This is the fourth installment of the Body Diversity Stories from the models who participated in the Social Outreach Seattle Body Diversity Project. Meet Dave Wheeler.
The first thing I notice about my body are the bones. Some days they’re the only thing. My proportions feel like they’ve been the same since I was thirteen. A metabolism that never lets me weigh more than 130 pounds. Maybe that’s my gift, but I’m not always thrilled with what I’ve been given.
Other days I only see pale, pale skin, something I’ve been conditioned to believe is less attractive than the bronzy, muscular physique. My body constantly falling short of an ideal I have no clue how it originated. In fact, my whole life has been a spectacularly awkward attempt to perform traditional masculinity, acceptable maleness, and—until a couple years ago—straightness.
Cisgendered, white male that I am, I don’t have a lot of room to feel sorry for myself. I’m privileged, pound for meager pound, all the same.
Late into high school I discovered David Bowie. More recently, Tilda Swinton. When Richard Wood asked, for this project, about my body, what I liked, what I disliked, how I felt empowered, my mind snapped to those pale, angular, androgynous weirdos. Artists. Creative minds I have fallen in love with. Whose bodies reflect my own.
Being skinny and not especially coordinated, sports were never an interest to me. People have felt permitted to comment on my “chicken legs” and scrawny appearance. Tell me a gust of wind could blow me away. Generally imply my lack of substance, a peculiar insignificance. So, early on, I retreated into my head: studied hard and excelled at school, practiced piano for well over a decade, and wrote, crafting an art all my own, a body of work that is significant, full of substance, bears weight.
Because I recognize that art must bear weight. That is its purpose. To construct critiques, to tell truth, to articulate oppression so that it may be eradicated. Like I said, I know where my privileges lie. I know how my insecurities can cloud my perception of them. But I’m also learning how my head and my body can unite with many others around me in an effort to combat prejudice.