I used to be skinny. Well... I used to be skinnier... slimmer, smaller, less round than I am now. A few years ago I ran into my middle school principal who said, "wow you used to be a tall bean pole..." Translation, "dang you big!" I used to be skinny, well skinnier than I am now and for years I couldn't forgive myself for gaining so much weight. I used to beat up on myself, speak unkindly to myself, drown myself in whack oversized clothes in an effort to hide my lumps, clumps, bumps, and humps. I even used to wear a t-shirt or tank-top in the pool because I was embarrassed by my stomach and man boobs. For years I was ashamed of my body and thought that I was unworthy of being fashionable or considering myself cute or just plan worthy of not being ashamed of my size.
When you are big like me (I prefer the word STURDY - LOL ) it is really easy to internalize all the the external messages that you see and hear just living your regular life. The hip (usually "affordable") trendy stores in the mall are out of the question for most sturdy men. For years I've only been able to purchase hats/ties/scarves/gloves and other accessories from stores like Banana Republic, Express, Forever 21:Men (is that a real thing or did I make it up? lol), and until recently Target. There were other stores that I could find my size in; however, once I washed those items once I couldn't squeeze into them again. Moreover, there is a new trend for clothing subscription services that use a person's style profile and sizes to ship monthly items to clients-- of course most of the popular subscription services stop at XL or XXL sizes. I need another X- a strong XXXL not a soft one lol. Furthermore, not only do most companies to affirm sturdy men like myself, but those who do often do us a disservice by catering to a old, boring, "safe" style. There's a midwest department store (it shall remain nameless in this post) that has been selling the SAME sweater vest, plaid shirts, and pleated pants since I was 16 years old (when I started Shopping on my own). It's like they think that all big dudes are supposed to look like a middle age high school chemistry teacher. Until recently, I had the most luck consistently finding dope cool threads for big sturdy brothers in big cities like NYC, ATL, and the DMV area.
In addition to dealing with the frustrations of trying to shop in the same stores as everyone else, but sometimes the words and sentiments of friends, associates, and church people can annoy and cut deep. "Wow... you seem to be doing well- You're certainly eating well.." "You've gotten big!" "What happened? (while simultaneously poking or grabbing my round stomach)" and the one I hate the most "who's feeding you?" ***UGH PEOPLE ARE SO FREAKIN' RUDE!*** It is as if they think that I don't know that I've gained weight. For a long time being called out in this way caused me to feel so ashamed and embarrassed that I simply did not want to go to public places, ESPECIALLY if I thought that I was going to run into someone who I haven't seen in a while. I allowed the negative words of others cause me to isolate myself from the world in an effort to prevent myself from having to hear more negativity.
For years I internalized the messages from stores, insensitive individuals, and the media (I mean really do we ever see big men without their shirts on television or in movies? If we do they are usually being made fun of). I convinced myself that my size was my greatest failure in life. This sentiment only caused me to further isolate myself and actually caused me to turn to my favorite drug- FOOD. Of course this only caused me to become more not skinny lol.
Eventually I learned to love and appreciate every ounce of my sturdy frame. I have also become healthier over the years by trying to eat cleaner, eat less meat, and exercise more- but all of this in the name of health and not trying to be skinny. Moreover, I have stoped shamming my own body. As much as I love to swim I now flop my big self in the pool sans shirt and sans shame! Furthermore, I take the time to find clothes that help me feel confident and attractive and I step out into the world everyday loving every ounce of my big o body. Trading in shame for unapologetic boldness has been an amazing transformation and I want to share some of the things that I learned along the journey with my other big brothers! We deserve to feel just as good as everyone else. We deserve to wear clothes that make us feel attractive and confident just like everyone else. We owe it to ourselves to free our hearts, minds, and bodies from shame, guilt, and fear.
Sturdy Brothers Unite!