Exposing40

Friends. Photography. Adventure.

Tag: weight

Lightweight, part two

A couple of months ago I wrote Lightweight, exploring the issue of weight when there’s less of it. At the time I said I wanted to cover this issue more and I have spoken before about wanting to see more men on Exposing 40. Last night a friend read out a Facebook post from one of her male friends. As soon as she started reading I just knew I wanted to post it here. Happily he said yes, so I am very honoured to repost some very powerful and important words about male body positivity.

Anders, by Wolfgang Tillmans

Anders, by Wolfgang Tillmans


I had a busy couple of days this past weekend, (heck, the last couple of weekends), but I’ve had a lot of time to think in between and there have been a few things stuck in my head, bouncing around, that I’ve thought about sharing including one very personal thing about my journey to get in shape. This week I crossed a threshold that I’ve never crossed before in my entire life. Today I weighed in at over 150 lbs for the first time ever (152 to be exact). I don’t like to talk about my weight and almost never mention it because it usually comes with someone making a comment about me being lucky or “I wish I had that problem” but I’ve struggled with my weight all my life; not getting rid of it, putting it on. Growing up, and even in early adulthood, I was constantly inundated with people telling me I need to eat more or saying I look like I was starving and need to put on some weight or any number of beanpole references. I didn’t even break 100 lbs until I was almost in college.
One time when was about 16 I went to a friend’s relative’s house for dinner. She kept insisting I eat more because I was so skinny. She plopped seconds on my plate and pushed dessert in front of me. I tried to politely refuse but ended up giving in, and shortly after dinner threw up in the bathroom from eating so much. I never told my friend or his mom, but it felt horrible. I was so embarrassed and felt unbelievably ashamed. It was like that at a lot of dinners when I was a kid, although thankfully not with my close family. People saw my weight as a problem they needed to fix or at least tell me how to fix.
Being the skinniest boy in Junior and High school also meant I was voted most likely to get my ass kicked for no reason other than most people could. As an adult it got slightly better but still had its issues. For my first real professional job, I had to shop in the boys section at the department store to find dress pants that would fit me.
Needless to say I’ve had a pretty bad body image almost my entire life, but I never talk about it. Partly because I know so many people struggle with losing weight and see being skinny as the perfect way to be, and partly because no one takes it seriously. I’m not trying to say that what I’ve gone through is harder or worse than what anyone else has gone through regarding any body shaming but what I felt was and is real nonetheless.
But today I’m proud. Today I’m happy for me. I smiled at a scale for the first time in my life. And it was a real scale! The kind with the sliding weights and everything. And I didn’t have shoes or heavy clothes on either. This was legit.
I share this because for the first time in my life I’m starting to feel good about my body, and that’s something that guys (and particularly skinny guys) never ever talk about, but I can assure you there are lots of us who feel it. We just can’t and don’t talk about it.
I love my body right now and it makes me happy, and if I can share my happy and cause someone else feel that way too, then sharing is worth it.
 

Lightweight

IMG_3880Ah, weight. That thorny issue. I almost didn’t write for this week’s Wicked Wednesday prompt because despite my blog being about body positivity, I couldn’t really think of anything to say about my own weight that didn’t make me sound smug or like an annoying motivational speaker. But actually, I do have something to say about weight. Weight isn’t fat. Fat is fat. Weight is weight and whether you’re slight and androgynous or bountifully buxom you have a weight. And you know what? I kind of think those of us whose weight tips the upper end of the scales have a louder voice in the body positivity conversation and it’s not something I am that comfortable with.
I completely understand why this is and why our right to own and celebrate our beauty and sexiness, whatever our shape or weight, should not be taken away.  And I am in no way questioning the damaging impact promoted ‘ideals’ of beauty that are pedalled by the fashion and beauty industry have on our self-esteem. I just think that in celebrating our big beauty we should be careful not to silence the voices of lighter women who have as much right to form a healthy relationship with their body as we do.
Last summer I had a conversation about this blog with a friend of a friend who is tiny in height and weight. Tears prickled in my eyes when she recounted stories of being dubbed a ‘concentrate camp victim’ at school and how now, as a Mum at the school gates, she feels excluded and judged by women talking about post-baby bodies. Of course a slim woman has as much right to talk about changes in her body as a result of motherhood as one who is trying to shift a few pounds, but do we ever really think about that? Do we think to involve slimmer women in conversations about weight or consider how they may also need a morale boost? That chat was a wakeup call  for me about the dangers of believing that because someone is slim they must be happy with their body.
And when we assume the primary reason a woman is loved is because she is slim we reduce her relationship with her partner to being about her body. We ignore her intelligence, her kindness, her spirit, that she might inspire her partner to be a better person, that they make an awesome team that’s greater than the sum of their parts. I am pretty sure nobody has ever once looked at me and thought ‘I bet he loves hanging out with her because of that big squishy belly’ so why do people so often think a partnership where a woman is slim must be built on the foundation of her body? Of course our relationships need a big dose of mutual ‘wow, you’re hot, I want to fuck you’ but the fact that most of us find a whole range of physical types attractive means chemistry and good partnerships are quite clearly about so much more than the body.
IMG_0173Slimness, also, does not equal healthiness. I sometimes quip ‘I’m fat but fit’ in reference to my ability to happily and slowly plod around 26 miles despite my belly being a homage to the awesomeness of cheese and wine. Jokes aside, I am confident about my fitness levels; I have no question in my mind that I am significantly healthier than an old flatmate who is markedly slimmer than me, yet smokes, frequently goes without meals and barely exercises. A slim but sedentary body will never be as healthy as a big one that moves.
Related to this is the bullshit notion that women exercise primarily as a way to lose weight. I am not saying it isn’t a massive motivator for some. Of course it is and that’s fine. I am currently engaged in a ridiculous programme of high intensity interval training as a way to quickly shift the results of two months of post-marathon partying. I’m cool with this. It’s problem and solution exercising. The exercise that enriches me and makes me feel mentally lighter is the running, the long walks, the quiet weekday swims in an almost empty pool. That exercise is about the whole of me, not my waistline. A slim woman expressing disappointment at not having time for a run or a gym session will often hear ‘oh, don’t worry – you don’t need to exercise’. It is meant to be encouraging but it means her exercise becomes about her weight and not about the headspace it gives her or the endorphin rush she gets or how it improves her energy or reduces stress.
I don’t think anyone who is likely to be reading this blog has ever intentionally made a slim person feel bad. It’s not how this lovely community plays! But I bet many of us have unintentionally said or thought something that assumes a slim person automatically feels good about themselves just because they are slim. One of the things I think is most telling is the relative lack of posts and photographs we see that explore slim issues. I had a conversation with another friend last summer and she mentioned how as a slim woman it’s hard to have a real voice in the body positivity space for fear of being judged. I said then I wanted to explore this with Exposing 40 and I mentioned it again in my Christmas post. But here we are in July and I have done nothing more! So, feel free to hold me to account on this! Let’s widen the conversation. If you have something to add I would love to share your thoughts and photos here. I have written this largely from a woman’s perspective but as ever I am always interested to hear from anyone with anything to say.

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked

© 2019 Exposing40

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑