If you ask Brandon if he feels he’s beautiful, he’ll say, “From the chin up.” That’s because people seem to rarely resist the urge to complement his hazel-brown eyes and his glowing skin color. But below the neck, he isn’t so confident.

Because people also rarely resist the urge to tell him he should lose weight. After years of the emotional scars, self-doubt, and insecurity, he’s still trying to learn how to “heal and have a better concept of self.” It’s been far from easy, and it shows no signs of getting easier.

Brandon feels like a mismatch of parts: some beautiful, some not. But that’s not where he’ll stay.  He believes, “If you’re really who you are and walking in your own truth, it will make your life–and your environment–more comfortable.” And he’s here to show us how it’s done.

If you asked me if I’m beautiful, I’d say most definitely…from the chin up. People always say how amazing my eyes are. But I don’t think it’s really that deep. But chin-down, I don’t feel that way. When I’m being sexual, I feel uncomfortable because I’m overweight and I deal with a lot of rejection because of it. I sometimes feel like a mismatch of parts, some beautiful some not. I haven’t accepted all of myself. I still feel overweight and disgusting at times. That colors my perspective and makes me very aware of body image. That’s how I define my beauty.

I’m very insecure about my body. I know in the gay community body image is the key to acceptance. I’m a bigger person and that’s not accepted. For example, one time I was on an app minding my own business when a person said, “You’re cute, but you’re really fat.” And I asked, “Do I know you?” He said, “No, but if you lose 30 pounds, you’d be perfect.” To which I responded, “You have a face for radio.” He blocked me afterwards.

He thought it was okay to tell me how he felt about me and my body, even though I’d never asked. But it doesn’t only happen on social media apps. There’s the men in the clubs overlooking you and going to talk to smaller guys. And there are other comments, like “Usually I don’t like big guys…” but even then that attention is often because of my skin or eye color. There are so many layers  and it’s very interesting.

If you’re really who you are and walking in your own truth, it will make your life–and your environment–more comfortable. That’s where I’m working to get.

Yes, I’m trying to lose weight though I struggle, but I’m trying to heal and have a better concept of myself. I assume people are going to say something about my weight so I am focusing on healing from the scars of negativity. It’s an intense process.

It’s different than in the hetero community. In the black community, I see a lot of big women. As long as they are voluptuous, men love them. They really love them. But when you go into the gay community, it’s completely different. I’m not sure if it is influenced by Eurocentric ideals, wanting to feel more powerful because you feel oppressed, or about health, but it’s different.

On social media, you would see guys who are a 5. But from the chin down, they are suddenly a 10. If I take pictures of my body, I won’t get many likes. But if I focus only on my face, I’ll get hundreds of likes. It makes me wonder, “What does it say about us if we’re only relying on looks and likes for our social experience?” As a result, you have a lot of social media models. They don’t have an actual modeling contract, but it grants them with a sense of power.  The take home message here: If you’re not attractive, people don’t really bother with you.

I want to get to a place where I’m 100% comfortable in my skin. I’m not even close to that. I don’t want to worry about if people are talking about me. I just want to be in a place of total comfort and confidence. It takes work, though. When you’re dealing with psychological scarring from decades, that’s not something that just leaves overnight. And I’m still overweight but into guys, which makes it all very exhausting.

The easy remedy is to lose weight, but the emotional and mental part is more complicated. I have to delve into what it means to be complete and worthy of that. I’m leaning in that direction. People  really need to be themselves. It would make life so much better in the long run. It’s hard, but if you’re really who you are and walking in your own truth, it will make your life–and your environment–more comfortable. That’s where I’m working to get.