Based in louisville, kentucky, "hi my name is amos", is a blog and youtube channel about mental health, body image, and managing life. 

body image and defining gender

I talked about this in my last video, and I get to expand here. I really enjoy having both of these mediums to get information out there.

I didn’t get really heavy until 14/15 years old. Up until then, I was involved in dance, cheerleading, and things like that. Eventually, my weight gain (and other circumstances) took me out of that. My weight continued to rise and fall, and then rise and rise as I got older. I hit the 420s (not a weed reference) in my last year of high school. My weight always bothered me in the sense that I wasn’t viewed as talented, or as smart as other people, and because I couldn’t buy clothing very easily. Of course I got bullied, but honestly, everyone got bullied for something. No one was really funny about what they were saying with me or even threatening. Not making the play because I didn’t fit the “style” of any characters, or not being taken seriously in a classroom discussion (I was seriously laughed at by the class and the teacher) hurt more than anything anyone could have said. My classmates lacked a lot of humor and creativity. I didn’t decide to lose weight until I got to college, where I dropped just over 100ish pounds in those 4 years.

Dropping in weight definitely didn’t change my life as much as I thought it would. I thought somehow that my life would be magically different. When I moved back from college, I wanted to get into kickboxing after watching “Million Dollar Baby”, and I joined a Muay Thai program from coach Eric Haycraft. One of the best Muay Thai coaches in the country.

His program had the things that I always look for when I’m looking for a gym to be part of; one: knowledge of the sport, founded in experience. Two: there was a family, a community to be part of. Three: Everyone is equal. Same expectations for everyone that walks into the gym, despite the goal of the individual. Muay Thai is hard to learn, often frustrating and I loved every second. Eric taught me how to jump rope, stood next to me while I cried and failed, but I learned how to jump rope.

When I moved to Nashville, I couldn’t find a Muay Thai gym that really fit like Eric’s did. I went to a few really great alternatives, but I couldn’t let go of my expectations and judgments of what I thought should be, and moved onto something else. I started lifting. I’ve noticed big changes in my body, my health, and all those things that make working hard in the gym worth it. I’m still not where I want to be yet, but I’m well on my way there.

It seems as though that I can’t get to a point where I get to avoid comments on my body. Either I’m still too fat, having to explain extra skin and how slow weight loss is without an eating disorder or surgery is. Or the one that bothers me the most, my femininity gets questioned.

I’ve even had someone recently, who is a member at my gym, who made a comment around our off season meet, that do I want to look like the girls in the crossfit games? I had to explain that there’s genetics, and also a lot of time invested in training to compete that I’m not necessarily wanting to invest. Am I afraid of muscles? No, I welcome them. I want a strong healthy body. When I was kickboxing, people focused on how it was a violent sport and that women shouldn’t do that.

Female body types go through trends. One season, it’s awesome to have a big butt. Then you need to look like Twiggy the next season. Both of those body types are beautiful, and they don’t just need a season. We are all built to be a shape, we carry weight in different areas. And they’re all great. It’s really sad that even as women, we fall into this trap that we have to fit a prescribed number and shape. We don’t. We’ve been fed that by generations of people and it’s damaged us to the point and we consistently need people to tell us that our physical selves I think the best thing for us to do is to start telling each other to embrace who we are, despite our bodies. We are allowed to have our own tastes and preferences, but that doesn’t mean that the opposing is bad, it’s just not your preference.

Please don’t take this as avocation for obesity either. I am not saying someone should be unhealthy, but someone who is overweight isn’t always unhealthy either. I’m basically stating lets back off the judgment and moves towards understanding. I think this goes for men as well. I think that everyone feels pressure to express themselves in a certain way and present in a certain way, because it fits societal norms.

When it comes to gender expression, and defining what makes you more of a man or woman, is starting to cripple us. I know that I’ve used the phrases “man up” or “stop being such a woman”. I have to sit back and look at what stereotypes I’m throwing out there in the mix too.  We can’t adhere so closely to traits being of a certain gender. Being able to lift heavier than a male, doesn’t discount his masculinity. Being able to lift heavier than a woman, doesn’t make me more masculine. All it means is that I lift a certain number. Humans experience emotions, and you’re not more of a man by not expressing them.

I notice this a lot in small ways in my life. For instance, traveling. I wish I got a dollar for every time someone asked me “why don’t you wait for your husband to travel like that?”. Well, a) I’m 33 and that hasn’t happened for me yet. On purpose, for the most part. B) why do I need to wait for a husband? Am I not capable of navigating the world on my own? I would rather have lived a really great life while I can, than be waiting to live because I’m not partnered off. Building my career has been really important for me and I’ve been able to take a lot more risks because I’m the only one accountable for it.

I could go on and on giving examples, but I feel like we all see the path I’m laying out. These are some things that I am trying to sort out as I move towards health and wellness. What are your thoughts?


body image round table-round one