“It's very strange, I thought, but things are so unreal for them normally that they believe that to call a thing by name is to make it so. And yet I am what they think I am.” - Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
“I am upset because I was not the center of attention and nobody said I was the prettiest.” - Blanche Devereaux
Today a friend sent me a screenshot of a tumblr post with pictures of my BG East match with Chace LaChance. The author had written a story to go along with the pictures, similar to the match descriptions on the BG East website, that focused on the contrast between Chace’s body and mine. “There’s something appealing about seeing a younger tanned built dude...take on an older fit DILF!!!” it begins. He’s described as having “more time for the gym” while I am “too busy with the kids to work out...but still in good shape.” The description goes on in this vein, and at one point the author imagines Chace taunting me by calling me “old timer.”
Now, I won’t lie—my first reaction was shock, and my reply to my friend was a gif of a man jumping out a window, which I meant as a joke, mostly. As much as I should be flattered being called fit or a DILF, I couldn’t help but focus on the negatives. Part of me wondered, why drag my 37-year-old butt to the gym 4 times a week if I’ll just end up looking like I’ve let myself go?
But then I put my Professor Hulk glasses on and thought about it some more. The author wasn’t trying to insult me—he doesn’t know me. He was just using my image to get across a certain idea he has in his head that turns him on. And so what if he or his readers think I look a little soft next to a professional fitness model? The images on gay tumblr mostly come from a fantasy world where you can get huge just from working out regularly, and anyone who isn’t jacked must not be trying. I know that I work hard to stay in decent shape on top of my other responsibilities. And part of the effort required to look that big is taking in a huge amount of calories each day. I tried that for a while and mostly felt miserable (and very gassy). Oh! And most importantly, I reminded myself that the guys who really turn me on tend to be on the slender side—the Kirk Donohues and Skrappers and Christian Taylors—than guys with exaggerated muscular physiques. So why in the world would I beat myself up over not looking a way that I don’t personally find that attractive to begin with? It’s madness, and all comes back to our need for outside approval to counter the insecurity we feel inside.
I’m still gonna hit the gym tonight—back and biceps—and remind myself that I’m not accountable to anyone but the guy in the mirror, who I think looks okay the way he is, though there’s always room for improvement. And maybe I will suggest that BG East start a “Dueling DILFs” series, where average-looking suburban dads wrestle in a secret basement while their wives and kids are sleeping. :)