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.