“OH MY GOD JUAN! ARE YOU REALLY WEARING THAT?”
“You do you! You’re brave!”
“I wish I had your confidence! Wearing that takes guts.”
Relax everyone, it’s just a shirt bearing my midriff.
My name is Juan Salazar. I am 6’2. My weight usually fluctuates from 240-260 pounds depending on the season. About 90% of the time I feel sexy as hell. The other 10% someone gives me a high-five for my courage and bravery. Who knew wearing unconventional clothes for an obese man would get you a medal of honor these days.
I’ve been known to wear crop tops, fishnet apparel, transparent fabrics, cutouts, even being shirtless in public. See, this wouldn’t be a big deal if I had abs. But since my stomach is soft, since my chest is not muscular, this has raised some eyebrows. I love my body, but to say we have had our ups and downs is an understatement.
I don’t remember a time in my life where I wasn’t overweight. Hell, I remember getting hand-me-downs from my dad not from my brother. During my teenage years, like many of us, I came across a stage of awkwardness. I was trying my best to fit in, I was trying new things with my wardrobe, I was gaining weight, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t feel in control of my body and I ballooned all the way to 313 pounds. Being tall has made slightly immune to fat phobia. It made me realize, than in this world, you have to be either fat or short, you can’t be both. “You’re not that fat! Besides, you’re tall, so it evens out!”- I heard repeatedly during my young adulthood. When I was about 23, riddled by anxiety and self-hatred, I decided to lose weight. At any cost.
I remember I became obsessed with exercise, submitting myself to grueling Insanity classes, followed by the gym, followed by either jogging, or walking. During this time, I was losing weight, but I didn’t think I was losing it fast enough. So, I added a healthy diet to my regimen. Only that diet quickly turned to skipping meals, extreme calorie counting, and starving myself to achieve faster results. I lost about 60 pounds in four months. Then in the following four months, I lost about 40 more. In less than a year, I had lost about 100 pounds prompting everyone to raise their glasses and snap their fingers to me. But then I realized that losing weight didn’t make me love myself more, it made others more open to the idea of loving me.
The next couple of years came full of insecurities but also self-realizations that allowed me to see my body in a different light. In a way, not having to worry about meeting a standard and just working with the body I got, was my salvation. It allowed me to see that I can be sexy, that I can be strong, that I can be desired all while having love-handles.
So, yeah, I am a 250-pound man, and I am wearing that crop top. I’ll wear it because I can, because you can, because anyone can (as long as you have a midriff of course). I am so blessed to finally understand that other people’s insecurities don’t have to be projected on me. So if you see me getting a drink in a crop top don’t come up to me with a “wow! you’re so brave!” but instead hit me with a “WORK BITCH!”