It wasn’t until I reached junior high school that I started to gain weight. Prior to this time I had always been a very skinny boy, even taking on the nickname “String Bean.”
However, junior high school took a major toll on me mentally, emotionally and physically and I found comfort in food. Before I reached the 8th grade, I had earned the new nickname “Pudgy”. Believe it or not, I welcomed the extra weight at the time because it meant that I would get teased more for being fat than I would for being a faggot. It was definitely the lesser of two evils.
I continued to blow up in highschool, eating through stress and depression. Not only was I gaining weight at a rapid pace, I was doing my best to fit in with all the ‘regular’ boys AND I was way behind in reaching puberty. By the time I graduated, I barely looked 14 years old! I was often mistaken for a “Ma’am” when working the drive through at Burger King or when answering the phone. Everyone thought I was my sister when I said “Hello”.
After graduating, I made my way to Atlanta, a chance to start over. It was better in college, but I still did not escape the gay rumors. I was still very insecure and by the time I was 20, I had reached a whopping 245lbs!
I was so insecure with my body that I knew I had to do something. At the time there was a revolutionary diet pill on the market called “Fen Phen”. Many people claimed it to be the miracle weight loss drug but it soon turned into the weight loss death drug because of all the heart attacks it caused. Anyways, I came across an ad for this product in the local newspaper and I wanted to get my hands on some. They were selling it at a gym near my home so I decided to stop by after work to purchase it.
Well, as it turns out, the ad was a hoax to get people into the gym with hopes of selling them their own health and wellness program. It was a great marketing idea because it got me in there and next thing I knew, I was a member. Two months later I’d already dropped 40lbs and I was still going! I was motivated. I started to feel good about myself and more importantly, I was looking good.
Fast forward a few years later and I was still down to just under 200lbs. I was comfortable with my progress and just stopped trying to reach the next level. I had gotten married to my high school sweetheart, had a newborn son and was living the “picture perfect” family life. All of this at age 23.
Well, for various reasons (besides the obvious), we got divorced a few years later and I was back to being single. At this time I started to work out again and was focused on improving my body. I was beginning to date men and it made me feel even more insecure about the way that I looked underneath my clothes. I think many will say it was due to the emphasis gay men in our community put on bodies but for me, it was because I now had someone to compare my body to. It’s kind of like your dick size. Always comparing it to another dick you may see. To bring a naked man into my bedroom, whose body was in great shape, made me feel extremely insecure.
By the time I was 27, I was in the best shape of my life. I weighed about 180lbs, was gaining muscle mass, and most of all, was feeling more confident with myself. However, there was still one issue: I had this loose skin around my stomach that I could just not get rid of (picture a woman’s stomach after recently giving birth). I was told that since I initially lost weight so quickly when I was 20, my skin could not respond quick enough to tighten up, so here I was with a deflated stomach.
I had a choice to either get used to having a ‘jelly belly’ or invest the money into “the scar”; having an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck). For those of you who don’t know, this is when they cut you from hip to hip, remove the loose skin off of your stomach and sew you back up. I elected to buy the scar. I figured I could always hide the scar, but not my stomach (especially at the beach or pool).
Even after a few minor complications/do over’s, I must say it was a great decision for me. I used to be completely obsessed with the extra skin around my stomach. I would pull on it, grab it, twist it, you name it. And although my obsession has now shifted to other areas of my body (lol), I recognize it now for the insecurity that it is.
It’s been over 10 years since I decided to have that tummy tuck and even though I am happy with my decision, I’ve realized one thing: it never mattered what my body looked like, my security and confidence in myself comes from within. Over the past 10 years my weight and body fat has fluctuated but I usually stay within 10 lbs. I remember going through some old pictures from 2010. I was gawking about how toned I looked and wanted to look like that again.
But then I realized something: I remember feeling the same insecurity about my body in this pic that I feel right now and even 10 years ago. Until I can become completely comfortable with the body that I have, it does not matter what size I am, I will still feel insecure.
I know many of us feel the same insecurity about our bodies – even some of us with 6-packs. I say to you, start loving and appreciating the body you have because you will never have another. It takes time, but the more you change your thoughts about your body, the easier it will get. I use to look at other men’s bodies at the gym or pool and wish that I had one like them. Now I catch myself anytime I do it and realize I should be thankful for my own. And I am thankful, loving it even though I am still sometimes challenged.
I’ve also started to be naked more often – just because. If I am relaxing at home reading a book, I will be naked doing it. Working? Naked. Watching TV? Naked. Cooking? Sometimes naked, as long as I’m not frying anything! LOL.
I’ve found that the more comfortable I am just being naked with myself, the more comfortable I am with my body around other people, whether that be at the pool, beach, gym or whatever. It’s taken me years and many body sizes later to realize that the confidence and security I need with my body was always in my head. So try not to obsess so much and don’t worry what other people think. Hell, if they are anything like us, they are too worried about their own body to be concerned with yours!