This comment of the day is by ogwriter on the post Skinny Dudes and Big Boys: Stigmatizing Men’s Bodies
“I grew up as part of the Charles Atlas generation. He was a famous bodybuilder who had a timeless advertisement commonly pitched to preteen boys. In it a big guy confronts a skinny guy on the beach. He kicks sand in the skinny guys face AND takes his girlfriend.In response the skinny guy works out, develops his body, gets lots of girls, transforming his life. Skinny, bookish, kids with glasses like myself are stereotyped and bullied by men and women. America’s Protestant Christian values based culture has never been a very tolerant culture. It is a fact of life. Honestly,it never occured to me that being treated that way was discriminatory. I was just unfortunate genetically, in ways this culture finds abhorrent. During my time as a single father I faced some serious health issues—I had a stroke at 37—so, I got a gym membership. It changed my life. I added 30 pounds and looked amazing. It is simply a fact that many, many women are sexually attracted to muscular, fit, men. Overall, I was treated better by men and women. Men admired me and women desired me. After 15 years of hitting the weights I wanted to let my body rest and go back to it later. Not working out, I get depressed more often, have less energy and attract far less attention. BUT I know I have the power and self control to change my situation. It’s up to me. I do not feel as self-conscious about my skinny self as I used to be. And although sexual opportunities and admiring glances are fewer, I am ok with it. I am most proud of that. I realized that my self-esteem does not hinge on that door anymore. In reality, all of us are less than perfect. Even when muscular, not all women found me attractive anyway. I am thankful that I never processed these issues as, “body image” issues.That would have made things worse. What most white people do not even consider as part of this dynamic, is how many people of color try to look more white to be accepted. White women only tend to see themselves as troubled by these issues. My bigger concern with being smaller is personal safety.
…Quite often in this kind of discussion, default cultural values of attractiveness determine much of the outcome of the debate. In my dating life, I have crossed many cultural divides and discovered many things about the power of differences. As a result, I have very little empathy for mainstream complaints about body issues. Every moment in America there are in play a plethora of perfectly legitimate views of attractiveness one can assume. This is true even among members of the same “race.” So, when a woman complains that the values around attractiveness within the culture she chooses to allow to define her, I pay little heed. Beyond indulging her angst, there is not much I can do anyway. What these folks will not admit to is that they covet mainstream attractiveness because of its power and dominance. When they fail to meet the standard, it is the power and advantages therein they crave.”
Photo: The Sean & Lauren Spectacular / flickr