“You’re cute for a fat boy,” is one of the many insulting statements, disguised as a compliment, I have encountered over the years. In my past, I would have brushed it off by smiling and feeling flattered, not thinking anything beyond that. Truthfully, I find it offensive. Why can’t I just be a cute guy and when did my attractiveness correlate with my weight? From a very young age, we are taught these two ideas cannot co-exist. It is impossible to be fat and attractive because it violates the deeply embedded standards of beauty society has imposed on our culture and everyday life. The fact is my weight and attractiveness have nothing to do with each other. I am good-looking because I am and my weight shouldn’t be a deciding factor in the equation.
As a plus size male, I have come to embrace my body, taking pride in my chest, my belly and my stretch marks. They are a part of what makes me unique and beautiful. I admit I haven’t always appreciated my looks. Growing up I was very critical of my weight and cognizant of how I was perceived by others. For example, I remember donning a white t-shirt over my abdomen, while at the wave pool, because I didn’t want to garner unwanted negative attention from being shirtless. I often felt insulted and belittled when people asked “Did you play Football?” or referred to me as “big guy, teddy, chubby or fat.” To cope I could have picked up risky behaviors like drinking, smoking or binge eating to make myself feel adequate, but I chose an alternative. Instead, I turned to grooming and my closet full of clothes.
It has always been implied through the saying “dress with confidence” that if you dress well, you feel well. Though I am not familiar with research on the topic, I know it has been true for me. My overall confidence and self-worth have benefited from a well-kept appearance through regular grooming, such as haircuts and pedicures, and outfit preparation.
Just as a painter uses a canvass to express her emotions and feelings, I do the same with clothes. I illustrate my creative energy and identity through my fashion choices. I no longer let society dictate what is appropriate for me to wear. If I want to be shirtless, I will be. If I want to wear a dress, I will. Clothes give me authority to be myself. If I so happen to challenge stereotypes of what it means to be masculine, black, chubby and male, along the way, so be it. I will no longer be ashamed of my body and how I am perceived. It’s about loving me entirely, imperfections and all, and not giving a damn or an excuse, because I have every right to feel comfortable in my skin. And, you do too. Stay encouraged.
Photography by Azebrowskiphoto