How can I feel happy about being a skinny male (125 pounds, 6 feet tall) when I have never felt comfortable in my own skin?
posted by jpritcha to Health & Fitness (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I have never been satisfied with my body image because I am constantly trying to manage a case of cognitive dissonance. I am a thin (currently 125 pounds and 6 feet tall), gay male in my mid-twenties and I don't ever remember feeling comfortable in my own skin. My weight has fluctuated in the past as I try to gain weight and then loose it…honestly, I'm not really sure what body type I would feel comfortable in. Interestingly enough, my identical twin brother feels similar about himself.
Growing up I was bullied…probably more than the average kid. I would say that most of the bullying revolved around me being gay, but I also related it to being skinny. I felt like being skinny made me weak and an easy target for bullies. I could never really stand up for myself. Fortunately, I had great friends and a supportive family (still do) who always made me feel loved and accepted for who I was.
I would say that I am a relatively attractive male but I always thought I could feel better about myself if I just gained more weight. I have some idea's as to why I feel this way. I am not really that effeminate but I feel feminine because of my body, which bothers me. I have female friends who are always saying, "Oh I wish I had your body!" C'mon, I don't consider that a compliment. I also feel like I look very young because my body size. A lot people are quite surprised by my actual age…how could they not be when i have a teenagers body. I wonder if people take me seriously because of this and especially considering I have a fairly professional job. I've even had clients talk down to me before, which is very frustrating. One client I was advising kept relating me to her son and would amplify her years of experience beyond me. Thats happened a few times…I've asked coworkers if they've experienced this and they said not really.
The thing I hate the most is when people feel the need to make ingenuous comments about my body size… saying *Oh wow, you are so skinny! You should eat something!" This is not unusual for me to hear. I still don't understand why some people think it's okay to criticize skinny people. You'd never say to an obese person, "Wow, you are so fat…lay off the cookies!" Maybe I'm too sensitive and I care too much about what people think…but honestly, who wouldn't feel slightly offended by a comment like this? It just reinforces this stamina I feel about being thin. Thin people have feelings to ya know...
Last spring and summer, I was fed up with being thin and thought to myself, "seriously, stop complaining and do something about it." I started working out hard and eating a ton more. In turn, I gained about 20 pounds…some muscle, some fat. I wasn't overly toned but I looked bigger. I would get these random, punctuated moments of relief…like "finally, I can start to feel better about myself" But ironically, when I looked at myself, I didn't feel like me. I did get a lot of people noticing my weight gain, and most of my male friends complimented me. Some old friends I met up with were impressed at the difference in my appearance. I kind of felt annoyed by the compliments…like why did it take me gaining weight to get these compliments? Regardless, for some reason I felt like my new body didn't suit me…I looked strange. My small frame didn't look right with this weight on it. When I looked in the mirror, I didn't see me. I still wasn't happy *sigh*.
I had a stressful year this past year because of work, school, and a break up…I ended up loosing most of the weight I had gained. "Bummer" I thought and at first I was pretty disappointed, but then relieved in a weird way. I thought "actually, I don't mind being thin…it's more me. I should really just accept myself for who I am and stop trying to be something that's unattainable and doesn't suit me."
Something shifted in my mind the last few months and now I'm back to my old mentality…I want to gain weight again! These shifts in my mindset can happen because of impetuous, random thoughts. Sometimes I have two opposing thoughts simultaneously…like I want to gain weight and loose weight at the same time. I don't know why I am always unsatisfied with my body. Yes, I can see some underpinning reasons and social issues as to why…but c'mon…I really need to just get over these negative thoughts. I want to stop stressing about this because I do feel happy with myself on many other levels. I understand that I have to just accept myself for who I am, and not put so much emphasis on this shallow issue. I've even talked to a professional counsellor before…and done some self-confidence exercises. But, at the end of the day, these thoughts just never really go away. How can they when people are always rubbing it in my face? Even my friends joke around and talk about how narrow I look. Sometimes the joking gets out of hand and I get upset. An ex boyfriend told me that I should eat more, which was code for gain more weight (and trust me, I can eat and eat and eat). Another ex use to always "jokingly" squeezing my arms and ask when I was going to start working out more. The only time my twin brother compliments me is when I've noticeably gained weight. My motcho dad has spent most of my teens and earlier adulthood making workout and meal plans for me and my brother in order to get bigger. I've tried thinking through this whole weight issue, not thinking about it, meditating on it, not meditating on it, journaling about it, writing affirmations, pretended to like my body (fake it till you make it), stopped looking in mirrors, ect… I feel like the subconscious mind cant accept something it doesn't like…but what if I never like this part of myself? I like my personality, talents, and ambitions, I like my morals and values, I think I am decent looking overall…I like a lot about myself, but I just don't like this negativity I feel towards my body.
So my question is, how do I just be content with my body? How do I decide if I want to gain weight or stay thin…or how do I truly stop thinking about this despite all my efforts?