This title should be familiar to pretty much everyone in the queer community, if you’re not part of the queer community but are an ally, welcome to the psychologically damaging segregation that we have to deal with on a day to day basis. And, if you’re not queer nor an ally, feel free to use this as an educational tool to become an ally (we can never have too many).
There are multitudes of shaming within the queer community, the title says it all. This is a typical bigoted bio of a blank Grindr profile who is looking specifically for a cis, white, male that fits the stereotypical aesthetic and demeanour that all males are expected to fit. Sounds pretty scary right? That is the reality. Thinking these things is bad enough, but actually wearing them like a sandwich board to literally everyone you meet is pretty damn low. Imagine the feeling of having your entire existence written off by someone purely based on your heritage, body size or self-expression - it HURTS.
This is all too much to cover in one article, so I’ll break it down. Let’s talk about body shaming specifically. Firstly, according to the LGBT foundation, gay and bisexual men are "much more likely to have body image issues" than straight men - does that not tell y’all something? If you’re reading this and you agree, it’s time to be more vocal about it and help better the problem. If you’re reading this and disagree or have ever put one of those in your bio, then girl I’ve got some bad news - you’re part of the problem.
I am at a point now where I haven’t done a proper workout since January and am focussing more on yoga. I have lost almost all of the body definition I had gained and for a time it made me feel like less of a person, I felt that on some level my desirability was part of my identity. Until I realised lol, DESIRABILITY IS NOT A PERSONALITY TRAIT. If you think that the amount of people that find you attractive makes you a better person or higher on a social scale, you are damn wrong. It’s taken time but I have come to terms with the fact I have gained weight and lost the definition I had gained. But I look at this as a transaction - I’m happy. I’m not unhealthy, I eat foods in moderation. I don’t obsess over exercise, but I ensure that I keep active when I can and don’t criticise myself if I run out of time. I’m at a place of not aligning my body image with my self-worth. If you follow me for my body, that is not what I want. That is why I’ve created this community as I want people to follow me for the messages I create.
Then, two days ago, I received the following message on Instagram after I posted a photo of me topless:
Yup, someone actually sent that and didn’t see anything wrong with it. The fact that someone thought of me as some commercial property that simply existed to maintain the societally constructed “perfect body” is quite scary, let alone actually message me it. This hit hard at first, I felt like I was back where I was. Body dysmorphia had set in and I felt myself aligning my self-worth to my body again. I was in the bathroom where the entire wall is a mirror, and I just looked at myself, feeling worthless.
That is how that one message made me feel, from someone I didn’t know because I know longer have abs. Now, imagine having that feeling every single day, having that feeling whenever you are on a dating app just wanting to find companionship. No one should make another feel that worthless.
There is no quick solution, all we can do is work together to build a more inclusive community that doesn’t just show off the tip of the queer iceberg. I am fully aware of my privilege as a cis, white, male. That is why I am using the platform that I have been blessed with to bring awareness to such struggles and help amplify the voices that are not being heard.
In the meantime, here’s a few small differences we can make on a micro level:
Avoid terms such as fat or skinny - Yes, the concept applies to skinny too. After I posted about this
experience someone messaged me saying that I was “skinny” so I had nothing to worry about. Saying that someone is skinny can be just as harmful. Just try to see the person for who they are, rather than their body image.
Avoid automatically congratulating weight loss - Notice how when someone has lost weight, we instinctively want to congratulate them, yet the someone gains weight we don’t? This shows that our subconscious is still hardwired to the same archaic assumptions; fat is bad, skinny is good - WILD.
Avoid trying to conform for the sake of conforming - Part of the problem is being so eager to fit in that we become part of the body shaming problem, it creates a never-ending vacuum and I admit I became part of it. I was focussed so hard on “fixing” my body that I became part of the problem. If you’re happy with who you are without caring what people think, then accept yourself and love yourself.
Be PROUD - Wear what makes you happy. You don’t need to conform to your gender, you don’t need to conform to body “goals”. If you’re happy and proud of who you are then that’s all that matters.
If a person isn’t adding anything to your life, you sure as hell shouldn’t be letting them take anything from it.