After seeing the TSM column on body-shaming, I really got to thinking: why do women think these shitty things about themselves? What good does it do to hate what you see in the mirror? Why does anyone have the right to make a person feel bad about the way his or her body is, either man or woman?
Obviously, there are hundreds of answers to the questions I posed. People think shitty things about themselves because they have low self-worth, or because they’ve never thought good things about themselves. People think that hating what they are will give them motivation to change who they are. People make other people feel like shit because we live in a comparative, competitive culture, and we hold the winners and beautiful people up on pedestals so they can spit on everyone else below them. It’s the way things are and it is honestly the worst thing in the world.
I could sit here and tell you to believe in yourself, but that would be just another voice telling you to do something. No, I’m going to tell you my experience with this whole mess, and maybe having a different point of view will allow you to introspect a little bit. Maybe you’ll start to think differently. That’s my goal. I wouldn’t write this if I didn’t want you to think about stuff.
My perspective about what a body is and should be is probably different than yours. I’m a large man. A huge man, in fact. I’m 6 foot 7 and I weight 285 pounds. I’m likely two or even three times as heavy as some of you reading this. Beyond that, in a given day, I’m likely to fluctuate a good five or six pounds from morning to evening. The bottom line is that I’m really big, and that isn’t always a good thing.
You see, when I look into the mirror, I am reminded of how large I am. When I am out walking around, people ask me how tall I am or what sport I play, which is funny because I used to play football, but now I’m a cheerleader. I am never let off the hook about how big I am, and I honestly don’t know how tall women do it, because the only thing that attracts more attention than a really tall man is a really tall woman. Seriously, you tall girls know what I’m talking about, because even I’m guilty of remarking on the height of tall women, and I get annoyed when people ask me about my height. I’d go insane, even though being tall is an awesome thing.
One of the “problems” that I’ve faced with being tall is not having clothes fit well. Sure, I can just throw on a XXL T-shirt, but I really wish that I could buy a nice-looking, slim fit button-up that my friends wear and look really nice in. I wish I could get nice fitting jeans for anything less than $80. I wish I could shop at stores that my friends shop at, and I wish I wouldn’t bulge out of a T-shirt. That’s not a good feeling, and I still struggle with the little voice in my head that says, “you’re too fat to wear nice clothes like that,” or “if you lost some weight, then maybe you would fit.” It’s that little bug of self-doubt that says that I’m the problem, and I absolutely hate it even though I know that it’s not because I’m fat or I’m too heavy. It’s just the fact that when my parents’ genetics high-fived and created me, I was destined to never be of average size, and normal designers don’t design clothes around the body types that are as far out on the bell curve as I am, because it wouldn’t make them money.
That’s why it breaks my heart to see women who are blessed with genetics to be of “normal” size go to such great lengths to try to be smaller. I have friends, girls on my cheer team, who say that they want to lose 15 pounds. If I were to lose 15 pounds, that would be a huge, unhealthy change in my life, and I’m twice the size of them. I have friends who I–as a shallow, fratty asshole–think are some of the hottest girls I’ve ever seen call themselves fat, and that just is straight-up false. While I sit over here wishing that there was anyone who made button-ups that don’t make me look like I’m an elder member of the mob, there are women who feel the need to drop from a size 8 to a size 6.
I don’t understand why the desire to be “attractive” coincides with the desire to be smaller. Literally everyone is different. You don’t NEED to be skinnier. You don’t NEED to have less fat on your body. You don’t NEED to compare yourself to people who are, at the core of everything, different than you are.
The only person you need to compare yourself to is yourself, with the realization that you are fine as long as you can do the things you need to do. I work out and exercise the way that I do because I need to be strong enough to protect the girls who I toss into the air. I don’t need a six-pack to do that, and the girls don’t care the size of my shirt so long as I can guarantee that I won’t mess up and cause them to break their arm, or worse.
I recognize that I won’t or can’t ever look just like the people I see on TV or in magazines. Sometimes it pisses me off that I can’t, but I’ve come to accept that fact, and I wish other people could, too. Being a giant has helped teach me the lesson that I don’t need to be skinnier, or toned, or tan, or have less fat on my body. I just need to be me. And as for the ladies? You just need to be you.