My Bodies

How masculinity concealed my eating disorder

Alex McElroy
Gay Mag
Published in
24 min readNov 6, 2019

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Illustration by Carmen Johns

I: The Fat Boy Body

TThe fat boy lives in the echo of laugh tracks. The fat boy, frequently freckled, speaks with the most idiotic of voices. He eats too much to be smart. His stomach jiggles. The red mark of a hand fades on his skin. The fat boy falls on his face. He sits in a chair and then splat: the chair collapses beneath him! Unless, of course, he gets stuck in the chair — equally funny — and when he stands the chair suctions onto his ass. The fat boy farts. The fat boy says, “Me hungry,” in a deep, garbagy voice. Or asks, “You gonna finish that pie?” Or his voice diminishes in the distance, “Hey guys, wait up for . . . ”

The benefit of a fat boy body is that only a fat boy personality is expected of it. The fat boy shouldn’t try to become someone unique. It must imitate what it sees on TV: that kid from The Mighty Ducks, that kid from The Sandlot, that kid from Billy Madison, that kid from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, those kids from Heavyweights, and always that kid from The Goonies. Imitation promises purpose.

From an early age, The Fat Boy Body showed its stomach on command. The summer after sixth grade, for instance, at the town fireworks show, it walked around shirtless with a performer’s swagger, pumping its arms, attracting classmates who beheld…

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Alex McElroy
Gay Mag

Author of THE ATMOSPHERIANS, a NY Times Editors’ Choice | Writing in The Cut, GQ, The Guardian, The Atlantic, Esquire, & at alexmcelroy.org. | they/them