If you’ve ever read a blog post of mine, you’ve probably noticed that I sometimes like to write about how I seem to love feeling inadequate — especially when it comes to potential husbands. As a result, I’ve been confronted by a few close friends for being too hard on myself and putting myself down too often in my writing.
I usually respond to this criticism with, “But my low self-esteem is what makes me me! Without it, I’d be totally worthless.”
(Please let that remark simmer for a moment so you can fully appreciate the irony.)
Let me assure you, my low self-esteem is admittedly exaggerated in this blog (I swear I don’t hate me). Still, I do sometimes have to remind myself that the gallon of ice cream I guzzled the other night doesn’t make me entirely unlovable. This is why I have these strategically-placed post-its in front of my desk at work:
When not convincing co-workers that I’m weak and emotionally fragile, these affirmations can be a huge help and are highly recommended for anyone else who occasionally guzzles ice cream and feels unlovable.
Speaking of ice cream, let’s discuss the sole source of all my issues — my fatness. (Note: I am referring to gay-fatness, which is its own, effed-up scale. Straight people often tell me I’m thin, which, coming from straight people, unfortunately means nothing.) This fatness (along with my body image issues in general) has been the main focus of my life for the past several days — mainly because this was said to me last week:
“I mean, you’re not that fat. I still wanna have sex with you, or else I wouldn’t be here.”
Seriously, that happened.
It was during a conversation between myself and Lou — a guy I had been spending time with over the past month in spite of the fact that on our first date he openly admitted to only wanting a casual friendship with benefits (something I think we all know I’m incapable of by now; see: any past blog post).
I think I ignored my better judgment with Lou because he’d kiss me affectionately and feign an interest in my feelings every once in a while, so I was at least able to pretend that he cared about my well-being on some distant level.
For the sake of my mental health, I’m going to refrain from recapitulating the entire fat conversation. I’ll just say that it started with Lou helpfully suggesting that I stop drinking beer on a nightly basis, eat healthier, and start going back to the gym. It ended with the above-quoted declaration of my fat-but-not-fat-enough-to-be-rejected-for-sex-by-Lou status.
Because my work post-its clearly weren’t enough to combat the severity of this situation, I went into full self-hatred mode and actually went to the gym with Lou a few days after the incident.
I’m still sore from that workout (both physically and emotionally).
Here’s a tip: If you’re ever craving a traumatic experience, simply go to the gym with your super-in-shape non-boyfriend and allow him to coach you through various weightlifting exercises while you cry on the inside and fantasize about him getting killed in some kind of freak bench pressing accident.
First of all, Lou was lifting about three times as much as I could. This added a horribly quantitative element to how much better than me he is. Secondly, whenever he’d spot me, I had this whole how-many-reps-until-I’m-good-enough-for-you?! thing going on in my mind. (Answer: Infinite.)
Despite the trauma, though, I woke up the next day feeling better about myself than I have in a while — and I couldn’t help but wonder if Lou is some kind of evil genius.
By doing what he did, he has provided me with the following revelations:
- I got called fat — something that I’ve lived in complete fear of for all of my gay years — and I survived. The world kept spinning. No puppies died, I didn’t fall out of a window, and Manhattan didn’t burst into flames or sink.
- My diet kind of was crap. While I made healthy choices whenever possible, there’s no getting around the daily beer consumption and penchant for buffalo wings that Lou unabashedly called me out on.
- At some point in my crazy-busy life, I stopped going to the gym altogether — and I did feel less healthy because of it.
Thanks to Lou, I’m now more motivated than I have ever been. I’m eating healthy and being the most active I’ve been since before I went to grad school and gained twenty pounds. It’s kind of awesome — and I swear the impetus behind it is not to gain the approval of a gym-obsessed gay man; it’s to feel better about myself and maybe decrease my odds of heart disease down the line.
So in the end, despite the fact that I wanted to cry hysterically and stab Lou in the eye at the time of his fat comments, I’ve come to realize that — even though he was being insensitive — he was not being intentionally malicious. He’s just a health fanatic with a hot body who couldn’t help but comment on the fact that I am not living up to my healthy potential.
That or he’s just a judgmental prick — which might be okay, since I love feeling inadequate anyways.