If you follow me on Snapchat, Instagram, or Tumblr, you’d either think I’m very comfortable with my body, a slut who posts teasers for likes and followers, or both. I’ll toot my own horn and say my selfie game has improved over the years and it seems as if I bathe in the compliments I get from followers and friends. Some may say I crave the attention. Well, I’m certainly not complaining.
In reality, though, I hate my body. I’ve never been the most attractive person or the most confident. I wouldn’t even take my shirt off at the pool for so many years. But when you’re younger, you don’t really care. I was thin and that was all the mattered to me. I barely worked out and ate whatever I wanted. I was confident that all the rumors were false and that I’d remain the same size forever. I did always hate how hairy I am and spent too much time manscaping, though, and wishing I was a few inches taller.
I submerged myself into the gay community at 19 years-old and came out of the closet soon after. It was a new world that was similar to the hierarchy go high school but worse, meaner, and consisted of only men. Being online, I noticed that it was primarily white males with sculpted abs, muscle, and little body fat that everyone wanted. They were the ones you saw all over the television and social media. They were the ones you had to aspire to look like The gay community is my family so in no way am I trying to bash them but it is an overall observation that has proven more true than false. How many dating profiles, even those of minorities, say be white and in-shape?
As people got older, the small/lean look was no longer acceptable. It was meant for 19-20 year olds. Your body has to “improve” if you want to get noticed on dating apps or the bars. It was not acceptable that I was in my early 20’s and still looking like a high school freshman. You need muscle and definition. To get messaged on social media or dating apps, you better expect to show some skin. Your body better be up to standards as well or its a no from that cute guy you were just talking to.
My changing metabolism didn’t help either because I had to start watching what I ate. It doesn’t help when pasta and chocolate are your weakness.
I joined a gym and spent hours there sweating and pumping iron. Then, and even now, I’d cancel plans or delay them simply to go to the gym. I couldn’t miss a workout session. I wasn’t seeing results as fast as I would have liked and summer was right around the corner. It always is, though. There is always some event coming up that all your workouts are leading up to. Maybe it’s the high school reunion, pride, birthdays, or Halloween. Those are motivating but when you don’t see results as fast as you’d like, you start to feel defeated and want to give up.
I was gaining weight in muscle but it was covered under layers of fat. I no longer felt comfortable going to the pool. I was not confident in taking my shirt off at the clubs/bars anymore because I didn’t compare to the Go-go dancers. I was desperate to be proud of my looks in the mirror. I wanted to be attractive like guys I saw on television and social media. It didn’t matter if friends said I looked great. I wasn’t seeing the same thing. I followed fitness accounts and attractive guys on social media to motivate myself to go to the gym. I’d look at their one shirtless post and force myself to workout.
This was the first time I realized I had an issue. One night, I weighed myself on the scale in the bathroom and noticed I had gained some weight. My heart dropped and began to beat faster, I got dizzy, and I started crying. I felt like all my hard work was taking backward steps. In the middle of the night, I raced over to the nearest convenience store to buy diet pills and laxatives. I quickly started seeing results so I became addicted to them. I relied on them to do what the gym wasn’t doing fast enough. I couldn’t eat any meal without taking diet pills or not take laxatives once a day. I took them for so long that (I believe) I began to destroy my insides. Anytime I ate anything, my stomach would hurt so bad that I’d be bent over in agony or trying to walk off the pain. It was the same pain in my stomach I felt when I was getting high off of cough syrup and prescription pills and the doctor said I was messing up something internally. It didn’t matter, though, because I was seeing results. As Beyonce said, “Pretty hurts.” My friends would laugh it off. They didn’t see a problem, nor did I. In hindsight, I wish they would have noticed a problem with my diet pills addiction. My family never knew any of this and they never found out. I didn’t care for muscle more than I did to look thinner and lose any fat. I wanted to look young and nothing like my biological father. I wanted my round face to disappear and my love handles to melt off. I do admit I did this all wrong but I felt like I had no choice or control. I needed to live up to some ideal standard of beauty.
I don’t remember what was the cause but I stopped buying the pills and laxatives. I wasn’t taking them anymore and re-structured my workouts, diet, and bought healthier supplements like protein, creatine, etc. The pills were caffeinated as well so by body went through a major withdrawal. I don’t remember what made me learn my lesson but I did. I never went to a doctor or therapists to diagnose me with an eating disorder or body dysmorphia. I felt like people would think I was looking for attention (I’d already been to rehab so how many more issues could I have) or what if I was exaggerating it myself? Women go through this much worse and I felt like my experience didn’t compare and I shouldn’t be complaining. What if nothing was wrong with me? I also felt like I would be mocking or disrespecting people who truly suffer from body dysmorphia or eating disorders. I wasn’t skin and bones like you see on television nor was I forcing myself to throw up after a meal. I believed I was okay but feared that I’d be considered crazy.
To be honest, I still go back to those thoughts and convince myself to eat or not splurge my money on diet pills. I take full responsibility for my actions and aren’t blaming the pills, media, or gay community for how my own perception of my body changed. I still post shirtless pictures on social media because I’m proud of my gym progress and am trying to teach myself to be confident in my own body. It took so much for me to wear a crop top at D.C. pride, even when my closet is filled with them. I still will skip a meal on purpose or feel guilty for eating certain foods. I cancel plans or delay them to fit a workout into the day. I force myself to workout 6-7 days a week because I feel gross if I don’t work out, hate rest days, and see a huge difference in my body when I don’t workout. I have a small mental breakdown anytime my weight reaches anywhere close to 160 pounds. I don’t like guys seeing my body in the light. I’m constantly comparing myself to guys I see online or praying to be rid of this fat. I’ve broken down when my mom said I was huge or when my boss said my body didn’t look any different from working out.
I get praise and compliments online but they mean nothing. I see what I see and I hate my body. Then again, though, only I’m allowed to criticize myself. Any stranger or friend that makes fun of my body (Yes, friends have called me fat/disgusting) feels my wrath and is buried alive under a meteor storm of insults.
I’m trying to learn to love my body and it isn’t easy but I’m definitely trying.