Tomorrow marks six months of working out for me. (The irony here is that I haven’t been able to go to the gym all week, due to the extenuating circumstances of a back injury and a cold. But I want to go back as soon as I feel like doing so won’t make me more sick or more injured. Because I love my body now. I want to take care of it, treat it well and not abuse it to conform to some crazy-ass standards made up so that people like me will hate ourselves.)
Tonight I went to visit some of my extended family. An aunt and uncle were in from out of town and there was a get-together to celebrate. I arrived late since I had to work, and almost as soon as I walked in one of my aunts shouted from across the room that I looked like I had lost weight. Initially, I was surprised because I had forgotten about it and was really tired. And, honestly, parts of me were relieved and flattered. It’s frustrating to see people I haven’t seen in awhile and have them not remark on it. It could be because it can be a sensitive topic and they don’t want to or know how to bring it up, or it could just be because I’m still fat, and it’s hard to tell; a lot of people just see fat people as just fat. But, still, part of me wants to know my progress. So I graciously told her thank you and explained that I have been utilizing the gym at my apartment complex, to which I received praise, which was nice and felt good.
But comments like that are also kind of back-handed. I don’t remember her explicitly saying I looked good, or better than I had before, but that’s the implication, isn’t it? And it’s like, how did I look before? What was so wrong? I never really hated the way I looked. Sometimes, of course, but it wasn’t a constant. I would look in the mirror and wonder what was so bad, and try to figure out what was so unappealing about my body. I definitely knew what was supposed to be, but for the most part, I had to take a second and think about it before seeing it.
I think I have relatively high self-esteem, especially for a fat person. I’m lucky and grateful and wonder how it came about. I know it had a lot to do with having so many wonderful and supportive people in my life. My family has done a good job of emphasizing my many good attributes, and while they have definitely played a part in trying to make me ashamed of my body or perpetuating unhealthy body image, it never affected me to the extent it could have. I think I’m pretty resilient in a lot of ways. I also met my lifelong companion, lifetime partner and soul mate at a relatively young age. Through her, over the past ten years, I have really recognized and felt unconditional love. We bring out the best in each other, and our bond has nothing to do with our bodies. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that someone can love you wholly and so deeply just because of exactly who you are. And though our love is definitely platonic, it doesn’t diminish it by any means, but just makes me wonder that the difference is and what’s so great about romantic love? Though, admittedly, that is still something I search for.
Dating as a fat person, particularly as a fat gay man, has been especially frustrating. Forgetting the contributing factors of my own neuroses outside my life as a fat person, it’s very hard to find gay men that are willing to date fat people. Especially those of us who do not fall into the bear category. My pool is limited to people who go out of their way to seek fat men, which, while it’s nice, it’s also kind of weird and fetishizing. I don’t want to be seen as cute for a fat guy. I want to be seen for what I am: just fucking cute period. I recently had an opportunity to go on a date with someone who did not go out of their way to tell me they liked fat guys. I still don’t know if he does or not, and it’s yet to be determined if it will go anywhere ultimately, but it was nice to hear that I am cute, intelligent and interesting [all of which I feel to be true ;)] without that qualifier.
But I digress. Exercising has definitely helped me in the long run. I’m much more mobile, flexible and happier since working out. Working out has given me a wonderful feeling of self-reliance and self-appreciation. Knowing I can fucking do it is an amazing feeling. It might not be so surprising to everyone, but as a lifelong fat person, I’m constantly amazed and proud by what I can do that I had previously never thought possible. Practically, it has also helped curb the back problems I’ve gained due to my uneven legs and (very likely), my weight. Working a hard shift never takes a toll on my body the way it had for so long.
The great irony is, since I’ve been working out, I’ve been less happy with my body than before. As I began to notice changes, I would get excited and try to decide what else I wanted to change, or get frustrated if I’m not changing fast enough. It can be a real killer on the self-esteem. It’s a dangerous side-effect that nobody warned me of, and I wonder why no one talks about it more. It caught me off guard, and it was depressing. Though I every day I find the gap between how I view my body and how I want to view my body smaller.
It’s also important to recognize that mine is not everyone’s experience as a fat person. There are plenty of fat people who do not have the same ability issues I do and who are already plenty fulfilled and self-assured in their lives that do not need to take the same measures I am. This was simply something I felt like I had to do to get where I want to be in life. It is not everyone’s experience or opinion and that is okay.
I also want to say that I’m not dieting (though I am trying to make positive eating habits) and I have no plans on ever being skinny. I did not weigh myself at the beginning and I have no idea how much I weigh right now. I started out pretty fat, and I’m trying to keep realistic goals in mind (meaning achievable and with the ability to be lifelong).
In case you hadn’t noticed, very often, in the middle of the night, I have the tendency to ramble. I was browsing fat positive blogs and felt inspired to write some things down I’ve been thinking about for awhile. And now I think I will go to bed.