A Man, His Fat, and a Hatred of Photos

How many people hate having their picture taken?

Author’s Note: This is an edited version of post that originally appeared at Danny’s Corner on 1-20-2011. And yes that is an actual photo of me.

I’ve talked about fat before. I’ve talked about being a fat guy before, namely the fact there are a lot of people who really don’t want to believe that being fat and being a guy is not a cakewalk. Well as part of what I’m trying to this year I want to make some real progress and I’m really going to try to get over one specter that has haunted me for the vast majority of my life.

I absolutely hate having my picture taken.

Let me clarify. A few weeks ago I was at a friend’s house with some other friends (we were seeing off a friend that’s in the Army about to go to the Middle East) and one friend pulled up a folder of pictures. When they got to pictures of me I literally turned away from the laptop until I heard him hit the arrow key to scroll to the next picture.

You see, as a fat guy, people like to draw conclusions about you. You’re an athlete (and let me tell you, that assumption is not as cool as it sounds). You’re not very smart (I don’t know how the association between fat and stupid makes sense). You have unhealthy eating habits. You are gonna die young. You hate exercise and physical activity (totally conflicting with the assumption of being an athlete). The list goes on.

For longer than I can recall now this is the type of stuff I’ve heard and I’ve taken it in so deeply that I actually pray for the very invisibility that other people say they are burdened with. Maybe it’s a sign that something is wrong with me but I don’t feel invisible with my fat. In fact I feel like I’m the elephant in the room. An elephant that wishes he were a fly.

To be so hurt by a simple characteristic you wish you could fade into the background. No: to be so hurt by the way people put so much stock in a simple characteristic, that you wish you could fade into the background. And I get the feeling that there is a special bit of pain that fat guys feel.

You see as part of the script of being a man we are not only not supposed to let things like that hurt us but in the event that they do we are not supposed to talk about it. Not show it. Just keep it bottled up inside and let people pick on us and then go home and cry ourselves to sleep at night. And with the way fat guys are shown on TV its not wonder people go around thinking its all good in the hood to tease, pick on, and otherwise harass us.

If you look at the way we are portrayed on TV we supposedly like being identified by our fat. It makes us funny. It makes us stupid comic relief. It makes us acceptable for other people to acknowledge our existence. In fact I’ve come across people who have actually tried to cite TV characters as proof that there is nothing wrong with being a fat guy. And let me tell you I’m making myself use “fat guy” as much as possible in order make myself okay with using it.

Yeah, Homer Simpson, Peter Griffin, and Kevin James’ character on “King of Queens” prove that everyone is fine with the existence of fat guys. When obviously uninformed people make silly comments like that I just want to commit violence. But then I’d be the crazy fat guy (and remember I’m black so I’d become the Big Scary Black Man) and it would be my fault for “taking it personally.” Yeah.

You remember what Yoda said about the dark side in The Phantom Menace?

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.”

Fear over the shame of being fat.

Angry at the thought of seeing your fat in a picture.

Hatred over the thought of a permanent recording of your fat for all to see.

Suffering from the fear, anger, and hatred that cause you to avoid cameras.

It’s time all that changed.

I’m still not sure how but I’m going to make it a point to work on my own body image. I refuse to let other people be the measure of how much I like myself. I refuse to live in fear of cameras. I refuse to continue to wish I could fade into the background.

Yes, change will happen.

 

—Photo credit: Danny

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About Danny

Part techie, part gamer, and part cook, Danny can often be found tinkering with a PC, pondering short story ideas, or playing a game. When asked, “If you're so opinionated, why don't you start your own blog?” one time too many, he did just that. As a result, Danny's Corner was created as a place for the rage, confusion, comedy, and calm that are natural for one that's pondering the basics of being a man. He can also be found haunting Twitter from (@dannyscorner).

Comments

  1. For what it’s worth, you have very nice eyes, which are the only parts visible in this photo. Good luck.

  2. Joanna Schroeder says:

    Great post, Danny.

  3. I feel like this is true for most any man with some sort of physical flaw. There are a total of maybe a dozen pictures that exist of me in the past 6 or 7 years.Hell, the picture I use here is almost 5 years old.

  4. Marilyn Wann says:

    Hi, Danny! Thank you so much for telling this story publicly! I’ve been a fat activist since the mid-90s and I’ve met so many fat men who have similar stories. I have found very few places where fat men can talk about what it’s like (and how weight stereotypes and social attitudes interact with attitudes about race, class, sexuality, etc.). I started a Facebook group a while back called Fat Club for Men, which has attracted some wonderful people of all genders (but mostly people who identify as fat men). I invite you to connect with fat activist community (and our companion communities: Health At Every Size® and fat studies), if you haven’t already. And please visit Fat Club for Men if you think you’d enjoy it!

  5. You look kind of cute to me. But I totally get it. Keep your head up and call me if you are ever in town. T

  6. Hi danny!!!
    All I have to say is face your fears! With dozens of pictures! Look at your photos, examine everything you can from them. That has helped me build confidence in myself. I have even printed my photos on paper and have traced outlines of things I’m most insecure about. I have dermatillomania, psoriasis, scars from past self harm, stretch marks and freckles, and I would take pictures of those particular areas that made me most uncomfortable, and search online for photos of large women and men and say to myself “these people are gorgeous, sexy, attractive, I have similar shapes, marks, rolls, thighs, bellies, arms, etc, and if I can see the beauty in these people who look similar, why can’t I see myself that way? I deserve my love and adoration more than these strangers do…”

    But… that’s just me.

    I’m kinda glad to hear that men have body struggles as well.
    I, personally, have always found fat guys to be much more attractive than their smaller/muscular counterparts.
    I do hope the best for you, and I hope you can conquer your fears and learn to love the hell outta yourself, cuz everyone deserves to be happy with themselves!!!

  7. I’m not a man, but I’m right there with you, Danny! I’m working on the same issue, myself. “I refuse to let other people be the measure of how much I like myself!” If we say that enough times, do you think we can really internalize it and feel it? I’d like to think so.

  8. Oh Danny, you are soooo not alone in this. I am right there with you, and have similarly made the decision to stop hiding from the camera, and just be who I am. It’s not easy. I still post very few of the photos taken of me, but posting anything at all is progress. I’ve been able to get to this point by looking at lots of photos of self-accepting people, such as those found on the wonderful (NSFW) website The Adipositivity Project (www.adipositivity.com). Big fat hugs and solidarity to you …

  9. I wish you well in your journey to fat/body acceptance. I realized a few years ago I had only a handful of pictures from the last decade. I to decided to make a conscious effort to become comfortable in having my picture taken again. I took lots of self-portraits, starting with parts I like, in b&w,, made myself look at the pics and find something to like about them.

  10. CajunMick says:

    Hell0 Y’all:
    After years of an undiagnosed/untreated thyroid disease, I blew up quite nicely. With the weight gain came Type II diabetes. By the time I was diagnosed w/the diabetes, I had health insurance. I began treatment and changes in the way I eat. I now eat more than I did when I was starving myself and have lost 60+ pounds. Still working on it.
    The body image thing is tough. I’m an artist, so aesthetics is very important to me. I can see beauty everywhere except in the mirror and photos that I’m in. I just couldn’t look at myself.
    Finally, I had enough. One evening, as I was getting ready to shower, I stood in front of the mirror and stared. I stared until I didn’t want to turn away. I still do this, and the time it takes towards accepting myself where I am now gradually gets shorter and shorter. We’ll see how it goes.
    Good luck to all of you who are finding your own ways to self-acceptence.

  11. The Bad Man says:

    You’re beautiful just the way you are man. It’s how you feel that is important, not how you look.

  12. Did any of your family members struggle with body issues or poor self- esteem?

  13. Wow I had no idea that men felt this way. Thanks for sharing because I never realize the stress that men feel when it comes to being overweight. I always thought it was a female issue and now that I am aware of this, I think about all my nephews and cousins that are extremely overweight. I am fat myself but love to be in the spotlight. I am concerned about my weight only because I am getting older and I am border line diabetic. I have an 11 year old that loves to be in the spotlight as well but is a little on the chubby side. always remember, if you are fit people will still judge but it is all about what is on the inside and just let the rest of that stuff go. I did.

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  1. [...] The Good Men Project’s body image examination continues apace with some amazing contributions, including this one about a man, his fat, and a hatred of photos. [...]

  2. [...] upp i vikt än vad det är för en kvinna. Då det istället kallas för att ”förfalla”. Men A man, His fat and hatred of photos påminner mig om att vi har samma erfarenheter män som kvinnor. Det som skiljer oss åt handlar [...]

  3. [...] A Man, His Fat, and a Hatred of Photos, By Danny [...]

  4. [...] As you may have heard, I am not a fan of having my picture taken. And I have been working on it. [...]

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