to tease me. If those knuckleheads can be confident then I certainly deserve confidence. To anyone lacking confidence: think of our current president Cheeto in charge, No. 45 (he whose name shall not be spoken). If that imbecile can be as confident as he is, then I don’t care who you are, you deserve confidence too. Fake it till you make it, baby. When confronted with a choice, I thought: what would a confident person do? And then I would follow suite. Eventually I even started to believe it.
I worked to remove, avoid, and ninja block attacks on my confidence. I intentionally chose friends who lift me up and avoided negative people. One night at the club this dude gave me a backhanded compliment that I’m handsome, but I really need to put some more meat on my bones. I responded, “Look, it took me a long time to love and accept my body where it’s at, keep your body issues to yourself bud.”
I also have to credit the privilege of a family that fosters my confidence. Family has such a lasting effect on so much in our lives. If I was raised in a toxic or homophobic family I would have probably needed psycho-therapy to help. Thanks, mom & dad, love ya!
I have tried hanging out in the body beautiful gay boy scene a few times in my life. I can still see hot pulsating ripped pecs glistening in the disco ball raveshine. But I often felt searing judgement from such crowds. This one time at a place I’ll call ‘Club Perky Pecs aPlenty’, almost everyone had their shirts off, including skinny little twinkadink me. In line for the restroom, I turned to the chesty stranger behind me for friendly banter. My “How’s your night?” was met with a glare, slowly and disapprovingly inspecting my skinny chest up and down, and ending with a dramatic roll of the eyes away from me toward nowhere. If I took things personally I could have felt ashamed of my body. But instead I realized this was obviously the wrong crowd and never returned.
About 10 years later, after discovering the gym, I developed quite a ripped body myself. Still thin, but this fruit was ripe. A friend invited me back to that scene with the assurance: “…now you have the body for it so you should come.” What, so I can invest in relationships that will only last as long as this body does? Oh, so I’ve finally made it to the IN crowd until I grow OUT? All life is gonna age. If my value is based on my external beauty what happens when it fades?
Bless the Token Naked Dudes
At Pride and many San Francisco street fairs festivals you’ll spot the token naked dudes in attendance – nothing sexual, just being naked. They are usually older, probably because it can take a lifetime to cultivate acceptance of our bodies in this body-shame culture. I have always commended these bold statements of body pride. It’s easy to have body pride if you fit our cultural ideal, which is why I especially commend those who don’t. Kudos, I say!
In life I intentionally sought out and am grateful for a community that judge more on the contents of the present than the wrapping. Cultivating supportive friends, faking it till I made it, and protecting my confidence from this body-shame culture has been foundational to self-love and acceptance.
And by the way, as it turned out, when that high school reunion came I didn’t return super muscly. Even better, I returned proud to still be a skinny fag.
How do you cultivate body pride in yourself and others?