When I was around 10 years old, I was obsessed with becoming bigger. I distinctly remember weighing myself on the scale we had in our kitchen pantry (why it was there instead of a bathroom I don’t know) and I remember coming in at about 97 pounds. An average weight for a young child who had not yet hit puberty, but to me that was unacceptable. What was probably an early manifestation of my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, I really wanted to be over 100 pounds. I would go back to the fridge, eat a bunch of baby carrots, and recheck my weight, hoping to break triple digits.
Nearly a decade and a half later, I am in the opposite camp: I currently weigh around 340 pounds, and wish to lose a lot of it. I understand that I need to break some habits (eat better, exercise more, be healthier, etc) but it’s only recently that I’ve really put myself to the goal of losing wight and feeling better. To be honest, I spent years in denial and wallowing in depression.
I spent most of college trying to deny that my weight was an issue: any picture I took I disliked: I was stuck in a mode where I did not like myself, but was also was too afraid to change. Even a photo like this one of me walking on the beach, which was taken in Trinidad on a school trip, I hated because I didn’t look like the other people who were taking similar beach photos.
A lot of this had to do with my internalized queerphobia. I wasn’t out yet (and also didn’t fully comprehend my sexuality) so I felt like I had to look like a certain type of man. My body is big by genetics. I can’t fix that, but at the time I wished I looked more androgynous, because I didn’t want to look like a massive hulking person. Even today, people still stop me and ask me if I played football (I did not). I wanted to look nothing like that.
In April 2019, I received an email asking me to be a featured extra role in a music video for the band OneRepublic. I would get paid extra to wear a speedo while lounging in a kiddie pool.
I had a lot of issues: I was worried about scheduling, about whether I would get selected, etc. But mostly I was worried about the fact that I would have to be almost completely naked on camera. Even though I swam competetively for 10 years, I was concerned about how I would look, whether people would call me fat in Youtube Comments.
Eventually, I realized I had to do it. Nicole Byer is a huge influence, and listening to her podcast has helped me to understand that regardless of my body, I can’t let people prevent me from living my best life, from making money, from being in cool projects and cool experiences.
When I got to the set, it went way better than I could have hoped for. There were lots of people in weird scenarios and costumes, so I wasn’t the only person in the music video that was putting themselves out there. The PAs all checked on me and made sure I was comfortable, the crew was fabulous, and the band made sure everyone was having a good time. They had me mug for the camera, and I was excited to show off the music video when it debuted.
So… the bad news. The video debuted and is fabulous. But all the scenes we filmed were cut. I’m still in the video (titled “Rescue Me”), but only for less than a second. See if you can spot me:
Can’t see me? Let me help you:
That’s right: for all my anxiety, for all my concern, I am hidden behind a tree. I had to laugh, because I was anxious, and fearful of what people would say about my appearance. And in the final product, you don’t see me unless you know what to look for.
I still am glad for this experience. I had a fabulous time, I got paid, and it was a great moment to work through my anxiety. This was a step in the journey to let myself accept myself, and to let myself be okay with how I look. Losing weight is still a goal, but I am working towards doing it for the correct reasons, like being healthier.
Also, the song slaps: please enjoy.