Self Image and Deprecation: A Personal Narrative on Body Image and Mental Health

I’m Mad Because I Feel Bad

Graphic Paulina Dominguez

I’ve been trying to figure out for weeks how not to make this piece about my body’s shape incredibly depressing.

I haven’t found a way yet, by the way, probably because talking about this makes me so…defensive, and depressed.

There I go again, being all sad about the way I look.

If you haven’t seen me before, I’m what the cool kids call “thicc.” OK, enough sugar coating. I’m overweight. I’d love to tell you how much I weigh, but I haven’t weighed myself in years, basically because of the genuine fear of what the scale is going to tell me.

I do know that I’m big. I’m the guy in the bus no one wants to sit next to because I overlap on the seat a little. I’m the guy who takes too much room in a crowded restaurant trying to walk in between tables, so I have to do the weird crab walk shimmy to not knock over people’s drinks (sidenote: don’t leave your drinks too close to the edge of the table, I probably can’t afford to buy you a new one). I’m the guy who hates being called big guy or the much worse French equivalent “mon gros,.” If you’re gonna call me fat, just go on and say it, person who I have known for all of five minutes.

Loving the way you look is genuinely very good, and there are no bad shapes in nature. It’s extremely good if you like the way you look. In fact, it’s a pretty damn good message to send out to people, especially people who have very little presence or no presence at all in media outside the fringes when it comes to body types.

In fact, there should be way more variety in people in media in general, because if you’ve been outside oh, I’ll say ever, you’ll notice not everyone looks like the cast from General Hospital.

The thing is, I just don’t like how I look. I wish I did, but I don’t.

I hate the uncertainty the most. At this point, my weight could fluctuate wildly and I wouldn’t notice. I go down a pant size as easily as I get two back. Forty/34 today, gone tomorrow, as they say. I just want consistency in what clothes are going to make me look bad.

The thing is, I just don’t like how I look. I wish I did, but I don’t.

Look, I’m self-deprecating a lot, to a fault. I’ve done it loads in this article already. The thing I openly self-depreciate the least about though, is the way I look. Not to boo-hoo myself too much, but it’s really hard to write openly about things that actually make you feel really bad about yourself, it turns out. It’s almost as if it’s the one thing that’s “too real’’ for me to jokingly criticize myself for.

I’m very much of two minds about thinking so much about how I look; I realize that I shouldn’t carry my self worth in my physical appearance, because marketers already do that enough for me.

I just can’t help but tie how I feel with how I want to look. No matter what I try to do with my face, or hair, trying to wear clothes I like wearing, I look into the mirror and see a pear with weird, not quite emo hair and a scruffy, patchy beard. Except, the pear isn’t ripe and juicy, it’s weird and lumpy– and looking too long in the mirror thinking about what it must be like to not akin yourself to a weird, lumpy pear.

Speaking of how I want to look, that’s a funny concept in its own right. I don’t even really know what exactly “how I want to look” is, except it’s almost definitely “not like you do now.” I know it’s extremely damaging to think like this about oneself (trust me, I know), but that’s how I see it, for one reason or another.

While having multiple body shapes has become a bit more present in media and marketing, the vast majority of models are what you’d consider conventionally attractive. I’m not asking for every male model to look like me (good luck selling clothes with me as a model), but it would be pretty cool to not have a this body type for men be associated solely with the “guy who was in bad comedy movies 10 years ago is playing the klutzy dad!” Y’know?

I guess another big part of my self-disdain for how I look is the association of people who are overweight with rampant unhealthiness. I’ve seen a bunch of studies that either say certain diseases are more prone to happen, or another different ton of studies that refute them, and at this point I’m just kinda… scared of what’s gonna happen.

I don’t want to die when I’m 30 because I wear XL Star Trek t-shirts. I don’t want to die feeling shitty like I do now, getting one of endless diseases or various organ failures or anything. That thought has kind of been ingrained in my head on particularly bad mental health days, so much that last year I was sure I was having a stroke when I had a really bad headache, and went to the hospital that day for eight hours only to be told I was fine.

Yes, I know there’s a very easy solution to all of these problems: go to the gym, eat more romaine so I can lose a ton of weight through vomiting and pooping (with how real the last paragraph got, I had to go back to cheap laughs)—I know the deal. I guess that because I haven’t seen immediate change whenever I’ve tried to do it, I ended up skipping a day or two or 15 and not getting back to it, which is totally my fault. It also makes me think about how much I want to change, and change now, and the failure of that happening makes me feel bad about myself. It’s the vicious circle that can only be described as “I’m mad because I feel bad.”

For now, I guess I’ll have to make do with my 40-inch pants and my gut. I’ve had 22 years to come to terms with this body, let’s hope it doesn’t take 22 more to actually come to terms with it. But you, reader of this article, I hope you like the way you look, for your own sake. And if you don’t, I get that too, I really do. It’s tough to look at ourselves and be confident in how we look, because of societal norms, or how we want to look, or even due to a simple lack of the brain chemicals that make you feel not sad and deflated.

I guess what I’m trying to say is try and like yourself, even if I can’t always do that myself.