May 29, 2010

Being Fiercely Real

So, something has been bothering me for a while now. A little while ago, I was chatting with an old high school friend of mine on Facebook that identifies as being a homosexual male. We were both talking about how we were trying to be more health conscious and go to the gym more. We both mentioned the, let’s just say… changes, our bodies have made over the years. I told him how I wanted to get back to my senior year/ freshman year body because I was really happy with myself then. He replied with an “lol.” But what he said next is what really bothers me. He added that he wants to make sure that he looks good for the boys. Now, just to give you some comparison, we are the same age, same height, similar build, and I’m bigger than he is. My fitness goals are less than his. After bringing this up to him, he replies that the only thing that matters to gay guys is how many abs you have and how big the rest of your muscles are. I was taken aback by this. I won’t even begin to go into all the thoughts that ran around in my head. I asked him if he was like that. Response: “No. But I know what people want and I’m going to do anything I can to give it to them.”

I was floored. I know that body image is very important to a lot of people, but is that really the ONLY thing that is considered when considering if someone is attractive? Do I really have to have rock-hard abs and be able to bench 250lbs to be considered hot? Are gay guys really that vapid and shallow? Speaking from my personal experience, thankfully not all are, but I do know that there are some people (of all different identities and sexualities) that take physical appearance as the only deciding factor. But please for my sanity, tell me that it’s not as large of a population as I fear.

It’s something that I’ve noticed a lot, not only in the gay community but in society as a whole. Everywhere you look, you see the models with their flawless skin, amazing physique, perfect hair, immaculate smile. I look and wonder if that is really the concept of beauty. If it is, then what in the world am I?! My skin is far from flawless, my body is decent but could be a lot better, I could use a haircut right now, but I do have a pretty nice smile if I do say so myself. But should I have to break my back at the gym everyday for 2 hours or starve myself for weeks on end to look like all the models do? Do I really care that much about getting called “hot” by some air-headed, shallow, gym rat? NO FREAKING WAY!

Don’t get me wrong, I will still go to the gym and try to adopt healthier eating habits but it won’t be anything drastic and it is not because I want to be one of the “beautiful people” as I like to call them. It is because I (extra emphasis on that “I”) want to do it for myself.

On Tyra Banks’ show (yes, I watch her show every once in a while), she did a special episode about plus-size women and how they can and should feel happy and comfortable in their body. Tyra gave them style tips and the whole nine yards. Also, she didn’t call them plus-size women. She called them “Fiercely Real.” I’ll admit that I burst into laughter at this new title, not because of who the title was for but just because it’s Tyra and everything is fierce in one way or another to her. Anyway, I actually loved that episode. There is absolutely nothing wrong with going to the gym for 2 hours everyday if you want to do it for yourself. If you are like me and actually like having a little extra warmth on you, then you go right ahead and stay warm! Do you and that’s all you can do. As soon as you try to do someone else, then my friend, we have a problem.

So here’s another warning from me to everyone, but especially for our Community because I see it a lot within us: Don’t let anyone dictate to you how you should live your life or how you should look. If YOU think you look good, great. If someone else has a problem with it, tell them this: Build a bridge and get over it.

Peace and blessings.

And here’s a little something completely unrelated but I think you should know about it because it is absolutely amazing.

6 comments:

  1. AJ, I am so glad you wrote about this. I think it's so important to talk about body image even though no one really likes to. I've always been really frustrated that our society could make any person feel anything but beautiful. I’m not sure when was the last time I talked with someone about inner beauty, but we seem to pass over it so much. It’s so easy to get tricked into the mentality that your worth isn’t the person you are.

    Also, your friend's quote was really interesting. I honestly don't really know where I stand with drawing the line between appreciating the way someone looks and making that the single focus. I think your advice of just being defined by yourself is really great though. =)

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  2. bahahaha I love that push up bra video...oh man...
    Anywhoo...

    I love that you wrote about this. I was watching the Dana Carvey comedy special: "Squatting Monkeys tell no Lies" last night and he mentioned that all straight women are looking for is a really built and muscular guy with a sensitive side. To this, Dana quickly replied "But ladies, that man doesn't want you, because THAT man has a boyfriend."

    This said two things to me:
    1. Am I supposed to be looking for that? Because I most definitely look for health in a partner, but not necessarily rock hard pecs/abs. (Not to mention that I like my geeky boys and I like them a lot.)
    and 2. Are all gay guys supposed to be both very emotionally intuituve but, more importantly, have an Herculean Physique? Now, I know my fair share of LGBT-identified males, and the vast majority are not with that build. But, it seems to me that the biggest complaint they all have is that they're not muscular enough or that they want to get more built. They always complain that no man will love a pudgy or superskinny man. This is really worrisome to me, because after a lifelong battle with childhood obesity I've seen my share of diets/exercise gone bad. I can't even imagine all the pressure from stereotypes of top of that.

    I just wish that everyone were happy with being "Fiercely Real."

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  3. I've noticed the prevalence of body image issues in this community, too, AJ, so I'm glad you were brave enough to write about it! Let's face it, the fact is that low self-esteem is common among gays. And when you don't feel good about yourself, you bring others down (e.g., the all-too-popular making fun of "fatties"). It's not worth it to concern yourself with superficial things, like who's hot or popular and who's not. The "friends" you gain by doing that aren't worth your time.

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  4. you gotta admit though, looking sloppy and out of shape will not get you laid no matter what...just saying

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  5. I love that you found it in yourself to bring up an issue that we all have at least at one point in our lives thought about. I also like the variation in comments especially the one right above me. It is true that it seems the only thing people want in an ideal partner these days is a "hot bod". With that said, it is important to see that romantic interest really depends on the intentions of the person. If one isn't looking for something more meaningful than a quick hook-up, which I'm not saying is bad or good, then maybe it's just easier to find the beefiest by being the beefiest. On the other hand if one is looking for a long term relationship that will involve being able to accept the other person inside and out maybe good looks don't mean everything. I personally believe that physical attraction is a precursor to romantic interest. You are not gonna notice the other person's personality before you see him or her unless it's some sort of internet meeting. At the same time, at least for me, it takes more than good looks to keep romantic interest. Truth is if good looks are the only things that the person has going for them then romantic interest will inevitably vanish because there is nothing left to back it up. Ironically enough just having great looks is like a delicious desert. It looks great and it probably tastes great but in the long run it's just empty calories.

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  6. I guess if you want to go out and get a hookup for a night, looks do matter, but if you want love, it matters much, much less. "Sloppy" and "out of shape" could accurately describe the person I'm with about 50% of the time...and I think this person is the hottest, most awesome person I have ever been with. I dont care if they put on 20 lbs, and they certainly would still love me if I did.

    My 2 cents.

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