Body positivity was a completely alien term to me before I met my partner. I had grown up with the same ideals as everyone else: six-pack, triangular torso, a strong beard, and very, very tall. I never related thinking about looking that way 24/7 with anything to do with self-esteem; it was just what everyone wanted to look like. I didn’t hate the way I looked, I just thought I could look “better”. If I just tried hard enough, ate well enough, exercised enough… As a trans man, this brought its own challenges. No amount of exercise would get rid of my ‘girlish’ hips, no amount of spinach would give me bulging muscles, no amount of eating well so I’d grow ‘big and strong’ would make me taller.
"In a sense, I was content; I thought looking in the mirror and wincing was part of being trans."
It was only once I had chest surgery and began hormones that I realised, even with my shoulders broadening and bumfluff on my chin, I didn’t like the way I looked. It was at that moment that I understood that my thoughts were the problem, not my body.
I met my wonderful partner in a Costa on a normal day in March and spent an hour listening to her talk about body positivity. I watched how her eyes lit up when speaking about running a fat-positive magazine. I listened to the excitement reverberate in her voice when she was passionate about loving everyone, regardless of their body shape. I had been bitten by the body-positive bug.
As we grew together and years passed, I’ve learnt a hell of a lot more about my body than I ever thought I would. I realised that yes, I hated being trans but that my issues with my body were somewhat separate. I hated being short, I hated having a pot-belly, I hated having skinny noodle arms. Every transgender man I saw online was either built like a tank or very skinny and boyish. I wasn’t either of those men. I wanted muscles but did I want to spend 3 days a week sweating in the gym? Um, no. I also didn’t want to never eat carbs again, and my metabolism simply wasn’t built to make me slim and 'boyish'. What my body is built to do is love me.
Our bodies are primarily vessels. They try their best to filter out toxins, keep air in our lungs, and everything running smoothly. We are built to naturally fight for survival, even if our minds have given up. Now, not all bodies manage this successfully. Some people’s kidneys fail, some people’s muscles grow tired quicker than others, some people’s hair falls out of its own accord.
But every body tries.
That’s what I learnt from body positivity. Your body will always love you and try its absolute best to keep you alive and feeling well, and I love it for it. It might not be tall, it might not be muscly, and it certainly isn’t the body type I saw in magazines. However, it loves me, and I have to love it back. Because we all deserve love. Even the bodies we don’t like.
Author: Noah J Broadbent