I don't feel sexy. At least not conventionally so. I like who I see in the mirror, but when I look down I see someone different. It's like from the front I'm H. Alan Scott, cool 32-year-old Hollywood guy, but looking down I'm Kathy Bates' body double.
I was always the fat kid. There were the occasional taunts -- I still haven't forgiven my older brother for asking, "How many bowls of cereal has that been?" -- but mostly I carried my weight well.
"Unlike your brothers, your fat proportions itself out across your body," my grandma told me once over ice cream.
At 24 I maxed out at 275 pounds and had my Oprah "ah-ha" moment. I put down the 1-liter of Diet Coke -- because who was I kidding? -- and went for a walk, then a walk-run, then a run. ... Two years later I had lost 100 pounds and quit smoking. (I threw in that last smoking nugget just to up my badass game.)
But 20-some-odd years of general Oompa Loompa-ness has left my body in quite a state, perhaps literally or maybe just in my head; Wonka has yet to decide. From my chest up is great, and my legs are mighty pieces of man meat, but my midsection looks like a wilted orange: soft, uneven and a little fuzzy.
"You dress well," my date started to say during our obligatory post-sex cuddle talk, "you hide your shape well." Uh, thanks?
I reject the term "skinny fat" for its inherent shaming connotations, but deep down I'm almost positive that's what I am. I've hiked up all the pants and pulled even more of the shirts low, I've been through every compression T-shirt on the market, and I've added more layers than Anne Frank on moving day -- whatever it took to hide my midsection. I'm convinced my lower back problems all stem from trying to conceal that booty-like stomach that hangs there when you're in the top position during sex -- though I tell dates it's from CrossFit, because check out* these guns.**
*points to guns
**considers using actual gun on self
Men aren't ever taught how to talk about our bodies. In our patriarchal society, it's not manly to openly feel bad about the way you look. The one advantage to the massive industry of body shaming directed at women is that it allows them to at least talk openly about their bodies. We're left cracking jokes about our bellies while quietly hating the bullshit Instagram celebrities who are famous only for their amazing ability to fit their six-pack into every selfie.
It doesn't help matters that I'm a card-carrying member of the gay community, where your body is more of a qualifier for sainthood than your actions. Don't believe me? How many straight men would tell a girl she hides her fat well after sex? Only the ones that really want their dick cut off.
I'm fine with the way I look, booty-stomach and all. Of course I'll still stress about it and work hard to keep it healthy (which doesn't just come in one form). But maybe we can start appreciating all types of bodies, and sizes, and the many genders we're so fortunately blessed with in 2015? Because, like, life is way too short to be swiping left on folks that could potentially change your life for the better.
This article originally appeared on Thought Catalog.