Thursday, May 30, 2013

Boy Body Talk

OK, this will be no surprise to anyone who knows me, but I'm a talker. The art of gabbing/conversation is part and parcel of my personality. I like chatting with people. In fact it took me a long time to warm up to texting's not talking.

What may be even more of a surprise is that I DON'T like talking about my body issues with folks. Well, of course, here on this blog, it's fine. It's not the aspect of anonymity that make it easy, but rather the ability to exposit my thoughts without declaring it a dialogue, even with a comments section. I'm not sure that makes perfect sense, even as I type it, but there it is.

But why is that? Well, to be honest, I have a rather adverse reaction to folks talking about their bodies. I was and in many ways still am, pretty self conscious about my body issues. Being scolded for being fat most of my life (even when it seems I wasn't as fat as I imagined), had left me not feeling quite permitted to join in on the discussion. And now that I'm in Streamlined mode, I feel I don't quite have the right to say "Oh, my stomach is still big" or "I can't fit in these pants" without usually getting a derisive look. Yeah, most of that's in my head, but weight issues and stigma can mess anyone up. 

There's been a lot of articles as of late on "Fat Talk," the self-denigrating process of comparing yourself to your friends about body issues. Of course, a lot of this pertains to women. Because men tend not to talk about this or bond other over weight and appearance. 

Is this why I don't like talking about it?

Well, it turns out a recent study of body talk among male college students showed the same results happen. The talk is less about "being fat" and more about muscle and definition, but hearing a peer talk about their body helped promote self-dissatisfaction. It seems like this should be surprising, but really it's nothing new:

And this is why I try to avoid these dialogues. When someone goes on about how fat or out of shape they are, I can only want to change the subject. Especially when it comes to clothes and fashion. Because then you never win.

After several years of ostensibly wearing muu-muus as shirts and ill fitting suits, I finally went to a real clothing store and had myself measured. What did I find out? Even in Retro Ska Librarian mode, my torso was taller than the "average" suit size and my arms were about 1 inch shorter then "average." Meaning I was a fat yet gangly, tyrannosaurus freak!

Actually, it was a very good eye opener for me. Because as I worked into my new Streamlined Ska Librarian body, I KNEW that clothes still wouldn't fit me properly, no matter how "perfect" I became.

So, yes, my suit size has decreased 5 sizes, but I still need to have the arms fixed and I can only wear "tall sizes". I can find nice shirts, but they still don't fall below my waist. It's not me. It's whoever decided what fashion is.  

It's one of the reasons I now order my dress shirts through this site. Their sales are actually cheaper than buying shirts here in the US, and they fit so much better than any dress shirts I've ever owned. It turns out my body is euro-centric!

And that's why I don't engage in body talk. I'm happy to discuss workouts and diet, injuries, even hair loss. But we can't all be competing to see who hates their body most. I think we'd do better just ignoring what fashion tells us.

Now, I'm gonna take my freakishly sized arms and pull up my sadly shaped pants over my long eurotrash torso and sweat it out!


Engeln, R., Sladek, M. R., & Waldron, H. (n.d.). Body talk among college men: Content, correlates, and effects. Body Image. doi:10.1016/j.bodyim.2013.02.001

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