A ‘bikini body’ is a body in a bikini.
What a revolutionary thought. But, often we wish this was easy to follow and to believe. Body positivity and loving who we are on the inside and the outside is a tough journey- especially with the stigma that is often thrown at us by different people in our life- whether friends, families or strangers. These obstacles are not easy to overcome, and indeed, loving yourself is the greatest revolution there is. Slowly. But steadily.
Body positivity and the journey to break away from existing societal norms find a new intersection when it comes to queer people- while already being shunned by the society for being different, a queer body is also gazed at in different respects- sometimes over sexualised, sometimes being forced into boxes and at other times with disgust and as an attack.
Here are accounts of body shaming faced by queer desis in different walks of their lives with different people- some close, some not very close.
Well it is quite hurtful, I was new to the community, had someone anonymous message me on grindr saying that I’m so ugly and fat that if was a girl no man would ever fuck me and that I should probably die. I think receiving that hate at 19 affects you mentally a lot. It’s like one horrible memory of being part of the community and the app, it has made me always tell and remind the other person before I meet them of the fact that I am chubby and ask if they are OK with that.
‘Single body’ said the old relative oscillating her index finger like a metronome at a very young me. I never felt bad about it cause single bodies were best for jumping and running and young children like to do that the most. It never seemed I’d ever be anything different and different body types were a myth to me till desk jobs happened. A few years of working at a desk, undisciplined eating and long hours of commute ensured I was too drained of energy and constrained for time to keep fit. I sought food for comfort and a skinny fat body type crept on me like a double chin and expanding waistline. Being skinny fat wasn’t the body I wanted to be in. I loved the athletic body of my 20’s and I wanted it back! I wanted to jump and run without my lungs threatening to give up. I wanted to move without the excess baggage of subcutaneous belly fat. I wanted a Jawline in my photographs and every time I looked at my reflection. So I decided to change things.
This was May of 2018 and I stumbled across a pattern of eating called intermittent fasting. I was sold on its benefits and took the discipline of eating during specific times as a challenge and it worked well for me. I felt more energetic and combined with regular physical activity I felt my athleticism return. My body composition improved and I was closer to fitness goals I had set for myself.
The problem was I apparently went below the society’s standards of what it deemed the correct body type for me.
At an LGBT event I was commented about how I was going to extremes with my chosen pattern of eating and how I looked unhealthy. This at a time when I was feeling better about myself and the discipline I had cultivated towards eating. Seriously, people need an education to stay within personal boundaries. To them my personal journey and experiences don’t matter, all that matters is my body type being an opportunity to make unsolicited comments and opinions. Body Shaming happens to every body type.
No body deserves to be body shamed for whichever body type they have.
As a queer person, I’m very far away from the heteronormative standards that India holds.
When I was in college, I was closeted. I was in a relationship with a girl but it was super secretive. It was a very toxic environment. Although she was dating me, a female, she was very heteronormative in her thought process. I was struggling with my gender expression, and often wanted to dress in a more masculine way. And at one such time, she said “Why do you have to dress like such a lesbian?!”
Obviously she meant in a derogatory way. I was very hurt that someone I loved couldn’t support me. I wasn’t confident with myself until much later because people keep telling you to be a certain way. And if you’re not that way, somehow it’s okay to be judged upon.
I was a healthy boy since my childhood, and as I reached adulthood I still had or rather have an appearance which is not the most desired one in this world of perfect bodies. The worst was that I never realized in my early years that I should do something about it. Some people loved me the way I was, some out rightly rejected me and made fun of me.
Once I was out on a date back in 2008. It was pre app era of dating , we exchanged numbers and dress codes , decided to meet at a particular spot in my town . I went there waiting for him to turn up. I didn’t realize he was watching me from a distance covering up his face. Later, I realized it was him . He passed by me, walked away and texted me ” you fatso don’t dare to message me again” it was the last message I got. Later, through a common friend I got to know that he was my immediate senior in college.
I didn’t get in touch with him but as my Identity was revealed to him as a gay man I was constantly worried.
A few years later, while I was on a late night flight from Bangalore to my hometown and coincidentally he was seated next to me.I spoke to him with patience and kindness, and talked about our well beings. At last, I told him that he shouldn’t have sent that message. He said he was guilty but I’m not his type. I told him that I forgive him, but I wouldn’t forget.
Five thoughts on learning to love my queer body.
- When I was bullied for being short, I hated my body. On so many days, I wished I was taller. I would hang from places, ignoring the searing pain in my arms, to let their hatred and my determination stretch me taller. I do not know when and why I stopped. I just remember my body telling me, it does not deserve this pain. I agreed.
- I let regret, guilt, fear and hatred dictate where to make cuts and how. My body learned to heal and left no scars. I often touch the places where I cut with nostalgia. This remains a secret between us.
- When it had its troubles with hormones and pimples, I drank lots of water and used up all the ice and lemon and orange peel mask I could get my hands on. When it didn’t work out, I gave it pills and my body responded with gratitude.
- Every time I kiss, I make sure to touch them everywhere my hands could travel. It is almost always reciprocated. And when it is, every touch is a kiss on my body.
- In the moments of self-pleasure I imagine our bodies engulfing each other more vividly than I see the men on my screen. On all the nights you have loved me, this body has known it is lovable. On all the nights you haven’t, my body still remembers.