There is nothing worse than having a gut and a raised consciousness at the same time

Warning: Coarse language and much whining ahead, but I didn’t want a Pit response so I’m putting it here.

Second warning: long. There’s no way I can write everything I feel about this with the immediacy that this demands. Please bear with me.

Once again I find myself looking at my gut in disgust. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a 20 year old gayboy, tall, weight proportional to height, with a decent face (if I do say so myself) now that the zits are clearing up, actually quite bishie-like in many respects. I don’t smoke or drink, and I take public transit or walk to all my appointments.

But I also have a gut. And man-boobs. GODDAMMIT.

And all of this wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t have a raised consciousness to go with it. I like the rest of my body and I love my mind and I know that there’s more to my being than my physical appearance and I like being judged on my merits as a person and I appreciate who I’m becoming, but there’s still those inches.

Now if I didn’t have a raised consciousness, I’d have read the damn magazines a long time ago, done the crunches, jogged, gotten a gym membership, whatever. But whenever I lie down to do crunches, I get so angry with myself for getting coopted by the Appearance Mafia. And then I get angry with myself for making excuses. And then I get angry with myself for being so weak as to care about my appearence, and then I get angry with myself for not having any willpower and making sophisticated rationalizations, and it all boils down to being ANGRY AND HATING MYSELF.

I’m so paranoid that if I did anything about my gut, I’ll end up puking up my meals or in an asylum or anorexic or having plastic surgery or something. And I simply know that it’s not going to go away by itself.

I can’t love the motherfucker. It’s UGLY. Okay, I know there are people who like it, but I DON’T. Sure, sometimes I like guys with one, but NOT MYSELF. And it isn’t because of what other people think - I already FUCK enough that I know that other people don’t give a toss. I try to accept myself for my natural shape and I DO. ALL THE REST OF IT.

I just want to wear a goddamn HALTER TOP for once in my life. I want to wear a goddann T-SHIRT for once in my life without it looking like the FUCKING PLANETARIUM. I want to TAKE OFF MY SHIRT WHILE DANCING without everyone else on the room being on Ecstacy first. I just want to ENJOY MYSELF. Is that such a sin?! Is that so self-hating and retrograde?!

GODDAMMIT! It’s a stupid GUT, for chrissakes. Why am I giving myself complexes about it? But the problem is, I can’t just put up with it and be done with it, because it’s UGLY, and I can’t just get rid of it and be done with it, because that’s WRONG.

I was reading a magazine (that I got for free - no, I haven’t literally bought any of this - that’s a little much by all accounts), and it had suggestions about how to get rid of your gut. And in a moment of despair, I read them, and believed them, and tried doing some crunches (again), and then I got so fucking pissed off at the way the article was written (“just six months until bathing suit season, girlfriends! Quit making excuses and go to the gym - no pain, no gain!”) that I threw the motherfucker in the trash and ran out to the net café, whence this.

Jesus fucking Christ! Isn’t there anything in the middle? Is it too much to ask that I be able to just make myself look the way I want, and then stop, and not have it be self-loathing and retrograde and unfeminist and internalized-homophobia and bodyfascist and narcissistic and Cathy-cartoonish and all the rest of it?

Hostie de crisse de tabarnac de crisse de calice de putain de bordel de viarge, jme chie sur tout les tetes de marde qui me crissent tout cette crisse de ciboire de marde, hostie de TABARNAC!

Hmmm… I wonder if sacre is aerobic?

matt, sweetie…

What you said.

No, really.

I empathize. I’m not fat by any means, but I’m self-conscious, and it’s like pulling teeth to get me into the pool to swim with my nieces and nephew.

And yes, I get enough sex to know that it’s not an impediment. But still…

I know how you feel.

P.S. Check your email - I sent some TorontoDope pics. :slight_smile:

  • s.e.

So get fit not because it’s ‘expected’, but because you’ll live longer, have more engergy, and feel better. You don’t have to be ripped, just healthy. And if it just so happens that getting healthy makes you like yourself better when you look in the mirror, well, that just a bonus, right?

Change the label, change the emotion, and get on with it.

Umm… matt is hardly unhealthy. That’s not the point of the OP. It’s about this body image thing within the gay community - a myth we’re supposed to buy into, and many a gym queen already has. The quest to be buff can be just as obsessive as anorexia or bulimia or overeating.

If anyone’s unhealthy, it’s me, at least in terms of not taking good care of myself.

Dammit, gerbils ate my post.

OK, lets try this again:

OK, Matt, so you don’t like the way you look? Do what you want to change it, even if it is living up to what you consider an arbitrary standard. You’re choosing, with deliberation, to meet a standard of appearance that pleases you. So what if it’s a common societal standard, one that’s reenforced by media? If it pleases you, and does no harm, what difference does it make?

Oh my god. I could have written that post.

I also spent a lot of time, my entire life, ignoring that I didn’t like my body (heck, still don’t).

Once I finally decided to give up the “love myself for who I am thing” and lose some weight, there were a lot of changes.

I’ve lost 10 pounds.

I don’t feel any prettier. I think I’ll never be thin enough for myself.
I’ve made myself miserable with guilt for eating like I like.
I’ve accepted the fact that I hae my body, and that cosnciousness has really grown. I think that in trying to lose weight, I’ve made my body even more of a mental target for myself.

I really might have made the wrong decision.

We’ll see.

Bottom line is, you gotta do what you want. If this happens to coincide with what The Beautiful People deem as acceptable, then so be it. Right now it sounds like you’re not working out just to go against what’s popular, and that’s (to my mind) identical with doing what’s popular. If you have a raised consciousness, then use it.

Or what Tuckerfan said. Same thing, he said it better.

Poor Matt. I don’t think anyone sees themselves in the mirror the way they really are. Nor do I think it’s necessarily the media - you want to look in the mirror and like what you see. When your body doesn’t please your aesthetic sensibilities it can be really frustrating. But what you see may be as much a function of your self-esteem as it is your actual physique. I know that about 30 pounds ago I thought I was still unpleasantly overweight, but when I look back at pics from that time I seem downright shapely. Get Hamish to point out someone who is built similarly to you, that may help you get a more unbiased self-image.

I agree with Tranquilis - exercise because of the health benefits; strengthening your abdomen will help prevent back problems. And add a bit more cardio in there! You should break a sweat once or twice a week at least, to keep your heart in good shape.

Wouldn’t exercising give you more stamina for sex?:slight_smile:

[sub]Incentive-laden? Well, DUH![/sub]

While I know nothing about the gay community, I do know that the mythological body image is hardly confined to it. I don’t come anywhere near conforming to societal standards for a beautiful body on a woman, but the benefits of exercising far outway my frustration at not looking like a supermodel.

Men think they have it tough, but when society thinks a beautiful woman is 5’10" and 105 lbs. and you’re 5’3" and 100+[sub]none of your business[/sub] lbs. then it’s frustrating to know it’s an ideal that is impossible for you to reach. I don’t exercise because I think I’ll one day achieve the standards of ideal beauty but because I like being a hardbody and having the stamina to do things.

Just do your crunches because you want to; not because you’re expected to. Trust me, there are men (and women) out there who think a six-pack ab is unattractive.

Just for the sake of argument, let me link a site that has women whom are in excellent condition, but are not skinny little waifs. If fact, they all have a little extra padding, but could still excecise most of us straight into the ground… And they’re pretty!

I’m talking about Belly Dancers, of course.

Interesting link. I belly dance so it’s nice to see other groups, but, um, not to nit pick, but I don’t think ANY of those women look like they have any extra padding. I certainly know some belly dancers who do, they just don’t seem to be pictured in the sites you linked to. :slight_smile:

To the OP, Matt, enlightened or not enlightened, there really is nothing wrong with trying to look your best. If it’s your only focus, you’ve got problems, but I hardly imagine that if you start doing a few crunches, you’re going to abandon all of your other interests. You’re a pretty level headed kinda guy, right? :slight_smile:

Al. (Who mostly works out because endorphins are gooooooooood…)

Either you missed it, or your definition of ‘extra padding’ differs from the social norm. :wink:

And then I hear a voice saying, “To feel healthier? Because it’s good for you? Sure, that’s what they all say.” :frowning: I wish I could believe it. Hell, I wish I knew it were true.

I still can’t get over the fact that the concept that’s supposed to keep me from hating myself because I look a certain way is making me hate myself for wanting to look another certain way. Jeez.

matt_mcl I think I have some small understanding of what you are talking about. I went through similar feelings about various issues (not just body related) when I went through a period of consciousness raising. What I have found is that you really have to struggle through this and define which boundaries work for you. You must try to untangle the web of personal / political / public / private / you and other in order to find out what it is that you truly want. I know the saying goes “The personal is political” but more than one person has made themselves miserable trying to follow that to the letter.

I know of a woman who was very staunchly feminist and was really into radical feminist theory that basically said any invasion of a woman’s body was an act of violence (including any sort of sexual penetration). For many years she dated and lived with only women. She eventually came to the conclusion that she really did want to have sex with a man and that this did not mean she was compromising her beliefs. (I believe she now considers herself bi).

I suggest really examining what it is that makes you want to look a certain way. You are not going to be a hypocrite or suddenly become socially unaware if you find that this is something you want to do for you.

I hope that made some kind of sense…

You know deep down you aren’t buying into the body-image fascism thing, don’t you?

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with doing a little work to get to be a slightly sleeker Matt. It’s like gardening. You tend the garden, it looks good, you enjoy it.

(I made a longer response over at the UnaBoard, by the way)

Matt, I think you’re cool. Please take this in the helpful spirit it’s intended. Have you considered that what you’re calling “raised consciousness”, this unwillingness to exercise as rebellion about body fascism, is really an excuse not to exercise. I mean, getting fit is hard work. Working out and eating healthily and losing weight can be a royal pain in the ass. Lord knows I’ve used enough mind tricks and justifications not to exercise.

I know your politics are extremely important to you, but perhaps the reasons your brain are giving you not to exercise are more than political, or they’re also personal reasons disguised as political ones?

Hm. I really want to get rid of it, and I’ll do (within common sense) what it takes, but it’s the political question that’s stopping me, honestly, rather than serving as an excuse.

What to say? What to say?

I’m knocking myself out to figure out how to put this in a way that expresses how I feel while still displaying the great respect I have for matt, and it’s difficult.

If it were someone I didn’t “know” from almost two years on-Board, I’d probably say something like “Oh, get over yourself, girlfriend. When you’re over 400 pounds and trying to deal with the near-utter lack of desirability, sex, and just plain attention that that weight engenders in the gay community, then you can complain.”

That was, even despite the Board-familiarity, my first reaction. But I don’t want to belittle matt, or make his entirely legitimate feelings seem trivial. So I don’t really know what to say, other than you have my moral support whatever tack you take here.

I’ll take thoughts that have never crossed Mullinator’s mind for $200, Alex.