The fat guy and the waistcoat

Body confidence and image issues are most commonly associated with women. But men can suffer from them too.

On Friday night, I attended the Vuelio Blog Awards in London. I was one of the six finalists for Best Dad Blog but I didn’t win. That’s fine. As much as I’d have loved to have won, I had zero expectations of doing so. (Congrats to Dave from The DADventurer, who took the award, and also to my other fellow finalists.)

For me, the awards were incidental. I went because it was a rare chance to see old blogging friends and meet new ones. It was also an opportunity to dust off my dinner jacket; I do enjoy dressing up. Thanks to my recent dieting efforts, I needed to buy smaller trousers for the occasion, to which I added a new waistcoat.

This was a big step for me. With my portly physique, I’ve steered away from waistcoats in the past. They make me look like the Fat Controller from Thomas the Tank Engine. Or, to be more precise, like Oddjob from Goldfinger after he’d given up the evil henchman gig and let himself go a bit a lot. (I don’t own a razor-edged bowler hat, though.)

I’ve always been self-conscious about my body. Not that I’ve ever been grotesquely fat but equally I’ve never been mistaken for a size-zero model either. I was that chubby kid who hated getting undressed for swimming or, worse still, being ‘skins’ in games where teams were identified as either ‘shirts’ or ‘skins’. Mirrors are not my friends (ditto weighing scales). And I’ve always been the first person to make jokes about my weight to pre-empt other people doing it.

It’s not that I hate my body. But I have always had low body confidence. Hence the self-made Fat Controller jokes.

I’m still quite a bit overweight now. But, having lost over a stone, I’m looking better than I have for a long time. Suddenly the prospect of wearing a waistcoat seemed … fine. Actually, even if I do say so myself, I think I looked pretty good. Buying the waistcoat was a nice bit of retail therapy and a pat on the back for my successful dieting.

Of course, it shouldn’t have to take a significant loss of weight to make me feel better about wearing a particular item of clothing. I should be comfortable with my body no matter what. But that’s the reality. I don’t need to be stick-thin to be more body-confident – but I did need to be thinner than I was.

It goes without saying that a story about a fat bloke buying a waistcoat is pretty trivial. My little issues aren’t even close to being on the same level as those faced by the Oddities in The Greatest Showman. But, as with many people who have struggled to fit accepted societal norms, the anthemic This Is Me sums up how I wish I could feel about myself:

I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies

This is me

Now if only I could do something about the pathetic chicken wings that I call arms. Maybe after Christmas …


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