A beautiful conflict: Gems or doubloons?


I’m in the midst of a crisis: I just realized that one of the singular events that not only helped me survive is also the single experience that inhibits me the most from growing. When a weight that helped build strength becomes a heavy burden, it is time to put it down and rest. That is easier said than done.

When I was about 10 years old I was still tiny. I was the same size all the way from 3rd grade until about 7th. I just didn’t have a growth spurt until 8th grade, which lasted me until about 11th. I didn’t change much from 12th grade through college and after graduation. Only very recently have I been able to gain muscle mass. In other words, I’ve always been small, especially compared to others my age. What is the point of all this, you ask?

My dad was fairly indiscriminate about using corporal punishment. It was random, sudden, violent, and terrifying. Generally he was extreme. After one incident, whereby I was bent forward in front of the jam of a door frame, I was struck so hard from behind that I fell forward and hit the back of my head against the edge of the frame. I was a tad disoriented, but instead of crying I got up and looked my dad in the face and said, “I will never be fat, and I will never have a mustache.” I walked away, his face stunned, feeling very powerful for standing up to him.

200_eoa_297_-_1787_brasher_dubloon_-_reverse_2_.jpgThat act of defiance made me feel better able to deal with bullies throughout the rest of my life. Unfortunately, it also planted a seed that eventually sprouted into full-blown anorexia. It didn’t help that being a trained dancer comes with its additional weight-focused baggage, or that I had to look at myself in mirrors constantly for almost a decade. At any rate, whether I like it about myself or not, I have become, for lack of a better word, addicted to pursuing the almost unattainable standards of conventional beauty: Aspiring to it for myself, chasing after it in others, bowing before it despite the destructive personalities often attached to it…

So then, here it is: Most, if not nearly all, of my relationships have been with “hot” guys who are horrible both to me and for me. I was conversing with a friend last night. (No, I’m not abusing the term – he is a friend.) In the context of the conversation I had to look at a very ugly part of myself: I am willing to overlook all sorts of red flags, simply to have access to physical beauty and be accepted by those who have it. This has caused me no end of grief, my last relationship going so horribly awry that I’ve been single for two years as I try to regain my financial and emotional stability.

What does this say about me? I do not like this part of myself at all. It feeds a destructive cycle, whereby I give myself and others too much or too little value simply because of appearance. Am I not mature enought in mind, generous enough in spirit, and kind enough in heart to recognize how horrible that must make other people (and myself) feel?

I’m finally beginning to achieve my fitness goals, and rather than being content or pleased I feel confused and shallow. On the one hand my friend said to me that he is saddened by this attribute in me, that I focus so much on someone’s looks that I ignore his personality (or lack thereof). He didn’t mean for this to happen, but that only added to my embarrassment and revulsion at my own superficiality. On the other hand, an online acquaintance who is also an adult entertainer told me, “Let your fitness goals assist your spirit. Treat the looks as a happy side effect of nourishing the god in you.” I have to learn this, it’s not something I know how to do.

mirrors.jpgStature has been so important to me. I had none and was the focus of life-threatening bullying. The people who had it seemed omnipotent. They were “beautiful,” god-like. I wanted that trength – it made the world safer, and made the bullies attractive, despite their meanness. My size made me invisible to the gay men who were “beautiful.” I was targeted by straights but invisible to gays. Not a good feeling.

Now I’m neither bullied nor invisible, but I feel no better. To be respected and desired because of the heavy objects I lift, rather than for the thoughts I think or smiles I share, has become a very empty reward. All that work and effort to achieve what exactly?

I put on a thong the first time just to see if I was as repulsive as I thought. In retrospect that was a catch-22: Failure would simply reinforce a negative self-imge, success would feed a destructive self-value system.

How many times have I hurt myself or others, consciously or unconsciously, because of this? How much of a hypocrite am I that I say I don’t like people being judged for how they look when that is exactly what has helped form my entire identity and is the means by which I make money? I do not regret or despise what I do for a living, because I love performing and I know that I do bring people who appreciate me some form of happiness; however, I have to also begin to understand how I can form a healthier relationship with appearances.

diamond.jpgEveryone is precious (including me, dammit!). Everyone is a treasure to somebody. The time has come to collect more diamonds (which are beautifully faceted on the outside, but also luminous and brilliantly scintillating on the inside), rather than so many coins (which may or may not be shiny, but are flat and two-faced – one side of which is always hidden). Or does that analogy in and of itself still anchor me too much to surfaces?

Author: Devon Hunter

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  1. I think many of us have suffered a similar “self-awareness”, possibly (or probably) not as intense a journey, but to some varying degree.
    In the past when I was in a relationship I was a little plagued by the – “that ones hotter” syndrome. That idea that there is some one better/hotter around the corner and/or I can do better…
    And of course passing over some one all together, because they weren’t hot enough — the phrase most of us use “I’m just picky”. You can’t deny that attraction is part of the glue that bonds/attracts, but it’s very elusive and highly fleeting. I’ve dated “hot guys only to find I could do better (personality) and met hot guys I “wanted” but quickly found undesirable for any multitude of reasons.
    It may be age/experience-maturity that wakes us up… Or maybe it is when we are alone-not in a relationship and we go through the evaluating process (why/where I or that relationship went wrong). I learned, about 10 years ago, that I was “chasing after a dream” and in fact was happiest in relationships based on the depth of the other person, not the surface. And now at 46 and single, I truly realize how good I had it and who that was with… I don’t necessarily want that relationship back, but it has given me a new perspective of what to seek.

    I guess that leads to the age old… “Don’t judge a book by its cover”

    Those old adages stand the test of time, no doubt.
    Nice read and kudos to you DH – PERSERVERE

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  2. thank you – that is definitely what i needed… a sympathetic ear. and i’ll keep on keepin’ on… you do the same 🙂

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  3. I have viewed the potential for a relationship as being like an equation with various parameters that add up to “relationship” or “relationship material.” Various people who have the potential to be relationship material may score differently in each parameter and yet still be “relationship material.”

    Now the various parameters in the equation do not all have the same weight. I have found that for a LTR height is a very important parameter. It is hard for a non-short person to qualify as relationship material. A non-short person would have to score really, really high to qualify. But that is just the way I am wired. I have learned to accept it. I am happy to have figured out that parameter the equation, so now I can address it to myself when meeting someone else.

    Perhaps using this “equation” concept with give you a mental tool to work with.

    I would say that “appearance” is your extremely important parameter. And I would tell you to recognize it, accept it, and now work with it. Realize that in your equation you will be giving “appearance” great weight, but you must also attend to the other parameters in your equation. So dont let those other parameters be drowned out by “appearance.” Set “appearance” aside and pay attention to the other parameters before you take action.

    You may say “but I dont have any other parameters in my equation.” I think you do. But they only get thru to you when the relationship is going sour. You need to capture what those parameters are and consciously give them attention BEFORE you commit to someone as “relationship material.”

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  4. Yes, that’s the reason I left the dance world. I think it’s in the job description that dancers must hate themselves, first and foremost! You’re not a great dancer if your leg extensions can’t go above your head, if you can’t do a double tours en l’air, if your body is not the approved (by whom??) aesthetic. I was unhealthy when I danced, mentally and spiritually. I absorb the energies of those I’m around and I felt like a negative ball of shit ready to cut up everyone else because that’s what everyone did. Or maybe I wasn’t strong enough to take it. gross. I said fuck it and never looked back.

    There’s no shame in wanting beauty outside and in. That’s the conclusion I’ve arrived at for myself, anyway. Animals are naturally attracted to beautiful members of their species. Anti-establishment types like you and me just want to be able to rise above that kind of snap judgment, believing that love doesn’t have a face, content in the belief that we haven’t swallowed media’s image of the perfect male …. Love is a many splendored thing, love lifts us up where we belong, all you need is love!!! That’s me. Are we victims of the media’s portrayal of perfect men? Do we have the adonis complex? Maybe. Probably. If I wasn’t, I’d have had that right sexual chemistry with guys I didn’t find physically beautiful to begin with… wouldn’t I? I understand, though, that my need to be attended to by beautiful men had nothing to do with them, but everything to do with what I have lacked, and that is the need to feel beautiful and special in my own right. My love for them wasn’t love at all, but a need that was filled at my own expense. Thank god for clarity in the morning.

    Chemistry, though, goes beyond the physical… something about pheromones or the way our bodies just fit together. It’s that chemistry I’m focusing on to gauge my attraction to men instead of whether or not they have a six pack. I also only throw that word around – beautiful – to describe men who are kind, compassionate, playful, clever, and who just happen to make it move.

    Have a great day, beautiful.

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  5. wow. that was very helpful, caslon. very very helpful. i will definitely take note of your thought on this, not because it takes any pressure off me to grow, but because it allows me to embrace my wiring while asking me to consider upgrades to my internal technology 😉

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  6. Hi Devon,

    Well, I read your blog. Not every article/post yet, but 80% of them going back to January. I skimmed over the “How to be a stripper” and other professional advice posts since, for me, it is information that is interesting though I’d never be able to use it. I’m not a dancer and not qualified to even consider something like this. You have the skill, talent, and looks to do it successfully.
    What I like is your personal observances, your wit, your wisdom and your insight.
    The issue of beauty and attraction is such a horrible double edged sword. I would like to think that I look primarily to the substance of the man as the point of attraction. In fact, it is the substance that holds the attraction but physicality that initiates it. There is nothing wrong with that as I am a living biological entity as well and there are those primal and instinctive feelings that I’ve learned are nothing to be ashamed of. It is in the area of shame and self-worth that we often fail ourselves. I’ve often joked about this issue in that men fall into the categories of:
    1. those whom I’m attracted to but who are not attracted to me.
    2. those who are attracted to me but I’m not attracted to them.
    3. those for whom there’s no attraction on either side.
    4. those whom I’m attracted to, who are attracted to me and they are either 500+ miles away, in a relationship, or those encumbered with some unaddressed, major dysfunction(s).
    There’s so much truth in all of that. Some is based on my own damaged self image, and much is based on the others.
    When I read your blog, I’m impressed, honored to know you within this medium as well as conversations outside of it, and happy to think of you as someone who has complimented me if not flattered outright which is memorable since your opinion is both well considered and intelligent in other areas.
    Now, having complimented you on your incredible body, handsome face, wonderful smile, sense of humor, and knowledgable and intelligent commentary, I feel that there is a quandry in my statement. The order that the order that I place those attributes. They are the order which I would describe you in general terms. The problem is that while the order is in fact (and accurately) ascending, they are, speaking as a gay man, the order that I would ascribe, in a general way, to you. Though no insult is meant in that, I have never sat and had lunch with you. So until that event happens, the superficial aspect of thinking of you in the visual first shall remain. It doesn’t discount your more substantive attributes and great qualities but rather is a product of my own more base self expressing appreciation of you.
    In regards to your latest blog entry, I relate to many of the same issues only with different manifestations. I often find myself attracted to and dating men who are attractive in a physical sense but lack any (or enough) significant qualities that would make them potential long term partners. I often rationalize away those detrimental flaws at my own peril until that very peril is manifested in reality.
    Not to sound to much like Anne Frank, but, I will still continue to be an honest man until I find a good man who see’s that as a good thing for me rather than a point of manipulation.
    So to you, a man who is hot because he’s loaded with all the good things, I say thank you for your insight and shared pain. I hope that one day, my experiences may help you even half as much.

    as always,

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  7. Hi Devon,

    So many of us struggle with body issues…for me it was being skinny. I was always tall, but always felt weak and even small because I was so slim. Ultimately it’s psychological, of course, but perception is reality unless there’s a strong challenge to it. *Real* stature is in the mind, and the thoughtfulness and self-awareness in your posts suggest that you stand head-and-shoulders above most.

    You ask what it says about you that you’re attracted to beautiful men who are bad for you. I think it says you’re human. Everyone is attracted to beauty (their own idea of it, at least). And while I’m not a therapist, it seems to me that most people—consciously or not—look for mates who have personality characteristics that are familiar (i.e., modeled by their parents and their relationship to their parents), even if those characteristics are bad for them. Being drawn to people who are bad for you, and needing their approval, may simply mean that you’re still trying to work through the pain you experienced when you were growing up.

    You might go after guys who are hot because they’re superficially not like your father (especially since you associated your own pursuit of beauty as a way to separate yourself from your father), or because they represent a physical ideal that matches your own aspirations.

    Judging people based on appearances is also human, I think. It’s the actions a person takes based on those judgments that reveal character. But I’m sure you know that.

    I hope I haven’t been presumptuous. You write beautifully, btw.


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  8. First of all congratulation for such a great site. I learned a lot reading article here today. I will make sure i visit this site once a day so i can learn more.

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  9. Hell yeah! “Jimmy’s Landlord” should be a guest blogger! lol

    Devon this is one of my favorite posts of yours.

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  10. Never expected to find such insightful and well-fashioned commentary on a site such as this.

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  11. This was an amazing post Devon! A first time reader of this blog who doesn’t even know much about you will sense that immediately. You have been blessed not only with physical beauty, but an intellectual beauty as well. I admire the courage it takes to share your experience and struggles on this blog. Your insight will be invaluable to anyone who comes across your page. 🙂

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