Monday, September 17, 2012

For Fresh Faced and Cranky.

My darlings I've been sitting on a letter from one of our homies because I've been thinking about it deeply and you fresh faced, curvy and crotchety this is for you.

There is more to the letter which I'll address but this is the salient part:

And, for the love of all things holy, I do not want more attention from men. Not that I get a whole lot, but it's enough to enrage me, rather dangerously. I do not want male attention, since mentally, I am pretty much male. Or at least, very, very masculine.

I guess my question is, do you have any ideas on how to sculpt the body into something more male without resorting to near-death experiences involving surgery and that sort of thing? Let me state here, I know you don't necessarily advocate weight loss/diet things. Thing is, I do trust your advice far more than I trust most sites I've seen, fat acceptance or otherwise.
Okay first I am glad you trusted me to ask because we know I am not going to bullshit you because I love you. This is also going to be hard to read.

First thing.

From what you've said my friend, I think part of what you're feeling is dysphoria on an epic level. While you're reading this I want you to ask yourself a few questions and I am going to recommend some things as well.

The question, how much do you not want to be more feminine? That is important here because if you are a Trans* person you are going to have some really difficult choices both medical and personal ahead. If you haven't thought about that until now, think about it.

Next thing.

The short answer to your question about completely changing your body is yes and no.

Statistically speaking you could lose a shitload of weight but, you may not be able to keep it off without dangerous and disordered behaviors.

Once upon a time I too hated my curves. It wasn't necessarily a masculine thing for me but, I wanted to be hard. I wanted to look like Linda Hamilton in T2.  Unlike you I didn't ask anyone about this I just started doing it.

I won't go into obscene detail but, suffice to say I did EVERYTHING I was told I was supposed to do and beyond. My body never got those muscles, I did not have what I wanted and I was devastated.

Here's the thing my friend.

Unlike what the diet industry will tell you, you really just can't change the essentials of your body without major intervention that goes beyond exercise.

I won't tell you not to try but I will tell you that the ideas like: no pain no gain, and you can do it if you put your mind to it, are largely bullshit.

Look at some actual before and after pictures of people who have lost a shitton of weight. The fact is that overall bodyshape is going to stay the same.

You are free to try but I want you to know going in if that is what you decide to do, you may be disappointed.

Now you mentioned that you've gained a lot of weight. This is what I call misery weight. This is weight I am going to assume does not belong to you and it makes you feel bad. That is not awesome. I am fixing to get bossy so hold on to yourself.

First I want you to start taking care of yourself. Not because of fluffy rainbow filled body love but because you are a 36 year old person of color and you need to survive. So, in whatever way you can take better care of yourself. Drink more water, if you can walk an extra four steps a day do that. Take vitamins. I mean that. Take care of your insides too.

If you decide that you are not necessarily a Trans* person, perhaps a more genderqueer/genderfluid life is for you.

I suggest doing some research about binders and more masculine presenting clothes. You could also go the route of friends I've had and wear sports bras or minimizer bras. All of those may be uncomfortable but, it is up to you what you can and can't tolerate.

The next thing I want you to think about is shifting your view from OH SHIT I MUST LOSE WEIGHT to experimenting with other bodily changes.

What if you felt physically stronger? Have you considered getting into something like weightlifting?

That will not give you a masculine body per se, but it may alleviate some of your deep desire to change your body. It might make you feel mighty and carry yourself in mighty fashion.

That leads us to how you are treated.

I am willing to bet that as part of your aversion to male attention, you may walk around with your head down or shoulders slumped, or maybe looking as uncomfortable as you feel?

I am almost as old as you and routinely get treated like a child. I understand that I have a young face, I'm short, I'm chubby, I dress funny, I have metal in my face and often wear make up that is "not age appropriate". It pisses me off to no end.

I have noticed though that people do not try me when I look like I am not having it.

I stand with my back straight and my head up. Part of me dealing with that treatment is not allowing people to do it. I meet gazes straight on, I will cut someone off with a quickness if they are using diminutives or otherwise treating me like a child. When I need to I speak with absolute authority. Normally after that no one mistakes me for a teenager.

If you can work on learning to do this, I highly recommend it.

What I'm getting at (and I know you've figured me out by now) is that if you want to start a process of change, start inside.

Believe me, from years of failures I've learned that external changes will only go so deep.

Also if you do decide at some point that transitioning is for you, I want you to go into it as healthy as you can be. I say this because as a person of color it will be doubly hard. It's harder to get care, harder to just fucking exist and I want you to make it.

I want you to come out the other side of all this bullshit thriving and ready.

I also want you to remind yourself that as much as you might hate it right now, it is not all your body's fault. I want you to look at your body and if you need to apologize if you've been mean. I know how that sounds but look, your body can't be what you envision it all by itself.  You have to reseat yourself in your body and work together.

This is really fucking hard and I want you to have as many tools to help yourself if or until you seek professional advice.

Outside of your actual physicality, think about other changes you can make that are not expensive and may help alleviate some of what you're feeling.

Cut your hair? Try wearing a fade, start dreadlocks, go shiny bald.

I say hair because hair will grow back. Hair is malleable and I bet you could find a barbershop that you can afford.

I can't help you with the aging. Sugar, we are just crackle free. I never say this but you know what they say, Black don't Crack.

Now I have one last thing for you to do okay?

I want you to try out some small changes. I want you to give yourself some time with these things. Nothing is going to make you feel better overnight. Even if by some miracle you woke up tomorrow with the body of your dreams. We are not magical unicorns so we have to work.

Keep track of what makes you feel good, thinking about or actually cutting your hair, drinking more water, trying out taking a five minute walk at some point during your day. You won't change miraculously quickly buy give things at least a week or two.

Then after you've tried some things and thought about some things I want you to come back here and ask me more questions. Tell me how you are feeling and doing and we'll talk more okay?

Now, Fresh Faced and Cranky I love you. I want you to be as happy and healthy as you can and I am here to help.


Homo Out



Vianica said...

I came here from Shannon's Tumblr wanting to add something, but y'know what?

I couldn't possibly. Shannon has exemplified her own awesomeness and covered everything I could possibly begin to think of.

I'll just add my voice to "I want you to be as happy and healthy as you can." And throw in an internet hug for good measure.

TabbyCat said...

Fresh Faced and Cranky, here.

First, I had a bit of a giggle at the "fluffy, rainbow filled body love" part. I wondered if it included frisking unicorns and My Little Ponies...

I digress.

As to the rest of it, thank you so much for responding! You have no idea how much you confirmed some things for me with your kind advice. I am right now working on letting my hair grow out for dreadlocks, as cutting it off doesn't seem to actually give me a more masculine look -- I get told often that I look pretty feminine, even with no hair.

I am also working on finding exercises I can do that will not make me go, "No, fuck YOU." Which, at this point is basically yoga. Lots and lots of yoga and walking. The sports bra idea is also one I am trying, and it's actually amazingly comfortable. I do feel somewhat better with the boobs smushed down and under control I will be asking more questions as I get further along in things, but for now, I am starting with what you have already suggested, and keep this post bookmarked for reference so that I can try each thing as thoroughly as I possibly can. I do realize that there are things I am not going to be able to get rid of without surgery, and am exploring ways to minimize the hips as much as I can, or at least not have them figure (ha, see what I did there? PUN.) so highly in my look. For instance, I have dug up pics of Tracy Chapman, whom I have been told I bear some resemblance to -- she does an amazing job of looking fairly androgynous, and as I looked at these pics, I realized she and I have a fairly similar body type, though I am heavier than she is. The main thing is, I can draw from that, because she has a realistic ideal that I believe I can be happy with.

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