I have always been fat.
I have had someone comment on my body, appearance, weight, face, and voice at least once daily for thirty years.
Sometimes it was complimentary-ish:
"Oh, look at those cheeks, I just want to pinch them!"
"Oh what a handsome face you have!"
"When you get older and start playing football, you'll lose the baby fat and be a real lady killer."
"You're just a big old teddy bear!"
Most of the time, not so much. School was a nightmare, as it was for most of us, but I heard the worst of it at home.
I was being given Slim Fast at 3. Name a diet pill, I've been on it. Think of all the weight-loss gimmicks you've seen on an infomercial. Did all that too. The line was drawn at weight loss surgery, which oddly enough, would probably have been the most effective choice.
There is a certain acceptance of fat men's bodies so long as they are hyper masculine in every other way. Play football, do sports, get married, make babies and your fat will never be used as a weapon against you. You could also be the funny guy who likes to party and is nice to everyone and you'll probably be okay. If you are fat and gay, artsy, sensitive, feminine, smart - any deviation from the patriarchal norm, and you have purchased a ticket for abuse and torment.
I have wrestled with body image and self esteem issues for decades. There has been depression and anxiety in the mix as well. There are days when I feel great about myself and days when I never want to leave my house again.
Doing theatre helped - I've had to strip down to my underwear so that dressers could properly lace me into a costume and there isn't much room for self-consciousness when you have mere minutes to do a costume change and make your cue.
Finding the bear community helped, though Goddess knows I have my issues with the subculture.
I also had witchcraft. My initial exposure (ha!) to Wicca were books written before the days of robed covens or wearing street clothes in circle. Being a witch meant you were naked. That first book talked about an initiate and a Priestess taking a ritual bath together and lots of touching and kissing of body parts.
Kinky shit for a ten year old.
I remember the night I did the self-blessing ritual out of the book. I'd taken a bath and had a lit candle and sandalwood incense. I had no access to wine so I used grape juice. There was a part of me that worried I was buying a one way ticket to hell and that Satan himself was going to show up and eat me. The part that scared the shit out of me was the required nudity. Doing a witchcraft ritual and calling upon Old Gods to be present and notice you was one thing - being naked while doing religious things was quite another. Cultural Catholicism runs deep.
It was great, but I still wasn't down with the nudity. I've worked robed, which always felt ridiculous, pretentious and uncomfortable. I've worked in street clothes, which leaves you sweaty and smelling of incense for the rest of the day. I'd been practicing for awhile before I incorporated nudity into my rituals. It was different then and I did a lot of work around self-love (shut up pervs!) and self-esteem during my teens/early twenties.
Eventually, I was working naked all the time. I started hating my body and myself a lot less once I was spending time in front of GODS with all my imperfections on display. I don't think ritual nudity, even on a solitary basis, will be a healing experience for everyone but it was for me.
Nudity by myself is easy. I was happy being naked in circle by myself, but I didn't want anyone else looking at me. I figured if I ever found a coven I'd have to find one where any nudity involved would be completely optional - with me opting to stay fully clothed.
Fast forward a bunch of years, and I find myself interested in a few specific traditions of witchcraft. Those traditions are all skyclad traditions. If I ever train or initiate into one of those traditions, I have to be naked. The traditions and styles of practice that would cater to my comfort levels or my hang ups about my body don't interest me, I even think a lot of them are pretty dumb.
I don't want to be comfortable. I've never grown from comfort. I've only ever grown from being challenged.
When I finally circled with other people, I found myself amazed by a few things. First of all, it was hot as fuck in that room. Granted, put a handful of people in a room with candles and charcoal going and it will get warm, but this was in a nicely air conditioned room and I was still drenched in sweat. If they had asked me to strip down, I would have. Second, I didn't give a damn about them possibly looking at my body. We were focused on other things and my huge ass wasn't one of them.
I'm still not into being naked. I'm not even into being sleeveless, for crying out loud! If I had to change my shirt in front of someone that I'm not sleeping with, it would be a most dreadful thing for me. If I were about to witch-up with the right group of witches, I'd probably feel differently.
I won't know until it happens.
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