I’ve struggled with body image all my life, a combination of weight anxiety and dysphoria. The dysphoria is mostly managed these days, the weight anxiety, not so much, particularly as I’ve been gaining weight in a more sedentary life style now that I have an office job and don’t walk everywhere anymore. Resources for men struggling with body image can be hard to come by, I remember vividly a body workshop my university put on that was supposedly geared toward everyone, but heavily advertised for women only. The flyers were covered in silhouettes of a variety body types… but they were all clearly supposed to be women.
This is why resources like “Rainbow Reflections: Body Image Comics for Queer Men” are so important and delightful to find. Through discussions of experiences and tips and advice to help sort through feelings and anxieties, the book is compelling and genuinely helpful.
And it’s not just weight that the book covers either. This is made clear just from the cover, where you see people of various race, ability and weight. The anthology includes both fiction and nonfiction comics that cover a vast array of masculine body types and issues. It really feels like a book that has something for everyone.
Choosing favorite stories to narrow in on was really hard, there are so many wonderful stories, but I’ll talk about the three I felt the most impacted by:
“Masc Man” by Ollie Rollins deals with the pressure on trans men to “look like a masculine man,” even when you may be happiest in more feminine/androgynous clothing, which is something I’ve struggled a lot with over the years. This can often be compounded by working jobs where you’re only safe if you’re stealth or have a specific dress code that doesn’t allow that kind of freedom.
“The Grass is Always Greener” by Corey Morgan is a comic that deals in how we compare ourselves to other people. The first man looks in the mirror and thinks he’s ugly, the second man see’s the first man is taller than him and feels bad about being short, the third man see’s the second man’s muscles and feels bad about being weak. I found this particularly compelling as a trans person, because especially when the desire is to be read as a man, you can often find yourself in a loop of endless comparing your self to cis men.
Lastly, I want to mention “Fitting In” by Loch Arambula which is about the trials of being a short trans man with odd proportions. I felt particularly called out by the panels about trying to get pants. I’ve never met men’s pants that fit me in any comfortable way. If they fit my waist they’re too tight in my hips, if they fit my hips they’re huge around my waist and far too long. (I recommend getting pants at Costco, they have women’s pants that are pretty non-gendered, the pockets might be smaller but they have a better leg/waist ratio I’ve found).
Note: This book does have nudity and sexual themes as there is a section on sexual health.
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1 thought on “Rainbow Reflections: Body Image Comics for Queer Men edited by Phillip Joy, Stephanie Gauvin and Matthew Lee”
That looks really good! Nice review