Do Gay Men Think Of Their Bodies Like a Calling Card?
Not once in my youth did I look in a mirror and loved what I saw. I hated my body – it betrayed me. I looked nothing like how I felt inside; my stomach, face, thighs, and hair were preventing me from becoming a happy and whole person. My life was warped inside a never-ending loop forcing me to relive the same idea every day: “I’m ugly.”
Ugly. It’s an awful word to say to anyone, much less yourself. It’s an evil façade based solely on what others think of you rather than what you think of you. There’s a social blue print we all know is there – if you don’t match it perfectly, you’re never going to be good enough for anyone. But who is it we’re trying to please? I mean, really.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be Macaulay Culkin. Not that he was the best looking child star by any sense, but he had what I wanted – fame, attention, respect, the “cute” factor, all of which made the world love him. I told my dad to take pictures of me so I can send them to a Talent Agent in town. I knew once he saw my picture he’d fall absolutely in love with me, just like Macaulay. Well, after a few weeks I never heard back from him so I forced my mom to call him. She made the mistake of putting him on speaker. “He’s too chubby and his face isn’t very attractive. I can’t do anything with him,” he said.
My experience is much like everyone else’s, but for gay guys in particular our bodies are not only a calling card, they’re pretty much the only thing we judge each other on at first impression. Our culture has created such high stakes for self-perfection that it’s no longer a goal, but rather a constant struggle. In order for something to be a goal, there needs to be a finish line – there is no finish line when it comes to perfection. Anything can be “perfected.” The sexiest man alive probably won’t view himself as perfect, even though the world might see him as such. There is no such thing as reaching perfection because the journey never ends. Instead of aiming for perfection, we ought to be striving for peace.
Here’s what I mean by peace. Have you ever cooked something you thought was amazing, but no one else seemed to think so? I have. Nearly every time my thought process is “Oh well, more for me.” I know it’s good stuff (and so do they) therefore I don’t give a hoot what anyone else thinks. Because of this, they begin to change their minds and realize that, in fact, it is quite delicious – why can’t we think this way about our bodies? When we’re at peace within ourselves, it’s obvious the only problem they have has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. Their perceptions on things are fudged, stained, and spoiled by a fantasy we all know is phony.
Body issues have nothing to do with our body, but rather the world’s appreciation for our bodies. Our issues aren’t with ourselves; they’re with the fantasy. We don’t hate our bodies. We hate the fact that we’re not a part of an idealistic standard that was placed on us by PR people, Magazine Editors, Fashion Designers, and everyone else involved in the machine. But the truth of the matter is everyone is a willing prisoner. We enjoy being submissive, we crave the standard – it’s how we’ve survived. We love comparing ourselves to other people; otherwise we’d have no forward direction, no way of growing. The body you’re assigned at birth is yours and yours alone. You can do whatever you want with it, and you can also think however you want to think about it. It starts with you.
It takes a strong-willed person to rid himself of a fantasy and appreciate their lives for how they feel rather than how they look. This is the goal all human beings strive to achieve. When they see another person do it, that person becomes something to envy. Loving yourself is the strongest asset you can have; more so than a six pack. Not all people want to have the perfect body, but if there’s one thing every human being on this planet wants, it’s peace.
I’m not a person who necessarily believes in heaven or hell. I believe the life we have right now is where we ought to focus on. This opportunity we have is IT. There’s no turning back from this gift of life. We can either live it the way it was meant to live or we can bow at the mercy of the world’s judgment. Personally, I’d rather leave the judging of myself for myself. It’s much easier that way.