This is the third installment of the Body Diversity Stories from the models who participated in the Social Outreach Seattle Body Diversity Project. Meet Mark Finley.
What can I say about my body? I’ve had ‘issues’ with it my entire life. For starters it spurted up faster than most: I’ve been 6’2” since sixth grade. After it grew ‘up’ – I grew ‘out’: I wore 38” waist ‘husky’ pants by my sophomore year of high school. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention: I’ve had size 12 feet since I was 10. I wasn’t interested in sports or physical activities as a child on top of all that. To put it plainly – I was a tall gawky pear shaped klutz. So how did I become the graceful beauty you all know and love? My senior year of high school was spent as an exchange student in Japan where I studied kendo, traditional Japanese dancing, and the female roles of Kabuki theatre. Attending college in Los Angeles and New York City – with many friends in the fashion industry – my body insecurities returned. I got overly thin just so I would fit into women’s Calvin Klein jeans!
That changed when I was diagnosed with ‘GRID’ (Gay-Related-Immune-Deficiency) at 22. Thin was no longer ‘in’ if one wanted to give the illusion of being healthy. But instead of joining a gym – I drank to excess until, on her death bed, my mother asked me to stop. So I did. I also left Manhattan and moved to Seattle where I threw myself into theatre and community service. I’ve finally come to terms with my ‘shape’ – such as it is.
Having studied costume design I know how to dress myself – in pants or drag – to appear tall and slender. Though when you reach my age – 29, thank you very much – your body changes yet again. I’m loathed to admit it – but I need a ‘foundation garment’ to give me the figure I desire. And I can no longer wear my high heels night after night without suffering from a slight case of ‘cankles’.
Oh yeah, one last body issue: single vs. partnered gay man syndrome. Most gay men – when single and ‘looking for love’ – look their best and those who are in long-term relationships get a little ‘lumpy’, or ‘comfortable’. I, oddly enough, usually do the complete opposite. When I’m not dating or seeing anyone food becomes my best friend – but when I’ve been lucky enough to land someone I get hyper-critical making sure I’m perfect in their eyes. Silly I know – but it is what it is.
One last little thought I’d like to leave you with: Tim Minchin, in his song “Not Perfect” says, “This is my body, and I live in it. It’s 35 and 2 months old. It’s changed a lot since it was new. It’s done stuff it wasn’t built to do. I often try to fill it up with wine. And the weirdest thing about it is – I spend so much time hating it, but it never says a bad word about me. This is my body, and it’s fine. It’s where I spend a vast majority of my time. It’s not perfect, but it’s mine.”