BODY IMAGE IN THE GAY COMMUNITY II: What if its lost?

  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Jul 15, 2008 3:10 AM GMT
    I got the idea to talk about this on the basis of the "Body Image" discussion in part one. Thanks to Homonculus for that one.

    So let me ask this question. You are living your life well. Your happy, You have good health, in good sound physical shape and have a great education and job.

    Then it happens:

    You have a disabiling accident or a disfiguration
    Maybe you get a limb cut off. Take a minute and how would you react?

    I would hope you would react as Caslon has (with his cancer treatment) and fight to regain your health.

    My father was 18 years old, working in a meat market of a grocery store and got his right hand caught in the meat grinder.... .it was cut off. He learned how to write again, went to college, graduated and became a corporate attorney, serving as legal director for a major corporation.... it didn't slow him down in the least... He wore a prothesis so I never thought of it as a disability when I was a kid.

    So back to the original question. You have a gift of looks, your body and health....

    How would you handle it ... or could you handle it if you had an injury?

    For me, I'd use my Dad's example and fight like hell!
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    Jul 15, 2008 3:49 AM GMT
    Then Hndsm(and sexy)Kansan, I would say you had an excellent father.
    The person one is internally far outweighs the rest of the "outer package" we walk around in.
    If a person is "ugly" on the inside, it's not going to matter a hill of beans what they look like on the outside..they will just project "ugliness" anyway.

    With regard to the "what if" an accident happened leaving the body mamed or crippled, I would agree with you in that I would strive to work towards being in as good as shape as possible...both inside and out, and find ways to continue to grow and flourish as a person on several levels.
    And that sounds like what your father did, which is an outstanding example to be learned from.
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    Jul 15, 2008 4:06 AM GMT
    Honestly, it would cripple my spirit more than it would cripple my body. I'd like to say I'd work through it, but I know that's easier said than done. I can only gauge my immediate reaction, and say that it'd put me down in the gutter for a while. From where I sit now, I'd say eventually I'd crawl back out.

    But.. when something happens as fucked up as getting your hand caught in a meat grinder.. it can totally change your world view. So I think there's no way I can say for sure, what I'd do.

    You got a badass dad though.
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    Jul 15, 2008 4:13 AM GMT
    my dad was a nationally ranked college tennis champion- then he got stage four aggressive melanoma cancer that spread to his lymphatic system and was told he wouldn't live to see christmas of that year; a 2% chance of survival. he survived, and is still fine, but he had to give up tennis forever, due to the loss of muscle and conditioning that the cancer put him through. he cycles now- wracking up hundreds of miles a week. he's in better aerobic shape than i am, and lance armstrong is his hero for obvious reasons. anyways, i say this because from a young age i'd ask what the scar on his back was, and when i didn't believe it was a shark bite lol, he'd tell me of the cancer and of how, in college, he was told he would die. being a bright, imaginative, empathetic kid, i would lie awake at night sometimes wondering what would go through my head if i were told i would die that young- it would give me goosebumps.

    my dad is not easy to upset- because even on his worst days... he's alive. and i've always been good at learning vicariously through other's experiences, so i think a bit of that rubbed off on me, despite not having personally been through that trauma. the question you raise is a valid one- i think everyone could stand to gain from imagining the hypothetical scenario of being told they will loose everything they take for granted.
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    Jul 15, 2008 4:42 AM GMT
    I think it is common for people "losing" something to feel depressed and a sense of loss. I saw a program about amputees once. Looking at it from another side, I have seen amputees that I would drool over. So I don't think all such "losses" are severe detriments to appearance as we may think.

    Having seen people that have suffered major "disfigurement" like burning etc, that actually keep a positive outlook on life, I think I could get over any personal problem like that, after the initial emotional issues. As long as you have people around you that love you I think you can get over anything. I am sure it would change the way people look at you and the way you deal with life, but we all have our personal obstacles we overcome.
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    Jul 15, 2008 4:43 AM GMT

    BodyImage in the Gay community vs. your highly admirable father perservering over a physical injury? How are these two situations the same considering it is clearly obvious how demanding and judgmental the gay world can be in regards to looks, which includes having all of one's bodyparts?

    I love you to death, but these are two totally different circumstances: your father was straight and I take it married? LOL, what wife cares if you lose a hand as long as you continue to bring in the bacon?

    Body image in the gay community (at it's basic level) has zero to do with intelligence, perserverance over personal tragedy, or "stick-to-it-ness." LOL, it only pertains to looks so why are you talkin about yer old man again?

    You wanna know what gay men who lose their looks go through trying to get a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T in this jungle? Ask a gay man who is overweight, or has adult acne, or really is missing a hand? I'm sure they overcame personally and excelled in school and at their job just like yer pa, but only they could tell you what hell it is to try and compete given the body standard today in the gay world. My fat boyfriend says it was pretty tuff.icon_wink.gif

  • puttputt

    Posts: 254

    Jul 15, 2008 4:49 AM GMT
    Didn't know the hand disfiguration thing was so common. My dad was a refugee from the Vietnam War, hopped on a refugee boat and ended up working in a factory in Hong Kong for awhile. One of the machines sliced off 4 fingers on his left hand, so when I was growing up, he would always keep his left hand in his pocket when we were in public (no prosthetics for him). I kind of unconsciously picked up the same habit.

    Sorry, not really related to the OP.
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    Jul 15, 2008 5:02 AM GMT
    This is a good post for its provoking nature. I have considered this scenario before, and it would be devastating. I often see amputees in the hospital, and think about what a difficult time it would be for me to recover.

    Shamefully, it would rob me of my passions in life and can't say I would be satisfied with finding new alternatives.
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    Jul 15, 2008 5:09 AM GMT
    I'd be devastated and demoralized for a time, and every pizza and carton of Ben & Jerry's in a four-city radius would be in danger.

    But then I'd like to think I'd get over it. I'm stubborn to a fault, and somehow eternally happy-go-lucky and optimistic, and more than a few people around here have noticed I'm a bit pugnacious and don't back down from challenges, even when I really really should...so I'd like to think those characteristics would push me to work through whatever obstacle I came up against.
  • kinetic

    Posts: 1125

    Jul 15, 2008 5:11 AM GMT
    Its really scary to think about but it really can happen to anyone.
    I had to return home to Boston a few weeks back because a very close friend of mine was in a bad car accident.
    My friend is my age. He's a black-belt in taekwondo, excellent at Parkour and has been working in and out of gyms for most of his young life.
    He left SICU about a week ago and is now at a rehab center, but is still not fully awake.
    The scariest part is that they don't know the extent of his injuries until he wakes up.
    Now I've known this guy all my life and I have high hopes for him. He is amazingly strong and agile.
    But I guess he will be dealing with the posed question in the days to come.
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Jul 15, 2008 10:50 AM GMT
    I think I can answer this question but it won't be easy

    9 years ago I was hit by a car while I was biking near my home here in FL
    I was hit from behind and sent airborn and hit the pavement I was in a coma for 3 days
    and sustained what is called a class II Lefort facial skull fracture
    This is a fracture of the cheekbone and the upper jaw
    with displacement.... so I was suddenly changed facially

    Immediately I became severely depressed
    there was talk of months and maybe years of plastic surgery
    of course during this time I never left the house
    except to go to my dentist I had 6 months of dental work that needed to be done also
    I met an OMS... an oral surgeon who told me he had experience in my sort of fracture
    because of the severity of the amount of displacement
    he said he didn't know if he could undo the damage but he'd try
    thankfully it worked
    I have screws and plates there to prove it but basically it's undetectable
    it took months and months of recuperation where I stayed out of the gym
    ...but the body has a great capacity to reclaim what it has lost
    within 6 months I was back to where I was before
    all told it took almost a year out of my life
    The question is what if I wasn't able to have this surgery and had to remain so greatly changed
    I don't know... but I would have become a much different man than I am right now
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    Jul 15, 2008 11:45 AM GMT
    You never really know until you've been there. I guess I'll fight. Biggest inspiration when it comes to this kind of thing:

    Stephen Hawking

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  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16311

    Jul 15, 2008 12:12 PM GMT
    Thanks all for some great input on this thread....

    GQJock.. I had heard you had been injured in an injury.. a great example of the kind of attitude, success and effort!!

    Thanks for sharing that!


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    Jul 15, 2008 12:21 PM GMT
    I feel like I've got all lot of the grit and grr, and but I don't quite honestly think I do.

    Sometimes I wonder if the fighting is worth it.
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    Jul 15, 2008 12:42 PM GMT
    At first I think I would be totally destroyed by a loss of my health or in that case beauty. It makes life a lot easier to look or feel a certain way. Eventually I would whip my whiney ass into shape and start living my life again. I appreciate the more important things in life like my friends and family. I am confident I can climb any hurdle in life!

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    Jul 15, 2008 1:01 PM GMT
    I'd have to say that I'd go through a good stage of denial, then anger, then trying to find a trade off, then depression, then I'd accept it.

    Once I'd have gone through all my options, the only thing I could do is try and make the best of it.
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    Jul 15, 2008 2:04 PM GMT
    If I sustained a disfiguring loss, I hope I would handle it with the same kind of grit your dad had - and pull myself to greater heights, like he did.

    I never had anything as tough as losing a hand or getting hit by a car while riding my bike - but I was once shot through the chest - at 17 - and I was hospitalized for a few weeks, and then had months of therapy - plus mental health therapy - I was so afraid of dark houses, brightly lit rooms and the possibility of another assailant waiting outside in the dark - it took me a few years and professional help to get over being afraid of being shot again by another house burglar.
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    Jul 15, 2008 2:41 PM GMT
    I really don't know how i would react. The way most people would i'd assume... All those stages and what not.

    I will say this... a dear dear friend of mine, who is PERFECT physically... i mean FLAWLESS, recently was in a motorcycle accident. After 7 skin graphts that failed he now no longer has a left bicep, no feeling in his left shoulder, and the road rash was so bad on his knee that they had to remove the kisn from the knee. I recently performed for a benefit for him where he spoke. He has also messaged one of the lead fitness instructors at Lifetime where i work and he works out at and said that if he loses his arm he will be "the strongest one armed memember at Lifetime". Tony, seriously not only has the perfect body EVER, his heart is made of diamonds and platinum... gold is too cheap, and no where near any way to describe him.

    He's even MORE of an inspiration now!
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    Jul 15, 2008 2:42 PM GMT
    Beauty fades and health is fragile. Inner strength is always the key to the person.
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    Jul 15, 2008 2:55 PM GMT
    I was watching a program yesterday about people who had been diagnosed with MS. One woman started a fitness magazine and was diagnosed as the first issue went to press. I played out in my mind what I would do if I were diagnosed with MS and I've known people who have been.

    One of the great things about NY is that I see a huge variety of people with disabilities leading very normal lives. No one looks twice or stares and points. I usually imagine myself in their place and how I would act...and I hope I would be out and proud.

    My Dad has also been an inspiration to me. He used to run marathons until he got cancer. We thought we were going to lose him. He had numerous surgeries and they took a muscle form his back and grafted it to his head. Then a few months later they put in an expander and injected saline solution every two weeks. His head became enormous and he was self-conscious, but he went out and about. There was even a story about him in the paper. They eventually took out the back muscle and then stretched the skin back down and moved up his ear (which had been lowered before). Now, you can't even tell anything happened to him. He can't run anymore because of the back muscle, but he still walks every day and tries to stay in shape.

    It was actually the best thing that ever happened to my parents. They finally started getting along - no more big blowouts. I also finally realized how much I loved my dad and what a great man he was and how he faced his cancer really inspired me and continues to inspire me.

    I truly believe he survived the cancer because he was an athlete. Now I work out because I may have to face something similar and I want to live a healthy long life. I don't work out anymore thinking that it's the only way to get a boyfriend in the gay world. Screw that.
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    Jul 15, 2008 2:57 PM GMT
    Personally, my setback in life was debilitating but not a noticeable disfuration, but I've drawn courage from stories like that of Handsomekansans father and caslons efforts to get his health back. Eight years ago, I was a director of a Gov. office, I had apartments I rented out, another apartment building project, two campground projects underway, and restoring an old house. I had alternating between 5 and 7 people working for me. The younger guys working for me frequently mentioned how I could be in such shape and hard to keep up with at my age of 46. I woke up one day and was shaving, turned my head, and a sharp pain went down my back, it was quickly downhill from there, and within 3 months I had to have surgery because I was losing use of my right arm. now I have steel and screws holding my neck together. I always wondered how a person could take pain, well thankfully with some of these injuries senses are dulled, so you can take more than you think. Well, When this happened I went from handling all my projects to not even being able to mow a lawn or look up to nail something, I'd be walking along and suddenly one of my feet would drag and I'd trip, sciattica and backaches were everyday issues, holding up a magazine or book to read was painfull, or holding a phone to talk, looking up or down, or turning my head was painful, sleep wouldn't come because of nerves vibrating. I was depressed as hell and had to sell a lot of property, and luckily was able to get my dept down to less than the average midsized car costs and still kept 3 places, but then I found I couldn't take care of even them. I remember one day breaking down alone at home and just balling, during this down time I found some determination that -BYGOD-I'm going to finish this home on the mountain that I'd kept and always wanted one damn way or another. I used to be able to put a 4 by 8 sheet of drywall up on the ceiling, and nail it while holding it up, now I have to cut it in half, and can barely manage it without putting up clips to hold one side while I nail, then I have to go rest after doing it, I am 3/4's finished now and when this happened the house was just a shell. The lesson for me was, that it hurt my image in that I lost most of what I'd worked for, I couldn't keep up with my younger friends any longer, I had to accept and adjust that I will not have the body form I had, because my body won't let me. Its not the end of the world, but by adjusting and innovating a person gay or otherwise can do just about anything if your determined, It may take 10 times as much effort and 10 times longer to do what you want but anyone can face what life brings as long as they don't just give up. Some have told me I was crazy for continueing with my home project, but in actuality it was my therapy, and it is actually what helped me to get back a level of health that's tolerable, and restore self worth knowing I am accomplishing my goal. I cannot just sit down and be defeated, I'm so glad I have some stubborn Irish blood !! LOL !! Most everyone who comes up against some debilitating loss of health/mobility can come through victorious if they just don't quit moving forward with something they like doing or want to accomplish. HAVING INTERESTS in living/accomplishing something every day and enjoying the results, I think is key to recovering from anything in life anyone may face. YOU CAN DO IT !!!! (through all this though with me being gay was just a side non-issue) (I hope you all don't mind my rehashing some of this "old story" I thought it might help some I don't know yet that are new to the site, so please excuse any repetiveness on my part)
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    Jul 15, 2008 3:09 PM GMT
    Thanks for sharing your story, realifedad. Wow!!!!
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    Jul 15, 2008 3:20 PM GMT
    realifedad said I used to be able to put a 4 by 8 sheet of drywall up on the ceiling, and nail it while holding it up, now I have to cut it in half, and can barely manage it without putting up clips to hold one side while I nail, then I have to go rest after doing it, I am 3/4's finished now and when this happened the house was just a shell.


    Probably too late for this...

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    Jul 15, 2008 3:22 PM GMT
    ok i have a better story than my first- and by that one, i meant only to say we should all value what we daily take for granted- and that as long as we have our health, its not so bad. that's all i meant :p

    my personal experience with disfigurement: i woke up one morning last year with an alergic reaction around my eye- of course i didn't know it was plant poison- all i knew at the time was that it burned, and that my entire eye was swollen shut. the next day it was worse- i literally couldn't open my eye, it burned more than itched, though it did both pretty badly, and i was in agony- crying made it hurt more. my mom the nurse thought it was periorbital cellulitis- an infection of the tissues behind the eye- which could lead to blindness- so i was taken to the emergency room. i got a cat scan after waiting there for a full night in purgatory (ie, the waiting room), and the results were inconclusive- they didn't know what it was. it def wasn't poison ivy because i'm VERY allergic to that and it'd have been all over my body- besides which, it wasn't seeping. but it was decided it was probably SOME reaction to flora that i'd touched, then rubbed my eye with my hand.


    in any case, i had the face of quasimodo from the Hunchback of Notre Dame for a couple weeks- it just wouldn't go away. i couldn't even open my eye for the first week- it was embarassing and miserable and depressing. and the whole time, i was worried about potential scarring from it. thankfully, it faded away to nothing. but it made me realize how much i take my face for granted, that's for shure.
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    Jul 15, 2008 3:29 PM GMT
    czarodziej said i couldn't even open my eye for the first week- it was embarassing and miserable and depressing. and the whole time, i was worried about potential scarring from it. thankfully, it faded away to nothing. but it made me realize how much i take my face for granted, that's for shure.


    Czardas, sweetie, you're cute and you're smart, so why are you so insecure? You'd be a catch even if you were ugly, because you can think and you have a nice personality. Now it's fortunate that you're handsome, but why is it that this is the only thing that seems to matter to you sometimes?

    You need a hug or six.