I don't think I really thought much about my body until I was maybe eleven or twelve, except when it was rude enough to demand immediate attention by contracting amoebic dysentery or getting cut with a knife or infested with a bot fly or stubbed of toe; and in those situations it only interested me in the afflicted area - not really as a whole "thing".

In seventh grade, however, when most of my friends were hitting puberty and enjoying the ravages of hormonal onslaught and the rapid accumulation of secondary sex characteristics, I was not and my body therefore became important as a thing. A non-manly thing, to be exact. I know I've mentioned this before, but confession is good for the soul, so I would appreciate your indulgence as I catalog my impression of my body on the eve of my thirtieth birthday.

I was looking in a large bathroom mirror a few days ago and I noticed that my shoulders actually almost seemed sort of broad-ish. Not really broad, mind, but just broader than they were before. The conclusion I reached was that my bone structure has finally firmed up (in this ridiculous fifteen-year puberty I seem destined to endure) to a point where it could probably tolerate a somewhat intensive exercise regimen, if I was willing to invest the time, money and effort necessary to build those elusive muscles. So it's possible that, with a year of hard work, I could have more the sort of body that people call "attractive" and less what I have now, which isn't really repulsive as much as sort of "Blah".

I'm really considering it. Which may be a sign of how corrupted I am by my culture and how years of Hollywood osmosis have taught me that my unsculpted body is somehow less valuable. On the other hand, it may be just an acknowledgment that even though I've kept my baby face and still look to be possibly even in my teens, the wear and tear on my joints and bones is unmistakable and if I want to stay active and healthy from this age on, I'm going to have to make an effort.

I'm not entirely sure it will even work. Healthwise, yeah, but not necessarily in the "making me universally more attractive and manly" department. For one, I have a huge head. Freakishly huge. Most people don't really notice it, but it's almost impossible for me to find a hat or helmet that fits comfortably. Second, there is my weird torso-to-leg ratio, such that most of my height is in my legs. This means that many people I am taller than when standing quickly become taller than me when we sit down. No big deal, really, except on that deep psychological level where I already feel un-manly. Down there in my cringing inner self I still take a battering every time I notice this phenomenon being played out - even though my conscious self is abundantly aware how silly it is to feel this way.

That's the funny thing: I know with my mind that I really don't have a "freakishly" huge head and that my upper-lower body ratio is within the range of normal human biology. I know that while I am slim/slender, thinner by a fair bit than the average male, that I am still not ridiculously skinny and have been blessed with enough coordination and athletic ability that I can perform reasonably well against many men who are bigger and stronger than I. I am even aware that I am and have been actually fairly physically attractive to a number of people.

I have kind of a pretty face and my body must not be too much of a turn-off, because over the years I have had a number of women and men tell me they find me attractive.

So why doesn't this awareness seep down to the level of my deeper self? How come I still feel like a wimp next to a big, strong man? Is it just a matter of too much cultural conditioning, or a by-product of some flaw in my upbringing? I want to just laugh it off and say, "I quit", and it may be that my present personal situations and difficulties are all that are keeping me from doing so, but if it isn't and there is something more, I want to know what it is, so I can avoid passing it on to my son.

I guess I'm telling you all this for two reasons:

One, because every time I talk about something that hurts me deep down in my inner softies, it gets a little less hurtful and I get a little more free. And Two, because I figure that there may be other people who have felt this way, or even people who have met me and thought of me as a confident person, and it seems to me that disillusioning them of this idea about me may just help them to find a little more freedom, too.

Let the healing begin!


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