Body Shaming Happened Quite a Lot at This Year’s Bear Week

I’ve written about this before, but I will say it again: body shaming makes you a flat-out d**k. It doesn’t matter what you look like, what part of the community you come from or what your social status is in life, it’s never the right thing to do and it only showcases one’s insecurity to the world.


So, it didn’t come as that much of a surprise to me when I read all about the immense body shaming that took place at Bear Week this year. For those of you who are unaware, Bear Week is a once a year gathering, where thousands of bears and bear-minded individuals descend on Provincetown, Massachusetts for a week of fun in the sun, dancing, drinking, debauchery, comradery and more.  

Bear Week officially ended two weekends ago, where my friends who went said a lot of positive things about the experience for the most part. That quickly changed, however, when several more discussed with me just how much body shaming occurred while there.

It got so bad that the moderator of the official Bear Week Facebook page commented about it after the week was over. He mentioned how the topic was a big issue this season (as in many seasons) and how this is an area that we can be “quite sensitive” in due to the heightened awareness of our minority and the current political climate.

That’s a very sweet way of putting it, but I am not that kind. Here’s my two cents on this whole issue given that I’ve been part of this community for quite some time. It’s the biggest oxymoron in the world for the bear community to shade each other when it comes to weight (or any topic, but this is the focus). We were brought together many moons ago as the outcasts in all of this and prided ourselves on being who we were regardless of what our pant size is.


The problem with that thought process is that it has immensely changed over the years. We are no longer the weird kids at the lunch table… we are the popular ones now. Our terms and puns are used in mainstream media, we are the new kings in the gay porn world (out with the twink and in with the hair for the most part), and people of all sexualities have opened to the idea of dating a dude with size as we slowly become the norm.

Even with all the positives changing around us, it doesn’t give anyone the right to body shame at an event that celebrates us for who we are. Living in and around New York City has helped me develop a tough skin where I can truthfully say these sorts of things and mean it. Years ago, I would’ve went home and cried by myself if I even had any indication that someone was fat shaming me. The older you get, the wiser you are, and the less you give a shit about what people feel or say… for the most part (from my own experience).

There are still a ton of men of all ages who haven’t adopted that thought process yet, and it would suck for them to spend all that money on a vacation like Bear Week to only be trolled and insulted by other men there. Notice how I am not saying this is muscle specific in terms of who is doing the shading. I say that because I’m fully aware that men of all sizes do this, so I refuse to pigeonhole the blame in all of this into one category.

I’ve been to Bear Week twice in the past, and sort of notice a high school vibe that goes on there in terms of cliques and whatnot. I heard that happened again this year (not surprising) but this goes back to a piece of advice that I have said for many, many years: we all need to be a lot friendlier with one another and stop the unnecessary shade.


No, I am not saying that it should be a “kumbaya” type of vibe at every gay bar in the world, but issues like this are what causes men to self-harm in a variety of ways. Mental health is a topic that isn’t tackled the way it should be on a worldwide level still in 2018 and saying someone is fat or giving them the up/down look with a snarky face on can lead to a world of problems for that one person.

So, I’ll say it again… stop being a d**k. Enjoy your own life, stay in your lane, and don’t fat shame someone for who they are. Thanks.

This was created by one of our Contributing Writers and does not reflect the opinion of Instinct Magazine or the other Contributing Writers when it comes to this subject.

15 thoughts on “Body Shaming Happened Quite a Lot at This Year’s Bear Week”

  1. Well, i am actually here at bear week now, and i DO totally confirm that 99% of the gay men here are prejudiced and unaccepting… of me at least.
    I really needed social time with my own kind, but they wont interact with me… and they wont let me interact with them.
    The guys at the resort (crown point) are super snobby, and are clearly uncomfortable whenever i pass by; its plain as day that they flat out dont like me. Im getting the vibe that they look down on me for what i look like (i am what i am) and where i come from (midwest)…
    So, no acceptance from the resort guys… but what about everyone else? Ive gone to all the major dances, and not even one guy would dance with me (dancing on my own just isnt as fun as that old robyn song makes it sound, not for 5 dayz in a row its not)
    Ive put myself out there, moved outside of my confort zone, and have really given it my all to try and be nice and open with these guys, but they just wont accept me no matter what i do or say. All i wanted was to be treated like they treat one another, but instead ive been ‘othered”, and its really lonely… i actually feel as if ive taken a vow of silence due how little ive been spoken or responded to.
    The shop owners, clerks, workers, and event organizers are all good. Im in no way putting any blame on them for my experience; they have tried hard and done their best to make things as inclusive as they can…
    In conclusion, i cant change what my face looks like… (so what if im not a supermodle, neither is anybody else here… ) i just wish these guys could accept me for me, instead of shading me into self-segregation. I prepaid for tonights main dance, so i have to go… (i AM still trying, even in the face of such stunning defeats) The resort guys will snicker at my clothes and make fucked up comments about me when i walk by (like always), so this time ill try to spare myself the shaming (feels a lot like bullying, actually ) by sneaking out the back way. Perhaps scattering a bunch of ‘B Kind’ signs around town would help with the culture of toxicity i find myself emeshed in? Probably not…

  2. Your article has absolutely

    Your article has absolutely NO merit whatsoever considering the fact you were NOT even at the Bear Week in Provincetown event.

    • ssoooooo,,,,,,if somebody

      ssoooooo,,,,,,if somebody tells me about being gay bashed, I can't write about how horrible it is because I wasn't physically there to witness it????  <smh>

      • Nice try.  Your response is

        Nice try.  Your response is not even in the same ballpark. 

        Your entire article is ONLY based on second/third/fourth hand comments made on a travel planning page on Facebook, and not from (fictional) friends that told you all about it.  Don't try to make anyone think otherwise.  When you were called out on this fact, I noticed you opted out and left the group rather than engage members. 

        Stick to writing Britney fluff pieces.


  3. Having lived in NYC for the

    Having lived in NYC for the past 21 years, I've learned many things…

    I don't think this has become worse. It's that we expect this behavior to stop, and it hasn't. 

    You will encounter exponentially more people throughout your day than in other parts of the country.

    You build a wall around yourself because it's not possible to verbally or non-verbally address each one of those people. Sometimes we receive the wrong kind of attention, or don't receive the attention or response that we are seeking. 

    Not all verbal or non-verbal communications that happen are meaningful or well thought-out.

    Because of the sheer volume of people in certain settings, there is a feeling of anonymity… people feel more free to say things that they wouldn't say otherwise. 

    People's comments are often sloppy and loud… and drinking doesn't help. 

    If I gave a second thought to random comments directed toward me, I'd be a neurotic mess. So when a 20 year-old kid says I'm "too old" when he finds out my age, or a guy asks me why I don't have a 6-pack… I'm fine with that. Frankly, it's okay because I'm in a relationship anyway and have never been into twinks, and I like pasta. 

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  5. It’s easy to say don’t let

    It's easy to say don't let other comments affect you, but it's not that simple. If it was it wouldn't be an issue. If you are someone who has been body shamed most of your life and then you go somewhere that you think you will be accepted and you still get body shamed, it can have a bad effect on you! Any amount of body shaming is too much!

  6. I’m fairly new to the whole

    I’m fairly new to the whole gay bear scene!  Didn’t think I would fit in!  This was my first bear week!  I enjoyed myself very much.  I’m a big bear and was only greeted with kind words from the other bears that were there!  In fact it was overwhelming for me my first Tea Dance!  Had guys wanting to take pictures with me!  I don’t see myself as good looking, but as I say that it opened my eyes to what you guys are saying I was body shamed my whole life, but going to my first bear event for the first time I didn’t feel ashamed of the way I looked.  The gay community as a whole needs to stand together regardless of our body shapes! We are always being targeted by people who are not well educated!  So with that said I can’t wait til next year to dance my ass off every day from 4-7!  

  7. Yeah, I always have high

    Yeah, I always have high hopes for these things, usually just ends up being like high school frown

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  9. Yes there was Willb. And if

    Yes there was Willb. And if you chose to ignore it and brush it aside, then you're feeding into it and you are condoning it .

    • Don’t try that crap with me.

      I'm not condoning anything. I am 60 years old and packing some extra pounds and I could care less what anyone else says or does. Comments come from all directions and you can indulge in being a professional victim but  I don't have room in my life for allowing other people to control my emotions. Put more energy into body positivity and changing the victim voice in your head. 

  10. Have you seen the models that

    Have you seen the models that get used for a lot of the bear events ?? A lot of them are "muscle bears" hairy yes but with 6 or 8 pac abs they don't look like the average guy attending the events and I won't even bring up the fact that very few men of color are represented in the ads Bears come in all shapes, ethnicities, and ages so we as gay men need to stop attacking each other and support each other instead

  11. There was not “immense body

    There was not "immense body shaming". Stop trying to make a huge issue where none existed. Furthermore, anyone who lets the shady comments of a stranger in a bar affect them should do some work on their self esteem, not their body.

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  13. I agree that it has become

    I agree that it has become worse as we have become more mainstream. People seem to think mainstream bitchiness and shade throwing is acceptable. Its not. Let’s get back to being frisky friendly attitude free bears. Bear brotherhood not bear bitchiness

  14. Why insult such a beautiful

    Why insult such a beautiful body part by calling these individuals d**ks? I'd call them ursaphobes, major ursaphobes even.


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