Here’s how I learned to love my body

Body positive & LGBTQIA+ activist Stevie Blaine shares his body positivity story, how he looks after himself and why toxic masculinity is not the answer.

I’m Stevie Blaine, otherwise known as bopo boy on Instagram. I’m 26 years old and live in Southampton with my husband and puggle Edna. I’m a body positive & LGBTQIA+ activist hoping to inspire people to be their unapologetic selves, and love every inch of their bodies!

Summer has always been my worst season

…because 30 degree heat and man boobs don’t really mix well! I’ve always felt added pressure during summer to show off more of my body. Everyone is enjoying themselves shirtless on the beach, or on holiday, and all I’ve ever wanted to do is to cover up. I was that kid wearing a t-shirt in the swimming pool. In society, the body norms are defined as slim and muscular, but I was chubby and soft. I always felt the stares of other people judging my body – I felt like I had to hide it.

I stopped living my life

For my teens, and early 20s, I was in a constant battle with my body. From fad diets and exercise routines, to weight loss programmes, I tried them all to try and fit someone else’s idea of beauty. I thought that as soon as I’d lost weight, I’d be happier, have lots of friends and be successful

I started to change my mindset from diet culture

On Instagram, I saw more super ripped, muscular men to inspire me to get back to the gym – but I also found women beaming at me through my phone screen, with stretch marks, cellulite and belly rolls. It changed my entire perspective. I saw women living their lives exactly as they were, embracing every inch of their bodies and loving themselves. I wanted that. So, every morning I would wake up, look in the mirror and wouldn’t let myself leave until I found something that I loved about myself, even if it was minuscule.

Loving my body became second nature

I don’t work against my body. I work with it and listen to what it needs. I’m no longer waiting to live my life, I’m living it.

Male body pressure has increased

Due to TV shows like Geordie Shore and Love Island, only one type of man is seen – the hyper masculine type. It makes everyone else who doesn’t look like this feel like they’re the problem and have to change, but these people are in the minority.

Toxic masculinity is ingrained in our culture

It’s not seen as ‘manly’ for men to discuss their emotions, or their own body insecurities. It’s ridiculous! For me growing up and only seeing the same body type is what made me dislike my body. If there were more diverse campaigns in our magazines, and on our TVs, little chubby gay kids like me wouldn’t feel like we’re the problem!

I find joy in movement

I’m all about self-care. I don’t just mean avocados on toast, or face masks (although I do love both!) I think it’s really important to listen to your body and give it what it needs. For my body, I find joy in movement like swimming or a long walk in the woods.

Remember, you aren’t the problem

Your body, your sexuality and the way you act isn’t the problem – it’s society’s narrow mindedness that’s wrong. Forget about wasting years of your life trying to change who you are. Just start living – eventually you’ll realise that the things you hated, that made you different, are the things that make you beautiful.

Next Steps

  • Through the arts and education Body Gossip, a positive body image charity, aims to empower everyone to fulfil their potential.
  • Beat help people overcome eating disorders through helplines, online support and self-help groups. Call 0808 801 0677 or, if you're under 18, call their Youthline on 0808 801 0711.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

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Updated on 28-Aug-2018