All photos: Getty Images
I'm a thin guy. I'm a VERY thin guy. Basically, I look like a normally proportioned 5'8" person who somehow got stretched to 6'4". I'm not sick (thanks for asking!); I'm not anorexic (thanks for asking!); I'm not a junkie or speed freak (no, really, thanks for asking!); I'm just really, really, abnormally thin. So anyway, you'll have to excuse me, ladies, for not being delighted by this conversation, one which I've had approximately ten gazillion times (usually in the cafeteria):
Female* friend/coworker: Oh my god, I HATE you, you're so SKINNY!
Me: Um... thanks?
This is usually followed with a pronouncement that "You're so lucky, you can eat anything you want!"
Lucky! Oh, lucky me! How did I ever get so goddamn lucky?
Image via. OK, I'm not this thin.
Lately, though, I've gotten a tad militant in response to this conversation. I point out that the word "skinny" is never ever a compliment in our society when applied to males. Then I bring up that they combined the insult with a declaration of hatred. Nice. Next, if they haven't run away yet, I reveal that, in fact, being skinny –as skinny as I am– is hardly what is considered to be the masculine ideal.
I'm fairly comfortable with my renegade skinniness these days, despite the constant well-intentioned reminders, but it wasn't always the case. I used to be ultra self-conscious about it. I used to wear boxy, baggy clothes all the time in a ridiculous attempt at disguising the undisguisable, not unlike a 300-pound person wearing vertical stripes. Have you ever seen the movie Zodiac? In one scene, investigators puzzle over the fact that a male victim is wearing several shirts and pairs of pants in the middle of a heat wave (a true detail). They never explain it, but people like me nod our heads: we know what that's all about. In fact, cartoonist Dan Clowes, my physical near-twin, once told me that he used to do that.
I'm glad I got over the self-consciousness that used to practically paralyze me. And I'm pleased to report that, as a gay man, there are plenty of guys (even bears!) who actually find my freakish scrawniness attractive. But seriously, I would love to not be reminded of it on a weekly basis.
Oh, boy, there is so much more I could say about this subject! I'll spare you.
But anyway, do you know somebody like me? Are you tempted to tell them how "lucky" they are that they can "eat anything they want" and that you hate them because they're so skinny? Just don't, OK? We know.
*Sorry, but it's always a female. Men know that the word "skinny" isn't a compliment.
EDIT: Also, don't offer to "help" by suggesting dietary and/or exercise regimens in the comments section.