I am not a model
I will never be a dancer
Or a Go Go boy
Or the calendar image for the month of July
But I am everything it took to stay alive
And I’m sorry if that’s not good enough for you.
You see while other kids were learning to fly kites and skip stones
I was learning to stay alive
Learning to hide when I heard his truck in the driveway
Learning to cook so his table was never empty
Learning to cope.
You see they tell you about trauma
And how it makes you do crazy things
Like screaming in the dark
Shaking at the doctors office
Or pretending you aren’t even there
But they never mention the emptiness
The bottomless chasm in the center of your abdomen
Where your will to live used to reside
But so close to your stomach you can taste it
Eating more and more to try to fill it
And when the walls of your stomach stretch like a lung full of air,
You can almost imagine how it might feel to be whole again.
You see I developed my first eating disorder when I was 12
The year of broken glass and silent tears
I grew up holding the weight of the family scapegoat
And perhaps I let the weight get the best of me
But hamburgers won’t hit you til you can’t hear.
Soda won’t shut you outside in a snowstorm.
And chips won’t chuck a child through a chamber and onto a chair.
I learned when I was young that the only person you can trust in life is yourself.
And that food is a love language I speak to myself.
But I never minded being fat
I never minded the looks
Or the sneers
Or the insults from peers
Because I knew they meant nothing
Like a wind from the east
And perhaps society told us as men that we had to take what was offered.
That when it came to careers
Or to insults or to women,
That we had no choice but to accept
And so I avoided the offers
Knowing that by the thickness in my thighs,
I avoided the unwanted attention
But I grew up
I grew into a man and learned who I was
Learned who I wanted
And that it’s ok to say no.
And now I know that weight means more to queer men than it ever did to straight women.
That being fat is a form of gay death
Akin to turning 30 (sorry gentlemen)
And that I never want to shrink to be loved
That I never want to feel that my only value comes from a perceived skinniness.
I am more than the pounds I have lost
Or the tears I shed
Or the carbs I counted.
Love is a heavy topic for a reason
It’s not meant to be thinned down
Or made sugar-free
Love should be thick
And full of all the moments where you didn’t think about how they might see you.
And all the time that went by when you almost forgot to hate the body you’re trapped in.
But how can you forget to hate it
When every time you begin to fade,
They call it progress
As if the most interesting thing about me
Is how well I can make myself disappear
But you’re in luck
I’ve been practicing.