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Men and toxic body images

In my last Instagram post I talked about men and toxic body images, a lot of men don’t want to talk about mental health and the image of a „manly“ man that is put upon us by media.

Everyday we’re surrounded by hunky looking men, who don’t seem to show any emotions and are there solely to look handsome and be the protector of a tribe. But why? Men can cry, men can show any emotion, men can be delicate, feminine. We come in all shapes and sizes and it shouldn’t be anyones goal in life, regardless of their gender, to look like a carved out marble statue.

Is it nice to look at? I’d say yes, but also my perception has been changed and molded by the society surrounding us.

I’m no different to anyone else, and also I do think: who am I to say anything? A cis white gay man.

But then again I do have a history of eating disorders that started in ballet school, when I was told that I was too fat. Teachers told me I would jump higher, look better and so on if I would loose weight. I was 18 and believed every word, all I wanted is to be a dancer. That drove me right into anorexia nervosa. While I was getting skinnier with each week, restricting my diet to first one jar of baby food, then to a slice of toast a day, suddenly my teachers got afraid that I might get an eating disorder. I was way too deep by that time, I sought professional help and made it to a somewhat healthy relationship with food. Was I cured? No.

There is no cure, no quick fix, a part of me always has regrets after eating, I contemplate wether I should eat this or that, it’s always there. On the other hand I’ve learned to live with this toxic voice in my head and I do know that it’s not good for me, that I need food to keep my body going and I also love cooking and eating at the same time. So it’s a constant balancing act.

During the pandemic I worked out a whole lot, sometimes up to 5 hours a day. It kept me busy, it kept my head in the right place and helped me to stay sane while I just wasn’t allowed to do my job. I sort of plummeted into a form of sport bulimia. I saw the changes my body was going through, I was building more muscle, I was getting more defined, I really liked it so I started fearing that I might lose it all. So I tried to compensate anything I ate by working out. That led up to 5 hours of sports each day. Suddenly I realized that I was back in ballet school.

I’ve grown up, I’m in my mid thirties and so my eating disorder has grown with me. It evolved and I am facing it once more. I’ve reduced the amount of sports I do, I still work out a lot, because it does help me to stay sane, but I’m not trying to compensate.

Still I sometimes feel like I don’t look „good enough“, that I’m too fat, and I’m well aware that some of you might think this is fishing for compliments, but I do see me body differently to what people see from the outside. It’s a learning curve every day, and probably until the end of my life. One thing is clear: I need to respect my body and listen to it carefully, because I don’t want to end up like I did 16 years ago. I love my body and you should too, whatever the shape and size.

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