Weighing in on body issues

He is doing the lord's work.

He is doing the lord’s work.

Winter is my favourite time (wish it would come sooner). It is a time of hot chocolates, pumpkin soup (sensing a theme here) and winter clothes. That glorious time when I don’t have to worry about what my body looks like. With just a jacket, scarf, and denial, I, too, can wander about in public with the certainty that I look somewhat aesthetically pleasing without any muffin tops scaring everyone away.

It is in this process I convince myself I can eat as many burgers, pizzas, and kebabs as I want. In fact, I may as well have carbs, sugar, and fat directly injected into my veins. This would at the very least cut out the middleman. I’m an adult after all. I can eat whatever I like and none of you can say otherwise. That is until the guilt and shame is directed towards myself and millions of other people through magazines, Facebook advertising (you can not escape it), the unbridled look of terror on your lover’s face when they see you naked, or the much-envied chiselled abs of fitness instructors that are seemingly glaring at you disapprovingly.

The world compels us to act on our desires but also to be desirable, and finding that combination can be tricky for some (yours truly included). “I’m too tall.” “I’m too short.” “I’m too fat.” “I wish my nose was smaller.” All of these body image issues weigh upon the masses (no pun intended) and affect people’s self-esteem more than they should.

Now I can hear you wondering, why should I pay attention to this strange homosexual (who looks oddly like the chubby lovechild of Sean Hayes and Susan Boyle) about something as serious as fitness and body image? Well, I’m no fitness guru but my body and other aspects of my appearance have been like this for as long as I can remember; so I can at the very least empathise with what it’s like to not feel adequate on a physical level/physically appealing to others. This is why I’m so grateful to have a wonderful person in my life that doesn’t flee (thanks to our binding contract). Ten points to me for wittiness and chloroform.

Everyone has a story of when it all changes for him or her. Finally when they decide to do something. For most people, it’s something dramatic like seeing themselves in photos or clothes not fitting them anymore. For me, it was when the boyfriend and I could no longer reenact that lift and twirl scene in Dirty Dancing. He was all romantic. It began. I ran towards him … the lift. It was then that he realised he was in over his head, and the entire mood in the room had shifted.

I of course go through phases of trying to be fit. Whether it’s through signing a two-year contract with a gym that I will only use about five times (which you think I would learn after doing this twice), Photoshop, going for a run to the nearest McDonalds, or Richard Simmons’ workout tapes. I have done it all.

Inevitably, I will go through these phases again and again before ultimately turning to ice cream and the Biggest Loser to feel better about myself. Maybe I haven’t found a good enough reason to motivate myself that’s not for other people, or maybe I’m just lazy. I haven’t found that magic ingredient that gets me off the couch and eager to have abuse yelled at me by personal trainers.

You can have your protein shakes and low-fat yoghurt that will ease your bowel movements. I will not yield. At least until another chair gives out.

This column was originally published in mX (April, 2015).

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