We lay facing each other on her mattress on the floor, and with her thin white fingers she reaches forward and caresses my forehead, pushing imaginary hair out of my face. The pale light of the lamp is sheathed in a purple shawl, and the morning air is cold. The room is bare except for a student’s desk, a small palm next to the door, and an old wooden standing mirror, bent to show me the cracked yellow ceiling. Next to her mattress there’s a deck of tarot and a bottle of water.
I lean forward and press my lips to hers. Those big almond eyes won me over the moment I met her, less than eight hours ago. She rolls over and we spoon under her thick doona, warm, safe and content as vagabonds around a fire drum. I kiss the back of her neck under her ear. She tells me to do it again. I pull her body close to mine and I’m at peace. I can be myself under these covers, naked and without any masks.
It takes a special kind of person to make me feel comfortable in my skin.
Apparently leadership, self-confidence and humor are the most attractive traits in a male. This is fine when courting, but when it comes time to disrobe, that’s when my anxiety arises. I’m thirty-two, and this is the worst state my body has been in. My chest is hairy, as are my shoulders and I require regular back waxing. Although by no means obese I would consider my belly an eyesore.
Body image doesn’t just affect females. Everywhere I turn there are images of guys with waxed chests, bulging muscles, 2% body fat and cliché sleeve tattoos. Logically, I know my value doesn’t come from a “perfect” physique, but self-loathing is never logical. Worse still, as a male I feel I don’t have the right to freely express my discontent at my body. Worrying about your body isn’t a masculine trait.
I like to think of myself as an evolved human being, and I have enough reference points with meeting women to dissolve all my body image insecurities, however, they’re still there and ever prevalent. I often liken my body to a Jackson Pollock painting. Confusing, somewhat unappealing, yet still find myself staring at it from time to time. Furthermore, I’m at a loss as to why some people enjoy embracing it. At the end of the day, at least it’s an original.