Sunday, March 17, 2013

Dudes can be Dicks and other Assorted Tales from my Life as a Chubster. . .

I was cruising through the internets over the weekend and came across something that really pissed me off. It's not the first time I've seen this, but it made me more angry than it usually does and it was really hard for me to bite my tongue and not saying anything.

Ok, first of all, I will admit that I was looking at pictures and profiles of sexy menzes. It's something I like to do. I have a condition. It's called being gay.

Anyway, this guy said that he cares about himself and has good self-esteem. Therefore he works out regularly. Ok. Fair enough. Then he goes on to say that he doesn't like overweight people because they are "lazy and don't like themselves." He's only interested in getting to know people who love themselves enough to be muscular and fit. Ummm. . .

Ok, I will give him this much:  Exercise promotes health and well-being and we all owe it to ourselves and the people we love to be healthy. So, yeah, I get it.

At the same time, who is he to judge somebody else's motivation? For example, research I reviewed years ago while working on my Master's Thesis has found that male body builders and female models have lower than average self-esteem. Many athletes use performance enhancing drugs and steroids to achieve their level of physical perfection, but sacrifice their health in the process. Wrestlers, boxers, and body builders dehydrate themselves in order to lose weight for competitions, which can damage every system in their bodies! Many people who meet our culture's standard of beauty achieve their look through unhealthy eating habits and the use of diet drugs and supplements that damage their hearts, livers, kidneys, and other systems. You can't tell by looking at someone if they have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or other problems that may have been brought on by eating unhealthy eating habits. I can't tell if this guy's lungs are blackened from the cigarettes he smokes (that help suppress his appetite) or his liver is destroyed by the alcohol he soaks himself in or the meth he takes to keep himself partying all night. (And I'm not saying he does any of those things. . . ) You also can't see if people have cancer from the crap they've been pumping into their bodies. Can I point to Lance Armstrong as just one example? Does anybody doubt for a second that his testicular cancer was at least contributed to by his doping--doping that was reportedly done by applying steroid patches to his g'nads?!

Recent reports published in peer reviewed journals actually suggest that people who are slightly overweight (I said slightly overweight--not obese) who exercise regularly are likely to live longer with fewer health complications than people who are at or below the recommended weight by BMI standards? I should also mention that BMI is a flawed way of evaluating a person's weight and fitness/fatness. BMI does not distinguish between lean body mass and fat, so most athletes are classed as overweight or even obese (muscle weighs more than fat). Don't believe me? Look up stats on some of your favorite athletes and then plug their information into an online BMI calculator--you'll be amazed! The truth is that the more people work out and especially the more they beef up and build muscle, the more statistics say that we our nation is overweight. Do you doubt that there are people in the health professions and, particularly, the diet industry that have a vested interest in keeping those numbers skewed? The bigger the problem the bigger the sales hook and the bigger the research grants to study the problem and come up with a cure.

Now, I am NOT saying that it isn't important to be fit and healthy. Seriously, if you read my blog you know that's the last thing I would suggest. What I AM saying is that this issue is more complex than just whether your online profile picture you took as a shirtless selfie in the bathroom mirror of you pinching your nipple looks hot or not. I freely admit that I am too large for my health. I'm working hard to change that. I found that, for me, eating mostly vegetarian but eating quite a lot of dairy contributed to high cholesterol levels and ultimately a plaque rupture, clot, blockage, and heart attack. I've eliminated dairy from my diet at this point (after tapering down it's now been almost two weeks, yo!). I spend 5+ hours a week on the treadmill/elliptical/StairMaster each week, and that's something I don't plan to stop doing. The reality is that I DO love myself and I do take care of myself. I don't think I'm ever going to look the way this asshat thinks that someone with good self-esteem who loves himself is supposed to look, and that's OK with me. I want to be healthy and fit. That's what I care about.

So, then why did this moron's post bother me so much? Because I do struggle with self-esteem, and more importantly, I'm not the only person seeing his profile. How many other guys have hit on his profile and felt the sting of those words? Maybe they are struggling with their self-esteem, too. I mean, it's pretty hard for a chubby gay dude to feel good about himself. It is. And don't talk to me about the bears--the bears are no different. They have their own hierarchy of body types and I will tell you right now that the people at the top of their food chain are the muscle bears--they're essentially the circuit queens who got tired of shaving their chests every day. And they're hot! I'd say that next down from them are the burly bears--the ones who are basically muscle bears with a gut. Next are the bears--they're masculine and strong but also a bit "big." Next are the otters and cubs--leaner or slightly bigger mini-bears. And then finally we come to the big bears--the chubby hairy folk who are not necessarily built as well; the twink chasers--thin and usually feminine boys who like big daddy bears; and last, and in most of their eyes, least, the chubs--fat guys. I'd throw myself in there as a chubby cubby, but I've never felt like I fully fit in. And I'm sure I'm leaving some folks out--polar bears, daddies, etc., but you get the point.

Chubby gay dudes like me have to fight for our right to self-esteem. And I have to say that my self-esteem has improved since my high school years. I am intelligent, kind, sweet, loyal, strong willed, courageous, and funny. I am also more determined than the average bear. This bitch doesn't give up. I have a great career, an excellent credit rating, and a vacation home that's paid for. I have a lot to be proud of, and I am! At the same time, I usually want to change back into lounge pants and a hoodie and watch Netflix when I am getting ready to go out and I look in the mirror. . . because if I'm truthful I just don't feel like I belong in those gay spaces. And it's not all in my head. A few years ago I was spit on by a guy while I walked up Halstead Street in Chicago--he said, "You're fucking ugly, dude. We don't want you here. Go home, fat ass!" Seriously. At least he had the balls to say it to my face (though I wish he hadn't sprayed it, as well!). I've had other guys make crude comments about me to one another thinking I couldn't hear them and I once said hello to someone I had been chatting with online who said, "you have me confused with someone else--I'm not on that website." I asked my friend who was bar tending what the guy's name was and he told me--he then told me his handle on the website we're all on. I confronted the guy later in the evening about it and he said he lied because he didn't want his friends to know he had chatted with me. "I'm a nice guy and I like chatting with you, but they're bitches." Clearly. And, speaking of bartenders, I have been blatantly ignored by bartenders and servers before who spent their time flirting with customers they found more attractive. Jokes on them: I'm a great fucking tipper.

Ok, so at this point, I feel like I need to point out that I'm pretty content to sit at home with my dog and cat and watch Netflix! Also, I don't want this to sound like the pity party that I know it does. I'm not unhappy, and these things I've mentioned do not define me or how I feel about myself. However, they do represent a real, not imagined, set of challenges to the way I feel about myself on a daily basis. Every day I have to battle the messages I receive from the media as well as real people that say that I am less desirable than, less deserving than, less attractive than, less loveable than--that I am less than people who look better naked than I do, and that's bullshit! And, if I'm going to be honest here (which is the goal), I have to admit that I have bought into this asshole's perspective. I have. I fight it, but I find myself thinking the same way he does--that fitter people are better than I am. I shouldn't have to battle the world and myself on the subject, too, but I do. And, I feel like I'm making strides toward winning the battle--not because I'm losing weight and getting more fit, but because I'm improving my health and reminding myself daily of all the reasons why I am more than what some people may think I am. I often remind myself of a Margaret Cho bit (from Revolution?) where she talks about how much time we waste stopping to look at ourselves in the mirror or a window, changing our clothes several times before we go out, and trying to mask our bodies to look the way others tell us to. Seriously, think about it! How much more could you accomplish every day if you took back that time? How much more could you accomplish if you stopped wasting your energy worrying about what other people think of the way you look and put that energy toward something productive--like exercising, studying, volunteering, or, hell, starting a fucking riot!? Think about it.

I guess what I'm trying to say here, in my own rambling incoherent sort of way, is that this guy really pissed me off. But, it's more than that. He reminded me to get angry at myself! Yes, he's a dbag. But, he doesn't know me. He doesn't know who he's talking about. And, he doesn't know who he's messing with! I do. I know me, I know how great I am, and I know who I'm messing with. I'm much stronger than the bullshit in my head and it's time to fight back a little bit harder to get that crap out of my head. I deserve it. I deserve a lot of things, but being spit on is not one of them and neither is being figuratively spit on by myself. I think I do that to myself sometimes, and I need to tell that bitch to sit down and shut the fuck up before I knock her teeth in. (Ok, that's a figurative beat down, not a literal one. No need to arrange for a psych eval. . . ) And part of giving myself a break is to check my perceptions of others. My goal is to be healthy. Yes, some dudes are hotter than I am. And I don't mind that because I like looking at them. I'm just keeping it real, folks. But I can't assume that they are more healthy than I am and I can't assume that their lives are better than mine is or that they are happier than I am. I also can't compare myself to them. Their goals are not necessarily the same as mine. I have no idea what demons they're fighting. I know I called the guy who's profile I cruised a lot of names, and I have to say I'm sorry for that. I'm not going to go back and edit this post because I want it to be honest. But, honestly, I'm sorry. The more I think about it the more I suspect he's got some issues, too. Usually when people proclaim that they have good self esteem (or good morals, good credit, good whatever) they're trying to cover up for something their lacking (or trying to convince themselves that it's true). I don't know him, so I don't know. But, whatever it is he's working through I hope he's doing as well as I am.

1 comment:

Marissa said...

As much as that idiot is unfair to assume what he said, you're right--he does NOT know you. It is hard not to take that personally. Believe me, he probably has major demons and I'm sure he's not as great as he wants everyone to think he is. I must tell you that this is just not in the gay community. Straight men are just as horrid (not all, but they can be just as hurtful). I must also say that even with losing weight, comments like these hurt me, even though physically they don't totally relate to me, and I still take them personally. Once you lose the weight and realize how differently you are treated is when the mind fuck truly begins. That is a major downside of losing weight. THOSE idiots now have the time of day for you, but I guess it isn't all a downside--because then you can tell them to eff off! That's probably more fun than anything else. So I digress. I suppose my point is that while it probably sounds easy enough to let these comments slide, it really isn't. You will probably always advocate for the larger man because you've been there and you've lived that life. You just keep working on you and remember that you're never going to be everyone's cup of tea, but to people that are truly special, they will love you and care for you no matter what you look like on the outside. Those are the people that deserve your time and energy.