I wake up in the morning, I look in the mirror. I get out of the shower, I look in the mirror. I stand up from my desk, I look in the mirror. I walk to my car after work, passing hundreds of reflective windows, I look in every mirror. Maybe this time I won’t look fat.
I have struggled with my weight since I was ten years old. I remember back-to-school shopping and being forced to buy husky jeans. I remember those same big boy jeans not fitting. I remember as a teenager transitioning into the Big & Tall section, even though I was not tall. I remember choosing between loud prints and stripes because nothing is more slimming than looking like a circus tent. I remember over-sized blazers and vests and layering layers. I remember believing the whole of the fashion industry existed to make me look as fat as possible.
As an adult I have cycled through at least a half dozen different bodies. I naturally have a large frame so I am never going to be “skinny”. Of course that fact did not stop me from achieving my then-life goal of wasting away to a 32-inch waist in my early-twenties. For good measure and balance I later ballooned to a 48-inch waist in my mid-thirties. I have worn every shirt size, from a men’s small to a gentlemen’s XXXL. I have the closet of a confused, deranged, possibly color-blind lunatic.
Perhaps the worst part of my ever-changing body shape is that I never sync up with the current trends. When everyone in America was sporting baggy jeans and over-sized sweaters in the mid-1990s I was at my thinnest. Low-rise jeans became all the rage just around the time I started buying my pants from the tent and awning section. For a brief, glorious period about eighteen months ago my body was on point and, even though I thought and still think it looks ridiculous, I was able to indulge in the skinny jean/slim fit movement. I shoehorned my meaty thighs and curvy ass into the skinniest lowest-rise I could find.
I am envious of every plus-sized gal I see. Women have so many choices in terms of clothes. They have entire stores dedicated to the fuller figure. They have foundation garments. They have beautiful women like Adele. But try being a fat gay man. Gay men have H&M with their impossibly tight t-shirts. Gay men consider crotch-hugging jeans a foundation garment. Gay men have that guy on Modern Family. Simply put, it ain’t easy being a chunky queer.
At this moment I am hovering somewhere in the middle, straddling a slim-cut 40-inch waist and an athletic-fit XL shirt. Some days I feel amazing, I look in the mirror and I see that 21 year-old with the impossibly small waist. Other days I see that fat ten year-old in the ill-fitting husky jeans. I have been at this for 3/4 of my life. I don’t know what the answer is…diet? exercise? body acceptance? I’ve tried them all and they have all worked. And failed.
Now that I have two kids the answer seems even more elusive. I want to feel and appear healthy for my children, to set a good example. I want to feed them foods that will make them feel and be healthy. I want them to be confident in their own skin. I want them to understand that even if I want or need to change my appearance, I am not ashamed of who I am or how I look. I simply want to be a better me.
I am determined not to cycle back into my fat body. I am determined to make better choices. I am determined to eat healthy, to go back to yoga, to accept my body — the thin, the fat, and the in-between.