I guess for some little boys, our first image of the ideal male body came from the superheroes we saw on Saturday morning cartoons. For me, it was my uncles. I grew up in a family where the men where exceptionally gifted athletically and those gifts produced the physiques of gods. As for me, I was blessed with a softer set of gifts: gifts of the mind, gifts of art, and gifts of music. So my body never looked like that of my uncles, and while it didn’t affect me in my childhood I grew highly self-conscious going into my pubescent years.
As I started growing into my body and my identity, my views of the ideal male physique grew exclusive and toxic. I thought bodies that looked like my uncles were the only kind worthy of attention. So I started to work out with them and develop a body I started to like. Obesity was seen as an enemy to me, and I felt myself growing angry with people who were overweight. I didn’t see my own views as an issue until anger was my primary emotion. It was dangerous, and so I started to do some introspection and self-learning.
I took up meditation, yoga, redeveloped my relationship with the Divine. I knew that what I was lacking was something on the interior. During that period of introspection, I realized I projected my personal fears and insecurities onto people because I didn’t resemble my uncles’ physiques. Drinking that hatred was damaging me, my psyche, and so I had to put down the poison and pick up love. Self-love, most importantly. I worked on my body, but I began to do it for me, not to recreate images of my uncles, or magazines. Changing my perspective generated a love for my body in all the stages of its process and journey. I grew comfortable in my skin and it let me healthily navigate the world.
No longer clouded by shallow prejudices, I moved more in joy and love than anger. As a gay man, I realize how important being able to move in this way is. The gay community is full of toxic mindsets both outside and within the community; I don’t need to contribute to that. More than anything, I want to inspire greater love of self in others and hopefully walking in a gentle self-confidence inspires just that.