Just the other day I was having lunch with a dear friend of mine, and the words that were exchanged through the bites of our meal got pretty heavy,
you know, we actually talked about real things.
Our friendship has spanned a few months, and although it is pretty easy to be get along with Andrea, it hasn’t been so easy to reach a place of vulnerable friendship, a place where if the friendship ended there would be emotional loss.
What’s odd and most comforting about our friendship is that it’s completely platonic, which I think has assisted in the ability to share real life with one another.
So, at lunch, Andrea and I got on to the topic of body image and I shared with her that when I look in the mirror, I still see the 220-pound version of Dennis not the 190-pound reality of who I am.
It is frustrating to know that the words people have spoken to me over the years are still affecting me, even when I have worked hard to no longer be who I was labeled.
I was the fatty…
The white boy w/ the big ass…
I had back fat rolls when I would bend my torso in any direction…
And I used to say things like, “without love, they’re just handles”…
The issue is that despite my weight, or the amount of body fat I do or don’t have, my body shape and type is and will always remain the same, which means I have more fight to fight against this particular issue… oh boy.
It’s not often that we hear men talk about our body issues and physical insecurities, but they exist and more men deal with these insecurities than you’d probably believe!
Back to Andrea…
A little later into our conversation she looked at me and asked, “have I told you about my eating disorder”? “You have not”, I replied. She started to tell me about what she used to weigh and how she got to that weight, every ounce of it heavily laced with insecurity. My heart broke to hear the verbal, non-emotional expression of such deep pain.
Later this same day we went to grab a quick bite at Pita Jungle [where I still work one day a week]. After we ordered our food, our server and mutual friend told Andrea about a new Gluten Free beer that we had just started carrying, this was exciting news for Andrea who has celiacs disease doesn’t find many beers she can drink. It was a Raspberry Ale, and although she typically doesn’t like “fruity beers” she ordered to see if she could enjoy it. Flagstaff is a pretty small community and if you go into a place more than twice, you probably know most of the employees. Steve, my manager came up and said, “you sure you want to drink that? I won’t tell you how many calories it has…” Andrea and I looked at each other like, “this motha _________ right here!” Snickering slightly about his ignorance when he walked away, he quickly circled around again and said, “Oh, you’re not that fat, just drink it”.
At this point she started laughing and said, “If he only knew what we talked about at lunch…”
Steve standing there slightly uncomfortable said, “No really, the calories aren’t a big deal”. I looked at him and said, “If I was you, I’d probably just stop talking…” “Why?” he asked.
“Steve… leave it alone; if you know what I know you’d feel like a real jack-ass!” He just looked at me with this blank stare of complete ignorance, trying to help him get it I looked at him dead in the eyes and told him, “Think of the worst situation possible that involves a woman and her image…”
Sadly, Steve still didn’t get it.
A lot of times, we still don’t get it!
Whether it is a dude who makes fat “jokes” or freely using the comeback “Your mom!” around someone who’s mother has died, we need to be less ignorant, more aware, and probably ten-times more sensitive to those around us than we typically are.
Unfortunately the solution to this ignorance is such an elementary ideal that as “mature, wise adults” we look past it…
Think before you speak…
It can’t fix what’s already been done, but it will protect from unnecessary pain!