Unless someone stumbles into Salemtown still reeling from the effects of a trip to BizarroWorld, nobody is going to mistake me for Adonis. I was blessed with pipe-stem legs and arms. I could have done something about adding some tone to the stems, but apparently it hasn’t been important enough to me to implement corrective action.
From the time I was a junior in high school until I was 38 years old I weighed nearly the exact same weight. I could wear the same pants, the same belt, the same shirts, if they had endured all those years. When I was a kid, my head grew to adult size, which coupled with my stick-figure body, led to an Ichabod Crane look that I learned to live with,despite the mostly friendly taunts from friends, and the concerned looks of the church women who were certain I could be ‘cured’ by a steady dose of casserole and their own special dessert squares.
Generally speaking, and there is an obvious recent exception, most people don’t insult large/overweight people to their face or in a way the insult can be easily heard (or seen). It, for good reason, is considered rude and untoward. For some reason, telling someone he ‘looks thin/skinny/unhealthy/sticklike’ has always been considered ok. The adult version, in fact, of the childish taunt is the pseudo-concerned face when expressing, ‘have you been ill’? This query, when asked by a close friend means one thing, but when posed by semi-strangers, is nothing more than a thinly disguised: I look ok, you don’t.
After age 38, my metabolism changed. The mountains of food that had heretofore been filling my empty stempipe leg or otherwise metabolised, suddenly begin loitering around my mid-section. For a few years, basic non-strenuous exercise could keep the pooch from pooching. Sadly, the war of the middle became a battle of non-attrition in my mid 40s, and the pooch pooched outward. An operation two years ago that basically opened me up from chest to pelvis didn’t completely heal, resulting in a hernia-like condition where muscle protudes slightly between the not-quite-closed curtain of my torso. If you look closely (and I’m not suggesting this!), you can see a weird shelf-like protrusion if I stand a certain way in a slouch. Obviously, I attempt NOT to stand that way and slouch.
Back in the day, back in gym class when I would see all these better-developed guys (don’t snicker….), I would be envious. I imagined a world where I would be judged by my form and outline, and worried that my prospects for acclaim, love and marriage would be as thin as my upper arms.
Gladly, at least for men, our form and build is not normally conflated with our worth, our personality and our ability to be a whole person. The fact that women don’t get this same break is fairly obvious in the world of entertainment and sadly, evidenced quite clearly in the recent blogger-dustup.
I’m not here to begin to say that people making fun of my bodysize or my skinny arms and concave chest were near the equivalent of what women go through when we ‘appraise’ their form. I can tell you it used to bother me a lot when I was younger, and that gives me at least a hint, a clue into the world of bodytype=inherent worth.
There is an old adage that supposedly helps a person get up in front of a room full of people when they are scared to speak in front of a crowd – ‘imagine everyone in the room is naked/wearing only their underwear’. Yeah, I guess this does rob the audience of some of their dignity, but I’d prefer a room full of people who understand that mental, physical and spiritual health have little to do with the way I, or they, look.
I’m off to Bizarro world……….
Pic above is from HERE.