I’m Not Bulking, I’m Just Eating

1/26/2019

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With the New Year finally upon us, resolutions are being made by all those who are hoping to change or improve upon some aspect of their lives, in the coming year. Maybe you want to read more books, perhaps you want to spend more time with family, or you could be one of the countless people who makes a resolution to change some aspect of their body. This last type of resolution seems to be one of the most popular, yet it can mean something incredibly different for each individual person who chooses to pursue it.

In the LGBTQ+ community, there is what some might call an unhealthy fixation on body type and build; for example, there are numerous molds an LGBTQ+ man could allegedly fill – ranging from twink to bear, or jock – that all have their own “standards” of what constitutes an attractive individual. In the New Year, many men who identify as LGBTQ+ set a resolution of reaching the peak level of fitness that their tribe demands, regardless of the fact that every person’s body should be celebrated as beautiful in its own, unique way. Within this community, there is an incredible amount of pressure to look a certain way year round, and when the New Year strikes, the pressure to act to make it a reality increases tenfold.

In the past, I certainly allowed these standards to influence what my resolutions for the coming year would be; there were years of short-lived crash diets, flashes of intense workout regimens, and, overall, way too much time dedicated to unhealthy and ineffective ways of trying to achieve a look that I wanted…or at least a look I was told that I should want. Not only did I fail to reach these goals every year, but these failures contributed to feelings of self-loathing and insecurity as well. Not exactly what one would call a great way to kick off the whole “New Year, New You” way of life.

After several years of failure, I finally decided to focus on who I wanted to be, both physically and mentally, rather than what the world was trying to turn me into. I figured, “Why not be the best version of myself, instead of trying to force myself to fit a mold that no matter how hard I work, I will never truly fit into?” Instead of facing inevitable failure, I decided to set realistic goals that I was actually committed to achieving. In order to make my resolutions a reality, I did not need a quick fix; I needed an attitude adjustment and a lifestyle change.

Deciding to pursue this path has led to a much better life for me, one which I don’t feel the need to change with each and every year through resolutions. Most of the time, the resolutions people plan to tackle in the year to come are much more complicated than they appear, which means no quick fix is available. By truly identifying what I wanted to accomplish and understanding that it would take time, I was able to achieve a happy and realistic view of myself.

However, despite my change in perspective about how I view myself, I still get suggestions from people on social media and sometimes even in person about how I could improve my appearance. Things like, “You should change your hair back to this style” or “I like you better when you’re beefier” find their way into my inbox quite often, and in the past they would have shaken my confidence to the core. Now, I just ignore them.

One of the most recent comments (and what motivated me to write this article), was when I was enjoying my all-time favorite dessert: a brownie. As I was savoring the sweet treat, someone said to me, “Someone must have set a resolution to bulk up this year! You ate pizza and a brownie tonight!” I contemplated my answer as I chewed away; it seemed, at least to this person, that the only reason I would be eating this brownie (and the pizza before it) was so I could pack on some poundage. I finally politely responded with, “I’m actually eating this because brownies are hands-down my all-time favorite dessert, and they are particularly awesome after some pizza. I didn’t really have a goal in mind with this meal, other than enjoyment.”

The response I got in return was a nervous laugh and a confused look, and soon the conversation ventured elsewhere. I wasn’t offended by the comment, and I don’t think the person in question was offended by my response, but I found it to be sad that the only fathomable reason for eating pizza and brownies to this person was to fulfill some random resolution. I am all for committing to goals and sticking to them, but sometimes one needs to do something just for the sheer pleasure of it. I found it odd that there had to be some other reason behind my pizza and brownies other than, “This tastes good and I like eating.”

Perhaps a better resolution or outlook moving forward would be to keep comments about others eating habits, and what we perceive to be the motivation behind them, to ourselves. If you see someone eating a salad, don’t assume they are trying to lose weight. If you see someone eating a pizza, don’t presume that it is to add some poundage. Just let them enjoy their meals for whatever the reason may be, and try to do the same with your own.

Blaize Stewart
Blaize Stewart is a recent graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he received a BA in broadcast journalism and a MA in journalism. He currently lives in Chicago, IL and works as an influencer relations associate for a full-service influencer marketing agency called Faam and as an adjunct instructor at Robert Morris University. Additionally, he runs the LGBTQ+ blog Out Loud, a space for members to share their experiences and thoughts on current events and more.