I have a complex past and psychology when it comes to my weight and build.
I am getting past this, but it’s taken time. Men don’t typically talk about these things, so I wonder if I’m the only guy who has these issues? Let’s see…
I was a pudgy child nicknamed “Pogs”. As a teenager, I was given some feedback from a family member that I had “a body you should be ashamed of”. In my early adult years, I was once told that I was the only male who said person had ever met who had “child bearing hips”. This and other subtle and not-so-subtle body shaming created a wide range of consequences for me as I grew up and developed into an adult.
In my teens and twenties, I grew to my current height of 6ft 3 and my weight evened out somewhat. In my thirties I went on an obsessive drive to disappear through a combination of running and shakes and dropped 20kg’s. But even then, the body shaming continued – I remember once being called a “galloping tapeworm”! In my forties I put most of that weight back on. This was largely due to eating and drinking too much as the pendulum of my life swung and depression set it, though I tell people it was purely because of injuries that prevented me from running. It was also due to medication I began taking. Body shaming pursued me relentlessly.
Then recently, a person who I hadn’t seen for quite some time saw me and, looking utterly aghast, exclaimed at volume: “Good heavens you’ve put on a lot of weight! I didn’t even recognise you!” This was at a public gathering for all to hear. Not content with this humiliating commentary he then called over people’s heads to his wife to come and look at just how much weight I had put on. As she arrived at the scene he once again trilled: “Can you believe just how much weight this guy has put on?” I simply did not know what to say. It took me back years – in many ways.
People gain weight for many reasons: It can be because of fertility treatment, numbing the pain of trauma or abuse, mental health issues, stopping smoking or alcohol/drugs, medication for chronic diseases, starting/stopping the pill. People lose weight for a variety of reasons some of which are unrelated to dieting: illness, depression, trauma, medication for chronic diseases (yup they can work both ways) etc.
I write this because I am genuinely interested to know about whether other men have body image issues or have been the recipients of body shaming. I also want to say that we should never ever, ever, ever comment on someone’s weight. Ever. Period. And you will notice from the above that much body shaming masquerades as humour. Don’t do it to be funny. It’s not funny. Ever. If a person has put on weight, they do not need you or anyone else to tell them so. Believe me, they have noticed. If they have lost weight, perhaps it’s because of sickness or depression. The only time it is acceptable to comment on someone’s weight is when you are VERY close to them and you know for sure that they were a) trying to lose weight or b) trying to bulk up. And even then, tread damn carefully.
*If you would like to comment anonymously on this post please put ‘anonymous’ in the contact details section of the comments.