This guest post was written by Ben St Ange
When you think of Body Positivity, what do you think of?
It’s probably not a 22 year old gay man who spends 90% of his time playing online games and collecting comic books, is it? And you might be right because I’m not the ‘represented’ type of gay man within society or within the LGBT community, though change seems to be happening.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no issues with body positivity dedicated towards women, because let’s be real, they need it a lot more with all the societal pressures they face that I don’t.
Although sometimes I wish body positivity was more inclusive of men who need that bit of positivity and representation in their life.
My personal experience with body positivity goes back a few years. I’d always been a slightly bigger person since I can remember. I don’t remember feeling ‘fat’ but I remember other people telling me I was fat and when you are ten, it definitely affects you. It will get into your core and hinder you as a person.
This negative effects of this body shaming continued with me for years to come until the age of 20 when I came across Tess Holliday. A visible plus size model that I could see myself in, finally!
My thoughts immediately became those of glee because I was finally seeing someone who was happy in their skin and that I could look up to. Seeing Tess I began to look into the movement effyourbeautystandards and other body positive resources. I began to follow a lot of body positive Instagram accounts, Facebook pages and other content. I began to notice a change within myself. I didn’t hate myself. I was starting to feel a sense of calm within me because I realised my own body was fine the way it was.
This was until I tried dating apps. It’s no secret the LGBT community as a whole has an image problem. The LGBT community within mainstream society is still represented 99% of the time by gorgeous, white, able bodied, cis-men. These gorgeous, white, able bodied, cis men also are favoured within the community.
That representation though is not a realistic portrayal of the members within the LGBT community. There is so many differences within the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender communities’ that I can’t even begin to even describe them. I’ve even met people who are not within the LGBT community who assume and continue to perpetrate the unrealistic ideals of what people within my community should look like. This can be present when looking at stereotypical gay people on TV.
I do not have abs or a body type that fits those ‘beauty standards’. These types of expectations and pressures have come up a lot on dating apps a lot. I’ve tried to use Tinder and Grindr, often I find gay men don’t know how to act and flat out ask rude questions or are searching for ‘Perfect bodies’. They ask personal things about my body and my experiences, totally crossing boundaries that I am not comfortable with. To ask invasive questions without knowing someone is such a huge invasion of their privacy.
I’ll be honest; sometimes within the gay community I do feel judged because of how I look. I know sometimes it may be my personal experiences and insecurities plaguing my mind but I feel like how I look isn’t accepted in the LGBT community it has taken a lot of time and self-love to feel comfortable within myself and as a member of the LGBT community.
That is why the body positive community is so important to people like me. Luckily I have the body positive community to engage with when I am feeling down and need some positivity. It helps especially with myself love, because self-love is important, no matter what size you are! Some people need a little, some need a lot and that’s fine.
My self-care over the years has changed as I’ve matured. It started with seeking constant approval from friends. Do they like me? Am I funny? Do they want to be friends with me? Constantly asking this because if they liked me, then I did too. My self-love was dependant on acceptance from others. As I got older and friends became less reliable (though some have always been there) I had to seek other forms of self-care. One of which was food. Last year I was working full-time anywhere from 46 – 63 hours a week.
My mental health was in a bad place because of the fact that I genuinely disliked my job. I started meeting up with my best friend, Venus on a weekly basis this became my new coping method. Venting and expressing how I felt over a plate of dumplings, tacos, curries and other food became my method of dealing with how negative my world was. I am so thankful for the people I relied on because without them I wouldn’t be where I am today. A mentally better person who has since quit his job and gone back to study and found my passion in life; Auslan. Australian Sign Language.
Sometimes I falter and feel myself reverting into the Ben I don’t like but I’m continuing to become the person I want to be. Every day I am getting that bit closer.
A little bit about the Guest Writer Ben St Ange
Hey, I’m Ben! I’m a 22 years old Melbourne guy. I’m pretty passionate about deaf rights (I’m an aspiring interpreter) and fashion and it’s ability to allow me expression. I spend far too much time reading comic books featuring diverse characters and playing online games.
Find Ben Online
Ben Instagram – @tac0.cat