A BODY OF CONFIDENCE
Whether you are of a bigger, average, or slim build, we can all suffer with body confidence issues.
You are not alone in that.
Having struggled with body confidence from an early age, I quickly noticed how vocal and advertised woman's body confidence issues have been and are, yet men’s are often skirted around or totally avoided.
For many years, I thought it was just me being overly vain, or sensitive about my body. Guilty of only sharing photo's that I felt looked passable and quickly deleting or hiding the photos that brought emphasis to my worst areas.
As a child on the chubby side, Despite been an avid swimmer I wasn’t built like some of the kids with slim bodies and defined stomach’s. ( I would often wonder how the hell they achieved them even at that age) Admittedly sport wasn’t something that interested me. I wasn’t a lazy child by any means, I loved walking to the forest, cycling and been out exploring, but sport just wasn’t my thing.
My teenage body developed much quicker than others, which was alarming. Not only
was I chubby, hair began sprouting all over the place and I began to shoot upwards, which to my relief trimmed down some of the ‘puppy fat’ but no muscle definition emerged, so body confidence dropped lower, self-awareness increased and awareness of others really set in.
Gyms weren’t a thing for kids when I was younger, it was more of an adult zone. I tried to do all sorts at home to make my body more ‘desirable’. As I discovered more about my sexuality and sexual explorations I found my body awareness increased further. There were times where I felt exceedingly attractive but equally there were many times I felt incredibly unattractive and inferior. But I started to experience different body types, and shapes which opened my mind a little.
Throughout puberty, into my teenage years and adulthood, I was only seeing bodies via magazines and printed materials (as internet wasn’t a big thing growing up, and finding porn without crashing the computer wasn’t the thing when you only had the ‘family computer’ to use), Needless to say they were always perfectly sculpted bodies, or what was deemed as desirable body types and stereotypical attractive people. The same was to be said about television/movies too, if there was ‘sexy’ scenes, the guys would always have sculpted bodies or defined bodies.
If it isn’t apparent by now, It may be worth me pointing out that I am a gay man, which when it comes to body confidence is a whole other level of complicatedness. (I shall attempt to untangle a little bit of it as I go).
From the age of 16 I started to develop lumps, the first came up on my neck, followed by one in my groin and another under my arm.. Obviously concerned, the doctors suggested it was just part of growing. Over the period of two years the lumps developed, I began to feel constantly unwell and throughout this time the doctor continued to say it wasn’t anything to worry about.
One night my mum was looking at the lump on my neck and said she was taking me to A&E the next morning as it had grown considerably. This was when I found out I had a rare form of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (lymphocyte Predominant)
The lumps were promptly removed and treatment began quickly. I was left with a handsome scar on my neck and lost a huge amount of weight. Which massively effected how I felt about my body. The scar was and continues to be a constant reminder, dreams of creatures and black slim oozing out of the scar still haunt me.
The effects of the treatment left me broken, my body wasn’t the same, it felt different. It
felt weak, faulty and tainted.
Life continued in its new normality, I pursued it with a completely new prospective and new found vigour for life despite my body not cooperating. Sadly within two years after the initial treatment I had a relapse, this time I was put onto steroids which gave me an insatiable appetite, one that could not be filled no matter how much you tried. It was after this I begin to go up in weight and with my body suffering from chronic pain and fatigue it was impossible to do anything about it.
Ballooning up to just over 17stone at my heaviest, my body seemed to have its own opinion on the weight gain and decided to rapidly (and unpleasantly) loose the weight via horrific stomach problems. My stomach seemed to have the inability to process food and preferred to evacuate it as quickly as possible, loosing 4 stone within months it got to a point where I was put onto a feeding tube to try and slow the weight loss down.
After shitting myself on several occasions, having anal leakage issues and worrying that if any expulsion of air I passed would have lethal consequences , my body confidence took a further decline.
To all intents and purpose throughout the ages, women’s bodies have been portrayed in all shapes and sizes to what has been deemed fashionable. If you look towards art, this is an excellent example of the ever changing definitions of beauty.
However, when you look towards art and the portrayal of the man’s body, you will see strong masculine men, with sculpted bodies (okay the knob versus ball ratio’s have varied through the centuries, depicting fertility etc but you get the picture).
When I was attempting to hide my sexuality again, looking towards what was deemed as the ideal man’s physique and what defined masculinity, it was the same, strong, muscular men with washboard stomachs and tattoo’s. Okay It was attractive to look at ( probably defeating the object of trying to hide my sexuality) but there was no way in hell I was going to achieve what I was looking at, nor was it going to be easily implemented when I clearly wasn’t a classic fit of masculinity.
Finally embracing my sexuality, I found a whole wave of new challenges around body confidence. Been a man attracted to men, meant I would have a far more intimate experience of dealing with body confidence and the challenges of the men’s insecurities & clashing confidences. Not only was I insecure in my own skin, the person in front of me would have the same operational skin as me, just in a different format, one that would possibly make me feel inferior or even more self-aware. Each person I have encountered have been different shapes, sizes, colours and textures. Some have made me feel highly inadequate, others have made me feel more than adequate, some have even shamed me and there are the odd few have made me feel incredible if only for a moment. But there is only one that makes me feel equal, makes me feel incredibly attractive, sensual and makes me not care how I look, bringing me the confidence to write and share with you this blog.
You see, body confidence isn’t just about your bodies appearance, it is also about how you feel in the skin you have. It took shitting myself in public to make me realise that I had no dignity to loose, that we are all the same.. We all eat, we all drink, we all urinate, we all shit and most of us have sex.. (not all at once, unless you are into some seriously kinky stuff)
I have gone through the darkest of times and had the happiest of times, my body has always been there throughout and it will be until I die. We have to love every ounce of our skin, take care of it, love it for what it is…. The amazing entity that allows us to live our lives..
FUCK what society and social media says is right or wrong about our bodies. Just embrace it, every blemish, every scar, every grey hair, every stretch mark, every little thing that we dislike most likely has a story behind it of our strength, our journey and most definitely of our story.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this,