Weight Shaming

This piece is from a slender man's perspective. Yes, I go to the gym. Yes, my aim is to improve my body. Yes, I have aims. The aim is for me to feel comfortable in my own skin, to give me confidence, to make me feel comfortable.

Far from a "New Years Resolution" this has been a goal of mine for a while. Long gone are the days where I was blessed with luxurious long locks, a six pack and toned arms. (Being an Indie kid isn’t cool anymore.) It’s 2016, it’s time to seriously hit the gym, get ripped, get the girls, show your wealth and pose. Pose. Pose. Pose.

But. What does it take to be a man? A stiff upper lip? Washboard abs? Huge penis? Dance moves? The ability to say the right thing at the right time?  Money? Fast, expensive car? Huge house? Amazing career? MMA training? Great at sport?
This is what Hollywood tells us. Unfortunately, not every man has got all of those great traits.

This may be easy to dismiss as 'Skinny man hasn’t got anything good going for his body, moans' and if this is how you view this then please stop reading.

The one important thing to know is that all bodies are good bodies.

It’s your own self worth and state of mind that is important but if your mind is polluted with ideas of what your body should look like, then there is the problem. When I was born, I weighed a whopping ten pounds, four ounces (...sorry mom) and up until the age of nine I was a "fat kid".

Family members, friends and even teachers called me "Chubby Cheeks", or a variation. From an early age, looking back, no matter how much of a nice nickname or a form of compliment it was intended to be it may have had a detrimental effect on me. I don’t know if it did - ‘Euro 96’ has pretty much taken up all of my childhood memories, which also took place in my ninth year - but it may be more than a coincidence that around that time is when I started to lose the apparent puppy fat.

After shedding weight, I was then deemed "skinny". It’s a label that has stuck with me all my life. I was happy with my body but after hearing the word "skinny" tossed around in a bad manner I then started to take notice and naturally I felt ashamed. As school went on, I didn’t love myself anymore. I didn’t love myself until someone loved me. I wanted to fit in and be like everyone else and I couldn’t.

I’m a fully functional grown ass man these days. So looking back, I feel silly. I feel silly for letting others determine my own self worth. It’s easy to look back and think that it was stupid and unnecessary but you’re only as strong as what you’ve beaten before. It’s alright to look back and think that it was stupid then but when I delve deeper I realise that I’m doing the same thing as a fully functional grown ass man.

I’m influenced by every single Instagram model. I get it though. If you have what you deem to be a beautiful body, then by all means you’re entitled to show it off, let the world know. I’m not gunning for those people though.

What really grinds my gears (channelling my inner Peter Griffin here) is Hollywood. Hollywood has the biggest reach for an audience in the world. I'm not asking for an underweight man to be able to lift a car and save the damsel in distress here. If a film like Captain America will happily show that being scrawny will get you picked on, beaten up and heckled everywhere you go up until you are a muscled hunk, don't forget that for all of Agent Carter's heroism and ability to kick ass, one look at a topless Captain America and she's reduced to nothing more than a love interest as she makes that 'ohhhhgggghhhhuuuooo' sound when the Cap isn't scrawny any more.

This is repeated in several blockbusters and so many times it's seen as legitimate to view someone skinny as weak.

If you have what you deem to be a bad physique, then seeing and hearing the world reiterate that to you is eventually going to bring you down.

I can't tell you the exact amount of times I hear 'you don't need to lose weight', 'there's hardly anything on you' 'I'd die to be skinny, you're lucky' - but I can tell you how it makes me feel every time I hear it. It makes me feel shit every single time and I don't think I'm alone with this. I just ignore comments like that though, it's not like I retort with, 'Can I have your excess fat and put it on my arms?'

As much of a social dilemma as fat shaming is, there should be a case for deeming it "weight shaming".

The one important thing to know is that all bodies are good bodies.