Yes – even we guys suffer body image issues.
When I was a teenager I was bordering on morbidly obese. I didn’t eat terribly (though probably not the best) but I had a bunch of antidepressants and antipsychotics shoved down my throat due to what my parents and school counselors/faculty perceived as depressive and antisocial behavior (when it turns out I was high functioning autistic – my parents refused to accept it until the new counselor we got later in my public school career talked some sense into them) and they made me balloon in weight. That combined with hormonal teenager skin (a problem I still struggle with somewhat to this day) and I had serious body image issues all through school.
In undergrad I started losing the weight as I gradually came off of the medicines that didn’t really have much effect and I didn’t really apparently need anyway. As I came off and I started a diet and exercise routine I managed to lose a bit but I was still what would be considered overweight.
Then I went to grad school where I lost an appetite altogether from stress and I lost a shit ton of weight – at this point I was down to 160 pounds (I stand 5’11” by the way and am fairly big boned) – and everyone thought I looked absolutely sickly at that weight but I was actually content with my appearance at that point. I thought I looked good. I guess I wasn’t going to be satisfied with anything but pencil thin after having been chunky since about age 12. In a way I took on a warped sense of reality.
After my last relationship came to an end I turned to excessive emotional eating and alcohol intake and I gained about 40 pounds and was absolutely disgusted with myself even though everyone swore I didn’t look bad. I hated how I looked in the mirror even though I looked what a lot of people would consider normal but I still obsessed over it. I was overweight by the BMI (even as inaccurate as it is in my typical autistic self I took it as literal gospel truth) so I just had to lose the weight. I was unsuccessful in doing so and actually as I took on the stress of a new job (read: even more stress eating and even more alcohol consumption) I packed on some more weight.
Last year at my physical I weighed in at 220-ish pounds and was absolutely devastated. I decided I would drop some weight starting beginning of 2017 and I did just that. I spent the first half of this year dropping some excess weight and finally come June I decided I was good.
Truth be told I don’t even know what I weight right now and I’ve learned not to care. I’ve also accepted that I’ll never be a skinny mini again. I’m naturally big boned so being a skinny mini isn’t for me. I’ll also never be buff – I don’t have the genetics and no matter how much iron I pump I’ll never have a bodybuilder look. My arms are a constant source of self-conscience because they are relatively thin, however now that I have tattoos I want to be able to display those. Maybe come this time next year I’ll have the confidence to dawn a sleeveless shirt and show my artwork – it needs to be displayed after all.
I know, I know – I’m odd. I wear short shorts but not sleeveless shirts? Yeah well, my legs have always been my best physical feature I thought.
In some ways embracing tattoos and piercings has helped my body image also – it’s given me a stronger sense of self-ownership and bodily autonomy. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had that experience.
I took this mirror selfie about a week ago in full hippie garb to show a friend and I’m like “hey, I actually look good.” It’s been forever since I’ve felt that way.
It’s been a long road but it’s good to finally be at a point of self acceptance. I live a healthier lifestyle now (reasonable limits on food and alcohol consumption as well as maintaining exercise as time allows) so maintaining it shouldn’t be an issue. For reference, the shirt is a normal size large and the “Davy” Dukes (since I’m a guy I use “Davy” instead of “Daisy”) are a size 34. It’s been A LONG time since I’ve fit into a 34 and, although not pencil thin, I think is a good size for me.
As far as my next goals: get up the confidence to go sleeveless or even shirtless (definitely this too when I start getting my torso and sides tattooed) and swim in a speedo. Hey, why not, right? If others hate it, well, that’s their problem not mine, right? I’m finally in a state of body positivity and I’m not going to let someone else take that away from me.