My Body Image… it’s not positive
WARING, this will be a very long post!
This has not been the most comfortable post for me to write. I have started and started this about ten times over the last few days. It was teased this on Sunday in the “UNB Gets Personal” post. Should I go into detail about the blog and how I started it and then move into my personal struggles and then finish it up? Or should I just go full-on personal and lay it all out there?
I was chatting with jesuistyler in IG DM’s, no he didn’t slide into my DMs! I have a lot of great convos on IG, so feel free to hit me up there! But back on track, he mentioned he was looking forward to the body image post, and I leveled I have had some issues writing this and not getting my voice. He responded with this (and he permitted me to use this):
My opinion, lay it all out! Write from the heart ❤️! Body image is such a mind fuck (pardon my language) that I think almost all men silently struggle with. I can tell you, I am one of those people. Being a fan of underwear only amplifies the feelings because all the adds are of chiseled, perfect men.
Creation of the blog and my mindset.
In 2008, I created UNB. Interesting fact, I wanted to call it Underwear Briefs, a catchy name, but the URL was taken, so I added News in the title, and voila, UNB was born. The world of underwear was a different place 12 years ago. There was no Instagram; Twitter was just a few years old, and when you brought up you loved underwear, you either got a strange look or one of those knowing looks.
I set up the blog to reach all guys, including gay, straight, and bi. I thought that doing it more journalistic was the way to go. I would share opinions and such, but I never really put myself out there like other guys on the site across the years. Those guys are Alex, Andrew, Martin, and more. There have been other guys who have put pics of them up on reviews, which I have always encouraged. I wanted guys to put themselves out there as much as they felt comfortable doing. I, however, never felt comfortable doing that for anything on the site. I considered myself more of the Wizzard behind the curtain.
Going personal will be done in steps. Am I ready to just start posting pics of myself and jumping into the deep end? NO, not at all. Am I going to give up some of the journalistic posts? No, I love covering the industry and will continue to share those new brands I find and interview brands. I think there will be a great mix of both. The start is this post. I will also open the blog to the guys on the podcast and others to guest write and talk about body positivity openly and honestly. And by all means, give me feedback on posts. I don’t get a lot of feedback, so when I inspire you, let me know! It pushes me to make even more fantastic content.
It’s now about the person.
As the years progressed, more and more blogs, and especially Instagram accounts are now about the person. The prime example of that is Andy on the podcast, aka Scruffy Gear. I give him mad props for putting himself out there as he did with his blog and his IG account. He was the brand, and people started to look at him for underwear and advice. I felt like the way I was running things was going the way of the dinosaurs. I needed to energize what I was doing. But, at that time, I was in a job that I hated, and I didn’t realize how much I hated it until I was out of it. It changed me, and I was a miserable person.
Then I met someone I really admire. UndiesCub. Stevie is not a male model; he’s a beefy guy that wears sexy AF undies and posts pics of him on a car, out in public showing his thong and a ton more. And here he is getting all this attention and guys loving what he’s posting. It proves that you don’t need to be a male model to wear sexy undies. The world of undies is changing when a Cub can show off in a thong and not give a fuck!
I have surrounded myself with guys on the podcast, UndiesGeek, JayinCA, Cody from the SpeedoMovement, and more who, in my mind, give no fucks and show off on IG and Twitter. Each of these guys you have seen in swim briefs or thongs. They are all fantastic guys who I respect and am honored to call my friends.
I’m reminded by a lyric from Bette Midler’s “I’m Beautiful”:
“Too black, too white, too short, too tall,
too big, too green, too red, too small.
I said you don’t belong. You don’t belong.”
If you don’t have the abs and pecs, you may seem there is no place for you in the world of underwear and swim briefs. But that’s so not true. I love guys that show their passion. Who cares if you’re too big, too small, not blonde haired or blue eyes. If you are a bear who loves a pink lace thong, wear it and show it off! If you’re a thin guy and love UnderArmour, show it. We need to come together and support our brothers in gear. Underwear has brought me friends (both gay and straight) I would never have met.
My Story….The good, the bad, the beefy
In my 20’s I was a total twink. I called my self a geeky twink. I was 6’4″, 31/32 inch waist, and about 165 pounds. I was rail-thin and never could gain weight. No matter what I did, it never happened. So I could rock the swim briefs and other skimpy gear, and I felt good wearing it and felt sexy. I mean, I would go out in Piedmont Park in the ’90s and layout on “Speedo Hill” and not care. I would welcome the guys checking me out as I dropped my shorts to some skimpy brief. They were always skimpy briefs back then. I would do this all the time, and I would go on vacations and be the only one in a swim brief on the beach and not care.
At the age of 27, the metabolism slowed down, and while I wasn’t gaining massive weight, I “filled out” for a better term. I had a 36-inch waist, and I thought it fit me well. So through the 2000’s I steadily inched up in weight. The 225 that fit me well got left behind. It wasn’t until I saw a pic of me at the 2012 swimwear shoot that I went, “Who is that?” and it was me. I gained a lot of weight, after seeing that pic I was like no more, and got back down to my 225. I felt good and myself again. When I looked in the mirror, I saw myself again, not that stranger who had been looking at me.
Life happens, and I gained much of the weight back. I went from commuting to work every day to work at home. I had some anxiety issues, and I stopped paying attention to what I ate and what I was doing. When you hate the way you look, it affects every part of who you are from self-confidence, outlook on life, and anxiety issues.
2020 is the year of change
Let’s face it 2020 is a clusterfuck. The start of this year should have been foreshadowing for the rest of the year. When in Vegas for Project, I was admitted into the hospital. I mean, is there anywhere else you would not want to be in a hospital than vegas?
Long story short, I could go on and on, and this is a super long post (I warned you, and it will be longer). I was on the flight to Vegas, and I received a high heart rate notification on my Apple Watch. Sitting on a plane and watching a movie, my heart rate was 134. I thought at the time I had a panic attack. We landed, and I got to the hotel and passed out. I wanted that day to be done. The day before I felt off and not myself, I couldn’t explain it, I thought it was 100% anxiety. However, the next morning the heart rate was still 120 resting. I knew that something was not right. I needed to go to the ER, granted I don’t currently have health insurance, but I couldn’t let that stop me (luckily, this was before the start of COVID-19).
At 6:30 AM, I”m in a cab on the way to the ER. I am on the phone with a local vegas friend and my family letting them know. When I get to the ER, I tell them what’s happening, and they check my blood pressure. It was well over 200. And, for the first time in my life, I was escorted into the ER without waiting. They immediately tested me for heart issues and blood clots. All significant tests for heart attacks and stroke come back negative. They keep me overnight for observation. My blood pressure drops over 100 points (I don’t know if it’s pointing or whatever, but for this post, it’s points, you healthcare guys can correct me). I am released but have to get two prescriptions filled. I leave the hospital and go back to my hotel, wanting to lay down and take a nap. Wouldn’t you know that there was a fire in my hotel and I couldn’t go to my room for 4 hours. UGH!
The entire trip to me, I was worn out and lethargic. Usually in Vegas, I’m on the go all day and most of the night. I am at the show right when it opens, and until it closes. Then I go to dinner and a show. This trip, I didn’t get to the show till an hour after it opened and usually left an hour before close. I did exactly what I needed to do and left. Now, I should have changed my flight when I got out of the hospital and gone home, but I wasn’t thinking.
I was told I needed to make changes at the ER and with my local doctor. That I knew and I have done some but not far enough because COVID-19 hit, and we were locked down, and it seemed like a scene out of Outbreak.
The changes I want to make are not to get abs. I have never wanted abs because it takes a lot of work and a rigorous diet. I want to be back down to a 36/38 waist and around 225-235 pounds. My waistline will never be a 31 ever again; I felt I was too thin back then.
As we Circle back…
Ok, now that we have taken a trip around the moon and back. The point of this is to get you to know who I am and what has brought me to this place. BTW, I never met a tangent I didn’t like.
My favorite style of underwear is a bikini. I love the fit, the feel, and the pouch of the bikini. However, when I wear the pairs I love the fit, and look in the mirror I don’t like what I see—a 6’4″ bear in bikinis. No one would ever mistake me for an underwear model.
So you ask, “why don’t you post pics?” I always answer in my head; no one wants to see that; I need to attract readers, not scare them off. Yes, I compare myself to the guys you see in underwear ads.
I have posted a pic on social that most guys didn’t know it was me. I sent Undies Cub a pic of me, I think in my singlet, and he posted as a “mystery guy.” I knew for sure that this post was going to bomb, and guys would ask to have it removed. The feedback he sent made me smile; it was the total opposite of what I expected. He encouraged me to do more, I have yet, the next time it’s done it will be sent out as me.
The Future of Body Positivity with me and UNB.
I still remember one of our very first swimwear shoots, specifically the 2012 shoot. This was the first shoot that I organized, got models, and got shot. I was so proud of this shoot. It was not because it was the best shoot of my life, but it was the first, and it featured more “real guys.” I posted it on the blog and Facebook, and the comment that sticks out to this day is, “Those guys aren’t models. and shouldn’t be modeling underwear.” I was so pissed.
I did not read this guy for posting but responded we wanted to use real models. I had worked weeks on this shoot only to be brought down because these guys didn’t have abs. I thought it was a fun shoot, and I learned a lot. That shows in more of our shoots throughout the years.
Going forward, we want to use more “real” or “average” guys. We have had conversations for years about a real guy shoot. The main issue has been finding guys willing to drop their trousers and get in front of the camera in their undies.
So what can you guys do to support body positivity?
- When guys post pics, don’t post negative comments. It’s the adage that “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” It takes courage to put yourself out on display in just undies.
- When a brand posts non-model pics, let them know you support them. Real guys won’t be on pages unless you show love and support. If a brand posts something and the likes and comments are 1/2 of what they usually get, they won’t post that again. I say blow that post out of the water, share it with everyone, and encourage them to like the post.
- Body Positivity is not about just big guys. It’s about all guys, thin, big, tall, small, and any shape or color. It’s about celebrating his uniqueness.
- Wear what you feel the best wearing. Never let anyone shame you for wearing a bikini, thong or jock. Comments like “you can’t fill out the pouch, your ass isn’t big enough, or a guy like you shouldn’t be wearing that style. I wear my bikinis and love them.
- Support Body positive sites, accounts, and people. – Everyone on the podcast and The Speedo Movement is guys you should follow. I’ve been blown away by TSM. So much so, I went, “Why didn’t I think of that!” TSM is breaking the mold for social and swimwear coverage. The love and positivity in that community is fantastic and will carry that site very far, and it will have longevity in the underwear/swimwear community.
I have to say that one thing that inspired me most is “The Speedo Movement.” What Joe and Cody have created is so amazing. I kind of feel like I’m old school, and they came in with the new school way of doing the same thing. UNB has to change and evolve to survive. When I look back on 2008-2009, it’s so different from now. This feels like the right direction for me and UNB. Every guy I have talked to about this agrees 100%.
One step we have taken toward body positivity is our Fan Friday. We have opened up our IG stories to share pics of guys in their favorite gear. The only restriction is fitting into Instagram Prudish standards. So no overtly large bulges, bare ass, or VPL. We will post those on our blog because we have less prudish rules from our host provider than Instagram. If you want to participate in Fan Friday, email us or DM us a picture. We will then post it on Friday.
I want to do a lot more on the site. Please comment, email, or DM us your comments and suggestions. I want to do a monthly segment where we tackle different issues in underwear/swimwear/gear. To do this, we need more contributors than just me and the podcast guys. We need you guys to participate and give feedback. I am going to do some brainstorming with the guys as well!
If you want to go a step further, contact us and we would love to post your own story or take on body positivity. We always allow guys to guest post and share their journey and self-acceptance. I have noticed that when we post personal posts that are open and honest, we strike a chord in you and share and read more than other content.
WHEW! Ok, this post turned out way longer than I had expected. Once I get writing, It flows out. This post was very cathartic and very hard to put out there. When I hit the schedule button, and when it comes out, I will be thinking, “I don’t think I should have posted that.” or “Why did I post that, no one wants to read it.” But I”m doing it with the support of many of you out there. Thanks for reading this post!!!
Shout outs to Andy-ScruffyGear, Erik-UndiesGeek85, Stevie-UndiesCub, Jayinca, Salvatore, UNB John, Martin, Andrew, Jacob, Alex, Bryce, Cody from the Speedo Movement, and every guy who has worked on UNB for being supportive, and bringing their personal side out on the blog. I will always consider each of these guys part of the UNB Family. I hope we can add to this list in the next twelve years!