Body Image in the LGBT+ Community: Aimee's Perspective
"Body image and sexuality/gender expression are very closely tied for me. When I entered the “questioning” phase in my senior year of high school, I channeled a lot of the distress I was feeling about my identity into my body. I struggled with binge eating disorder and had a hard time being able to feel positively about my body. I finally accepted that I was not straight as I graduated high school. Consequently, this was also a turning point in my relationship with my body; I was determined to lose weight before college because I had internalized that I couldn’t be accepted into the LGBTQ community if I was overweight. I unfortunately traded one set of unhealthy eating habits for another and restricted myself to 500 calories per day that entire summer and spent at least an hour per day on the treadmill, working out to the recently released “Born this Way” album, feeling like if I wasn’t going to be straight, I needed to lose weight and fit into perceived traditional feminine beauty ideals to “make up” for it.
While I have a healthier relationship with my gender expression and body image now, I do still struggle to manage disordered eating and keep from letting fluctuations in my weight dictate my mood and outlook on life. After being out for seven years, I have seen how inclusive the LGBTQ community can be and how one does not need to fit into a single body type or mode of expression to fit in. However, to say there are few members of the LGBTQ community who deal with discrimination due to their body type, gender identity, or gender expression is untrue. As much as people can be built up by expressing themselves honestly and fully, they can also be torn down by both those outside the LGBTQ umbrella and within it. There are several people within the LGBTQ community who don’t have the safety to present in a way that is affirming without being targeted by others.
Within the LGBTQ community, there have also historically been many words to identify people based on their body type/expression (femme, butch, androgynous, etc.). When I first came out, I felt as though I needed to cling to the “femme” label to fit in, but as I’ve grown, I’ve learned that it’s perfectly okay to not identify within any of these groupings too. The picture I’ve chosen here also embodies a bit of my relationship with beauty standards and how I present to the world. I have a neck scar from thyroidectomy surgery two years ago, but if you try to find the scar in this photo, you won’t. While I’ve gotten used to the scar and now see it as a part of myself and my experience, at the time this photo was taken last year, I was still embarrassed about it, and I wound up photoshopping it out of the image. In the modern era, there’s a lot of ways that beauty standards can be achieved and controlled through science and technology, and I’m excited to see these topics explored more in-depth, along with their relation to queerness, within Sculpt Yourself."
- Aimee Hechler
Thank you so much to Aimee for sharing her perspective on this topic, and for delving into some deeper and more difficult experiences that I'm sure a lot of people can relate to.
If you are reading this post, that means that it has JUST BECOME November 2, meaning that Sculpt Yourself is now available! I'll be posting much more about it once I've gotten some sleep, but in the meantime, if you want to check it out on Amazon, you can see it here in paperback and here in ebook!
Happy Thursday night/Friday morning, depending on your time zone!