Not too long ago, I reviewed a book by Lewis Howes titled The Mask of Masculinity. This book was a look into the different masks men wear to hide themselves and give the impression of their idea of masculinity. It is a great read for both men and women, and it is a book I look forward to reading again, as it truly spoke to me.
Growing up, I was relentlessly picked on for being smaller or skinnier than everyone else. Even to this day, people comment on how skinny I am and how “lucky” I am that I can eat whatever I want and never seem to gain weight. What they do not understand, is that for me, this is not a compliment. I struggle with this, just as someone who struggles to actually lose weight constantly feels every time they look in a mirror or step on a scale. After years and years of being picked on, never being able to gain weight, and personally thing sin my life, the last couple years it all came crashing down on me.
I was a high school and collegiate swimmer and was always in great shape. Sure I was skinny, but I was fit. Now I am a father of two and I workout most days of the week, but I do not feel the same. I SEE that when I step on the scale I am near the ideal weight I always wanted. But when I look in the mirror, I have trouble seeing what I am supposed to see. My arms are skinny, my tummy looks like pudge and I just do not like the overall look and form. Because I grew up playing sports and the athletic kids were always the popular ones, I somewhere along the way combined them together and now I struggle with untying my masculinity to strength, physique and athleticism. I often fight the urge to cry when I see myself in the mirror, and just hope that somebody notices how hard I have been working in the gym, or provides a genuine compliment that lifts me up.
I think it is strange for many people to think of body dysmorphia in this way, as for most, it is an issue with trying to lose weight and always seeing themselves as overweight. But the truth is, the ectomorphs (such as myself) struggle with this too. We struggle with how we look. We struggle with our masculinity. We just simply struggle with all aspects of weight gain, loss and muscle.
So the real question is: why am I sharing this. Where is this pointless narrative going and what does it have to do with who I am as a person and bettering myself. Well for one, as one of my daily struggles, I want to share with others that men struggle with this too. And not just overweight people, but skinny people too. Also, I am hoping to inspire others to work their system and find the truth in it all. I know that my masculinity is not tied to this (as hard as that is for me to believe), but more than anything I do not want my kids to feel the same way. My daughter is 6 and my son is 4 and I want them to always have a positive image of themselves and not let others get to them. I want to show them that even if lacking muscles, I am strong in my heart and strong in my head, and hope to lead by example for them too.
Do you or someone you know struggle with body images, or have a story similar to mine? I would love to hear how toy work on this and steps you take to keep a positive mind. Feel free to share below and help to inspire others who are struggling and want to better themselves too.
Have a great day!