"And where is the body..."
I love Salt-n-Pepa....a black, feminist, sexually empowered hip hop group from the early 90s? Clutch the pearls and call Tupac back from the dead.
One of my favorite songs by this hallmark group was featured in the opening credits of Too Wong Foo Thanks For Everything Julie Newmar: "Body Beautiful." It's a song about loving your body and who you are without taking on the body image baggage of the world. With queer men suffering from body dysmorphism and eating disorders at the same rates experienced by women, I have more than a passing familiarity with the need to love ones body. Though I have never struggled with eating disorders (other than the disorder of loving to eat all the damn time), I have always struggled with body image.
As an adult, I have weighed anywhere from 150 pounds (when I was living in Puerto Rico, eating beans and rice every day, swimming a half mile every afternoon and running a mile every morning) to climbing up to 210 pounds (of pure anti-muscle)in 2003 when I was unemployed, depressed, and sat in my house lamenting my recent HIV diagnosis. I have been more and less muscular, more and less skinny, and throughout all of it, even though the numbers on the scale changed radically, even when I was at my skinniest and/or most toned, my eyes zeroed in on any available flaw: a scar here, stretch marks there and the greatest of all sins....the ever present...BACK FAT!
At one point I could wear my friend Karly's board shorts. Karly is all of 5'4" and a marathon runner...and even then.....I STILL saw myself as overweight or out of proportion or whatever message of the moment was running through my brain. As if!
Over the last couple of months, as I have been looking for work, I have been spending a lot of quality time at the Gold's Gym. In fact, for the last six or seven weeks, I have been going to the gym twice a day for about an hour or so at a time for probably six days a week. And thanks to some nutrient support garnered from Eva's Natural Foods in the West Village, I, for the first time, have pecs that I can move independent of one another and my ass has started to bend space/time and defy gravity.
And guess what...even though dudes at the gym that once never glanced in my direction now I catch boldly staring at me and/or make sure to say hello to me when I am in their general area, my eyes still zero in on that touch of back fat or the stretch marks by my arm pits or the fact that my butt doesn't have those hot side dimples quite yet.
Ummmm what the fuck, Batman.
And then, of course, there is the anger at the boys that never gave me the time of day now that are offering me their watches, mixed with the straight up love of the attention, and then peppered with the anger at myself for finding more worth in the stares of this or that muscle queen than in my own eyeballs when I look in the mirror. (And don't even get me started about what it means to have HIV living behind these pecs and underneath this skin...and what that may or may not mean and/or how it may or may not affect the appreciative glances I now am receiving...that is another blog entry).
But, I figure if I am doing all this personal growth work on myself, trying to stay away from old behaviors that didn't serve me well, and trying to become a better, healthier blah blah blah person...I should probably have a good chat with the man in the mirror (MISS YOU MICHAEL!).
So, each week (I started last week) around Friday or so...I am going to take a shirtless picture and post it on Facebook. I am going to love my body come Hell or high water, stretch marks, back fat, stares, no stares and all. WERQ (out)!