The author, in front, modelling Do you actually care anymore? Don’t fucking read this, you’re probably one of those perfect people. I apologise for the headline, you’re probably thin. Thin and fabulous. I’m gonna come clean, and am not thin and fabulou …

James Martin LGBT
The author, in front, modelling

The author, in front, modelling

Do you actually care anymore?

Don’t fucking read this, you’re probably one of those perfect people.

I apologise for the headline, you’re probably thin. Thin and fabulous. I’m gonna come clean, and am not thin and fabulous – I do like cucumbers. Yeah, that wet your lettuce huh?

From the age of 17 I had an eating problem, I still do. From the ages of 17 and 22, I didn’t eat. My Mum and Grandma asked me regularly if I was eating, I shrugged it off. The truth was that I wasn’t eating, I used to plan two weeks without eating, like they would care, that way I could be like everyone else. Thin is beautiful, buy clothes that would fit children (no VAT). I was told this. As a former prop forward, I had a few problems with society’s plans for me.

Being thin is the aspiration that all gays want, right? Fat is ewww. That thin person, the model boyfriend, who wants to go out with a fat man with ‘tits’, personality is ‘so trade union.’ I was never thin at school, or from birth. Then at age 16, for some reason you had to ‘come out’ (if you want true equality, ‘coming out’ shouldn’t be necessary). I did so, cumbersomely, by email, to my Mums workplace. Whoops! That said, Internet porn was in its infancy, images loaded up by line on a modem. Their image was always a chiselled man, nice pecks and nice package. I was 6 foot 4 by 15, I was drinking too. I had to look like that porn model. Thin was fabulous, I’m told it still is.

For me the solution was simple, my dad had always told me that I had to lose weight when I was little, throwing plates at me when I snuck a sandwich in to my room. Abuse (and that’s not all) sticks with you for life. I don’t want to dwell on my childhood, so let me move on. From 17 it was my goal to have a 6 pack. I joined gym, all was good. So, advance a few years and there I was, 19 years old, my other half had been killed in a car accident. It’s a lot to take in when you are 19. Conversely at the time I was hair modelling, I had been since 16. Sitting still in front of judges and photographers and never showing emotion (you didn’t want to give anything away).

19 was a barren year for me. I did what I was told; I had quit my job at Tesco, joined RBS, found a new boyfriend, he fully endorsed my route to ‘beauty’. The problem was, I was born in to a Cumbrian family, you know, ‘big boned’. Big boned – what chance would I ever have being the thin Hollyoaks starring model that was to the left of me?

The gym was my way out. Once a day, then twice, I lost 4 stone in 2 months, my ribs were the six pack I dreamed of. My obsession with the scales was immediate, my hatred of chips and oil immediate, yet my hair modelling shoot in Milan – a dead cert. Beautiful people, I thought, didn’t eat. Drugs helped keep my now svelte look. I won several NHF certificates.

Of course, I’m writing this now, provoked by the death of someone that I politically detested.

Today Joan Rivers died, the attack on her political views from our movement has been beyond apparent. I despised her political views. I’m sure she would hate my trade union activism. Yet her acerbic tongue reminded me of a few in the union movement I’ve met.

Let me share this, let’s move on a few years. I have a severe medical problem with my nose. When you’re a 20 year old gay man who tells his family that you are going to the doctor because of issues with your nose, as an excuse, when the reality is that you are feeling faint because you haven’t eaten for a week, the last thing you need from you GP is a reminder that your BMI is too high. I stopped eating. I’m 6 foot 4. I have been since I was 20. At the age of 20 I weighed 14 stone. Up until my Grandma’s passing, she would ask if I was eating. I always said yes.

The truth was far from it. I was depressed; I still didn’t quite ‘fit in’. ‘Look at the chubby over there’, I heard on nights out, I started wearing coats to cover my body, I was ashamed that despite years of going to the gym, my four pack, no pecks, wasn’t the body I wanted. I have gynecomastia. 15 stone with ‘moobs’. Like every year, my last year of modelling included clothing that covered my chest.

Today Joan Rivers died. As we speak I am listening to The Carpenters, Karen Carpenter’s voice speaks to my soul. Karen passed away having suffered from an eating disorder. Like a great many of our ‘celebrities’ that live with an eating disorder, it is often reported as point of intrigue, not as a reality. I don’t much care for the cult of ‘celebrity’. In fact I hate it.

I fight for equality everyday within the union movement, we have lost too many due to ‘image’. I’m a 27 year old who has to come out twice. I’m not thin and I like the Carpenters (yet my favourite band is Placebo, for clarity!). Today I realised that I too may have an eating disorder. I can’t eat in public and I go out of my way to wear ‘flattering clothes’. The reality is, our movement doesn’t care, we take you as you are.

Whatever your view of Joan Rivers, I will say this. She suffered from an eating disorder and fought for LGBT rights at a time when few did. Too many of our ‘TV personalities’ reflect that porn image I looked at when I was 17. I despise her political views, yet cant find any contemporary icons that have a weight issue.

8 years ago I said to my Mum and Grandma, all was fine. Having your stomach pumped with minerals is not a position anyone should be in. I am proud that my movement, the union movement, doesn’t discriminate. If you have ‘moobs’ or a ‘middle aged spread’, I’m with you. I’m not middle aged yet though. Some friends still insult me, ‘you have tits’, how small minded.

So I say this. When you believe that society (right or wrong) judges you to look a particular way, ignore it immediately. You are in fact a beautiful person, especially your smile, your smile is beautiful. It took a compliment from a union member today as inspiration for writing this.

Be proud, it makes you who you are. I’m just sorry it took 27 years for me to say this.

Thanks for reading this far.

I’m fat, but I’m thin inside… there’s a thin man inside every fat man.” – George Orwell

Inside and out – I’m a person, it’s on my outside that you feel a need to decorate me, to turn me into your vision of beauty” – Jay Martin


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.
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James Martin

Socialist. @UnitetheUNION National Tutor. Historian, Psephologist and Astrophysicist. Regular contributor to @USiLive.

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