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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Bodies » Body Acceptance for Men

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Author Topic: Body Acceptance for Men
aveline
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My boyfriend as major body issues. He's 220 lbs., over 6' tall (I've no idea how tall, exactly) and he hates it with a passion. He's constantly cutting himself down by referring to himself by really derogatory terms like "fat a**" and other things.

When he was younger, in elementary school or early middle school, his father died and because of that, he gained a lot of weight. He's lost some since 9th grade but it still bothers him immensely.

Today, I asked him if he was still feeling self-conscious and he told me yes, that he hated every part of how he looked. He said that he had stretch marks under his arms and continued on to call himself a "fat whale" (he has stretch marks on his stomach too, which he hates with a passion). He also told me that before he came to see me, when he was getting into the shower, he looked at himself in the mirror and just cried because he was disgusted with how he looked. He told me that he had gained another five pounds and that he was severely disappointed with himself. He's 17 and I'm his first girlfriend, so he gets the impression that everyone thinks he's ugly.

I told him that I thought he was gorgeous, and that gaining or losing weight isn't going to change my love for him. I told him that I'd help him lose weight if that was what he wanted and that I'd support him through anything. I always, always try to compliment him each and every time I see him because I know how bad his esteem is.

I don't like hearing that he feels this way about his body and I want to help. So, Scarleteeners, any suggestions? Any resources available to help him see his body as beautifully as it is?

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WesLuck
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Well, a recent discovery is that the bacteria you have in your gut apparently have a big impact on how much energy you get from your food. In times of famine, those who have a combination of gut bacteria that gets more energy out of the same food are at a big *advantage*. It's just that in a lot of places food is quite abundant, and it is a big *disadvantage*.

It might be possible, in theory at least, to get a gut flora transplant from a very healthy slim donor so that you get a combination of gut bacteria that do not get you nearly as much energy from food. However, the gut flora is collected from poo. Even though it sounds gross, if you can get past the initial reaction it may be that if you get a gut flora transplant from a healthy slim donor one might be able to "inherit" the lower energy output of the donor's gut bacteria.

For an explanation of this, and other cool insights, an excellent, relatively new book is:

Brain Food
Kruszelnicki, Dr Karl

However it is an Australian book, so hopefully you can get it!

As I said, it is early days with the bacteria energy discovery, but in theory at least, a gut flora transplant from a suitable donor could help some people.

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September
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 25425

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Wes, the poster specifically asked for advice on helping their partner accept his body. Advice on little-researched weight-loss techniques are neither what the poster was asking for, nor something we can endorse here.

[ 01-18-2012, 01:55 PM: Message edited by: September ]

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Johanna
Scarleteen Volunteer

"The question is not who will let me, but who is going to stop me." -Ayn Rand

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Robin Lee
Volunteer Assistant Director
Member # 90293

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You're already doing a lot to help him. You give him support and compliments. You offered to help him lose weight, but only if that's what he wanted (did I understand that right?). Your post actually made me smile a lot because your support and caring shine through so clearly.

.

Unfortunately, society doesn't seem to recognize that guys have body image problems. Of course, society recognizes that young women have body image problems but doesn't really do anything to prevent them, but that's a rant for another day.

One thing that occurs to me is that when you compliment him, compliment him on things that he does, or says, or accomplishes, as well as on his body. It's good for him to feel good about his body, but the other side of that is to become less fixated on his body. Does that resonate at all or is he pretty confident in other areas of his life?

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Robin

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WesLuck
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(Well, if you can't endorse it, even as a theory, that's up to you. However all sorts of chemical stuff happens when you are are very overweight that makes it a lot harder to do a lot of things, and has big health effects too. I'm not saying that it isn't fine to focus on ways to improve self-image regardless of body weight, however it is a fact that there are a large number of societal and health disadvantages that goes with being very overweight that would not occur if people found a proven way to be able to reduce weight in certain carefully chosen cases - I am aware that the above post only tells of early days, not anything proven, since it is not a proven treatment at this stage. The above post however does tell of a promising insight that how much energy bodies get is at least partly to do with their gut flora and how much energy they extract from food, and how it might be possible to change gut flora in a given individual.)

Putting this in bold because there does not seem to be a font size option in the BBCode.

Would it help to say that the food industry has in some cases made food that actually makes you *more* hungry after you eat it? So in some cases, overweight-ness has more to do with certain elements of the food industry tricking the "hunger" centre in your brain than it does indicating that you are deliberately "eating too much", whatever that is.


[ 01-19-2012, 10:15 AM: Message edited by: WesLuck ]

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naplement
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wes, the thing is, that even if in ten years this procedure would be accepted by the medical community, this wouldn't help the poster's boyfriend having a healthier self-esteem. He needs (emotional/mental/psychological, not medical) help right now. He will decide if he wants to change his body later. And he will choose himself a procedure for that, if he wants to do it, even later.

I think that even people who are under treatment for health-risking levels of fatness (and it won't risk your health at levels well above what we are made to see as acceptable) shouldn't feel bad about themselves in the way the poster's boyfriend does.

Imagine a diabetic being ashamed of needing insulin and thinking that their insulin-needing body must be not good enough for their partner, even if they say that they actualy love it. It wouldn't be too emotionally healthy, wouldn't it?

The difference between the two cases is, of course, that bodies that are unable to create their own insuline aren't used everywere as signs for ugliness, laziness and other sins (gluttony?). It is socially accepted to lust for a body with insufficient insulin-making organ(s?). But fat people are taught to think about their body as unlovable, even if it is in perfect health.

So no, this is not about health.

I'm sorry that I can't add anything useful for the original poster. Does he read stuff from the fat-positive movement? Or does he know about the communities where his bodytype counts as desirable? Maybe fanpages of fat actors, like this http://fuckyeahjackblack.tumblr.com/post/10539043711/i-think-we-can-all-agree ? Other than that, I am really unable to give any advice. sorry

[ 01-19-2012, 03:26 PM: Message edited by: naplement ]

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Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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Just to be clear, often even when overweight people DO lose weight, body image issues they had before aren't magically fixed. Body image issues really stem less from what a body looks or feels like and more from the way people do or don't accept their bodies, no matter what they're like. It might help to bear in mind there fat people with great body image, and average-sized or thin people with terrible body image.

So, if we're going to talk about improving body image in ways that we know are most effective, we need to focus on someone's feelings about their body, rather than the body itself.

aveline, did your boyfriend ever have any grief counseling around the death of his father? It sounds like his feelings about his father and his death are a big part of his feelings about his body.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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WesLuck
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I understand what is meant now. Sorry about getting carried away! [Smile]
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Jill2000Plus
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Naplement, you are right both about the weight=health fallacy and about Jack Black being extremely attractive (at least he gets my vote).

I wanted to say to the OP that as a fat person, I wish everyone was as kind to and supportive of their fat partners as you are. You are doing a great job of supporting him. I second the comments other posters made about complimenting him about things other than his looks as well, and about finding some fat positive resources for/with him.

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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