Is It Hard For Gay Men To Get Over Body Image Issues?
We all have our obsessions. Some of us obsess over objects, others for food, boyfriends, even with themselves. What many of us fail to realize is that much of our obsessions are tied to a need to please not only our present state of minds, but our former ones as well – the life we led in high school, junior high, at church, or after school sports teams. Deep down, we’re trying to “make up” for lost times. Former fat kid syndrome is no different, but I can’t help but wonder if the journey is different when you’re also a homosexual man in today’s self-obsessed culture.
It’s difficult detoxing from yourself the person you’re so accustomed to being. You thought, ate, and were treated like a fat person all your life, but now that your body weight is normal and people are looking at you differently, how do you handle it? It’s like you’ve been given a second chance at life to make an impression on people and there’s nothing that will stop you from reaping it. The gym becomes a daily routine, calorie counting turns into a hobby, and you start obsessing over health and fitness fearing the pounds might trickle back without your permission. But what about the psychological tolls? Life as a former fat kid ain’t a bowl of cherries, especially when you’re gay.
Here’s a thing about not having “something” as a kid. Whether it’s smarts, money, or looks, you’re always going to envy the people who had “it” all their lives, even resent them for it. A person who made it into Harvard through hard work and sacrifices in their social life is probably going to resent a classmate who never had to work a day in their lives and got in because of his father. The same can be said for people with body image problems. Those who’ve struggled all their adolescence with weight, paid the price of getting teased, been hopeless in the love department, and needing to work twice as hard to get a slim figure are most likely going to be a little irritated with someone who can eat a box of Oreos and still be a skinny bitch the next morning. It’s called human behavior, and it’s normal.
Former fat kid syndrome is hard in the gay community because men in general are stimulated and aroused by visual images. So much so, that we’ve recently switched from judging them on a sexual level to judging them on a deeper, more personal, one. A big man crossing the street in West Hollywood isn’t only going to be judged by his appearance, but also his character – he’s lazy, he let himself go, he eats all the time, it’s his fault he’s so big. Trust me, these things are much easier said by people who spend four hours a day at the gym and have no life to speak of.
It’s hard saying goodbye to the old you. No matter how you look now, in your head, you’ll always be the fat kid. When you look in the mirror, you might like what you see but you also see the hypocrisy of the world within the frame of your reflection. People didn’t pay attention when you were big, but now that you’re thin, shouldn’t it tell you where their hearts lie? You’re still the same person, but now things have changed – and it’s making your perception on friends a bit extreme: “Will he break up with me if I gain back the weight?” or “Are they only being nice to me because I’m thin now?” or “I have to work twice as hard as them. It’s not fair” or “I need to show I’m just as good as them” or “I’m still not good enough.”
Former fat kid syndrome is intense because it makes you terrified of eating the wrong things and ballooning again or missing a gym day and gaining a couple pounds. When you haven’t experienced this kind of anxiety yourself, it’s frustrating to try and relate, but the truth of the matter is you can’t. All you can do is tolerate it and sometimes offer advice or knowledge. There is a huge amount of respect because, after all, they did lose all that weight and they did manage to change their life around. But has the focus on their body been so extreme they neglected to fix their minds as well?
The gay community isn’t a place that’s totally accepting of all body types. Most, if not all, gay role models we have in the media look straight out of a Magazine. I’m sad to say that gay guys have become culprits in the demise of inner beauty – everyone is guilty. It’s difficult trying to please the world by becoming what they expect, but even more so than the physical, it’s hard to reorganize our mental placement in society. It takes a while to get to know your self again, but trust me it’s worth the journey.
A few days without exercise will not make you gain the weight back. A few nights of eating pasta will not have you ballooning up again. A few mistakes here and there will not recreate bad habits. Habits come from steps, and those happen one day at a time. Each day is a gift. The last thing you want is to regret on your death bed that you were too focused on trying to be what everyone else wanted instead of living your life with purpose. Wholeness starts from inside. It’s there you will find the secret of self-worth – and it only grows from there.
The past needs to stay behind you. Everything to gain is directly in front of you to replant yourself. Revitalize. Regrow. Replenish. Now that you look the way you feel inside, shouldn’t you start to think that way too? Life is supposed to be embraced. No matter who you are, envying, calling out, judging, obsessing, or shaming someone who had a different experience is never going to make you feel better about your own. It just creates guilt, which is never going to be good for your soul. Live your life the only way you know how: by focusing on making yourself happy today.