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Thursday, January 9, 2014

On Body Image

*Warning, deep thoughts follow. Profanity likely, brutal honesty all but assured.*

So, the last two days I've been dealing with, what I can only call, an issue. Not uncommon for me as I have plenty of issues that need to be dealt with (haven't forgotten about the therapy thing, I'm looking ... it's depressing). But these last two days I've felt this issue to be particularly nagging. It just doesn't want to go away.

Last night, I was fortunate enough to receive a literal answer to a wish of mine concerning this. I was on my way back from work and wanted a story prompt to be posted, that way I could write a story dealing with this issue. I tend to write to deal with issues (if you're reading this then you know this). I got that prompt and I wrote that story. I was pleased how it turned out, but it just missed the mark about what I was aiming for personally.

Sure, the main character in it had body image problems, but she was upset about a lot more. As well as she should be. What I was feeling translated but translated differently than the direct method.

Here we are, at the direct method. Now, it's not uncommon for people to have body image issues. It's much more common for the female of the species to be accused of having such issues than the males, and there seems to be a misconception out there that it's more prevalent among girls than guys.

I don't know if that's true, but I would like to argue that the gap isn't as wide as some would think. I'd like to offer myself up as proof. I've been looking around lately and I see a lot of girls fawning over guys that I can never be. The tall. The handsome. The bronze. The six-pack flashing, charming, man of their dreams.

For every girl the type is different, and even then the physical characteristics are different too. But it hit me -- rather hard I must admit -- the other night that, should I ever be so fortunate to marry (everyone says it's likely and I'm not going to end up alone; if this is an odds thing, haven't we established I tend to not go by odds? A subject for another day), that my nonexistent wife would have such a guy in mind, somewhere.

And, let's be honest, she'd know what said guy looked guy with most of his clothes off.

I didn't sleep much. At all, really. Because my brain spun this out into a lot of unpleasant directions. First off, my nonexistent wife would be measuring me up against this stud of a dude. I'm not a stud. I realize I'm not what I was once (a complete fat guy), but I'm not a stud. Decent, maybe. I've been told I look "fine." Not "fine" that equates to "hot" but "fine" that equates to "neutral". A "fine" that is basically a shrug and "you're okay."

I don't want to be that. I would love to have a six-pack and guns. Definable shoulders would be nice (my shoulders barely exist). My form is ... not very manly, to be honest. I have girlish hands (literally, my hands are as big or SMALLER than some girls I know). My face is incapable of growing a real beard, I constantly look like a teenager (not really complaining ... only somewhat complaining) and I have limits as far as my strength is concerned (better than I was but still).

Part of the reason some people go Primal is to Look Good Naked, or LGN as it's referred to on the site. I didn't get into it for that at all. I didn't think it was going to work so why worry about me being naked? It wasn't like anyone was going to see me. No one would want to.

But, here I am a success (maybe?) and the LGN thing is in big, neon letters in my head. How will my nonexistent wife judge me, exactly? I can't show her what I was like before. People assume I've always been this way now and I haven't. Telling them the story and showing them some pictures is one thing, but there's only one picture in existence of me at my worst in a swimsuit and by fate, or luck, it was lost. Well, the SD card it was on was lost or it got deleted. Whatever the case, it's gone.

So ... nonexistent wife will, by this point, know I haven't always been like this and that I of course made myself into this through sheer luck, a lot of help, and an unhealthy dose of stubbornness. But the scars still remain, specifically on the sad lump of loose skin that still hangs around my midsection. Stretch marks like fissure cracks riddle the skin from all sides. It's not very appealing (aside: if the stretch marks were a result of having lots of kids, like it is on some women, than at least that'd be honorable, but the marks are a result of me being a dumbass about my health ... so, not honorable). Looks less so with everything else nude. The rest of my body is all right; there's damage there but it's tough to see without knowing where to look. The loose skin is not tough to see.

I worry about that. It's not even more than a remote possibility at this point and I've been freaking out about it the last two days.

And then my brain threw out the next thing: swimsuit season.

It's coming. It's only a few months away and I'm as awkward in a swimsuit as I've ever been. I won't hide it, I can and probably should, but I won't. I did the damage. I did the crime, that is the consequence. But it's a hellish time of year and there hasn't been a year since I was 8-years-old that I've looked forward to being in a swimsuit.

I hate it. Go and show off my worst features to the unsuspecting public? Sure, sign me up. Oh, and can I have a side of rat poison with that?

Meeting a girl during swimsuit season is basically impossible with the competition. Just can't be done. See, this is where looking like a teenager has a disadvantage; during swimsuit season I'm judged against THEM. If people knew I was 25 and not 15, I'd look a lot better compared to my peers. I don't guzzle beers, am not recovering from crazy college antics, and don't knock back colas at a shocking rate.

But I'm judged against the teenagers. I never had the skinny, lean body as a teenager that my youngest brother does. But I am judged against his type and I fail that judgment spectacularly. I have visible damage that just isn't able to be hidden during swimsuit season.

So, after running through those two things, my brain threw one final thing my way: being as unattractive and flawed as I am, what exactly am I going to do on my wedding night with my nonexistent wife? She'll want no part of this. Lights out, huh?

I sat there and ran through the scenarios. None were pleasant. The thought occurred to me that maintaining virginity till marriage is an outdated mindset anyway. It's not a positive in today's culture, as it used to be. Being a virgin, at 25, makes me strange. Weird. I am likely to be the noob in any sexual relationship if I maintain that.

As we all know, being a noob sucks.

So, you're unattractive and you're going to be a noob? You need to chuck this shit out the window, says my brain. It's no good. It's an old ideal you hang onto because you're too stubborn to let it go. What has it done for you, exactly? Why stick with something that has no value?

All it does is hold you back, says my brain. Let it go and explore this side of yourself that you've rendered nearly dead. It's not about missing out, it's about LEARNING. Research. Experience. You'll be better prepared, you can overcome your unattractiveness with skills in bed.

Mildly tempting, I'll admit. But I said no.

And I don't have a great reason to say no other than I think it's wrong for me. As a person of extremes, choosing that path is pretty much guaranteeing I'll never be married or in a stable relationship. I'll want more and I'll want different. There are more than 31 flavors out there and I'd likely want to explore them all, if I went there.

Which is why I don't. Is virginity an outdated idea? Maybe. It certainly feels obsolete and it certainly feels like I'm stuck in kindergarten while everyone else has graduated. I'm not alone in this, I'm certain, but virginity is one of those things that you can't PROVE. It's a truth or a lie that resides with the person themselves. I can't prove to anyone else I'm a virgin, but I am. And no one else can prove it to me. So, it's not like we can join up in a Virgins Anonymous group and discuss our struggles. There are no court orders for this, it's not dangerous or a crime.

Though it feels like both when talking to some people.

And all this traces back to body image and my issues with my own. You'd think, after losing 133 pounds (an entire person), I'd be more comfortable with my own body. But the opposite is true and it's not my body's fault. I just got used to the old one, with all the flaws hidden under one, big flaw (me being fat) that staring at this one every day and trying to cope with all the little things ... it's taxing. Confusing. Frustrating. Infuriating.

About half the week I wake up, look at myself in the mirror, and hate what I see. The other half, I'm all right with it.

We males have body issues. Maybe it's just me that has them in spades, but we have them. We think about them. We don't talk about them. We don't talk amongst ourselves about it. We bury it. We ignore it. We try to push through it.

Ultimately, our lack of communication is a disadvantage to the gender. We have issues communicating our issues and we end up taking it out on ourselves or lashing out against those we care about. That, however, is another subject for another day.

Thanks for reading, folks. God Bless.  

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