Welcome to Week 2 of the Body Image Series hosted by DeFrates Nutrition! The series exists to encourage the telling of stories and experiences related to body image, a relationship that is different for everyone.
[*Trigger Warning: This post references self-harm.*]
Today, I am honored to introduce Kage Leeb. Welcome to the Body Image Series, Kage! Thank you for being here. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a twenty four year old transguy from Canada. Almost two years ago, I came out as transgender and began my transition from female to male by taking hormones. The journey so far has been full of many challenges – but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
My gender identity and being apart of the LGBTQ community is a big part of my life, but it isn’t everything. I love writing, filming, and vlogging. All around, I’m just trying to find my place in this world like everyone else.
Define and discuss your thoughts on body image.
To me, body image is how you feel about your body. And those feelings may be good, bad or both. No one can avoid having feelings about how comfortable we feel in our bodies. Society has greatly increased our thoughts on our own body images through media.
I love that you recognize that there are so many different ways to feel about body image, and sometimes those land within a gray area. What do you think about body acceptance and body positivity?
Body acceptance is accepting your body how it is and embracing everything you have been blessed with because that is what makes you great. Body positivity is trying to make others feel comfortable in their own skin as well.
If body positivity was a recipe, what would the ingredients be?
Love, acceptance, respect, understanding, comfort.
What role has body image played in your life?
In high school, before I came out as transgender and was still identifying as female, I struggled with depression and developed unhealthy eating habits. I would either eat a lot or cut back and would lose weight. I had parts about my body that didn’t sit right with me – that I wasn’t comfortable with. I came to understand that if I wanted change to happen, I had to do something. I couldn’t just sit around and wait for it. I know that if I work hard and do things the healthy and safe way than I can achieve any goals I may have.
Now since I have come out and am on hormones, things have changed but yet not too much. Testosterone changes your body in ways you couldn’t have imagined. But the beautiful thing about transitioning is that everyone transitions differently. We experience new changes at different times and not everyone goes through the same change either. I still have days where I look in the mirror and get upset because I haven’t had top surgery yet and still have noticeable hips but then I notice the changes and things I love about my body.
There are still certain things about my body that I wish would change. Since I was born in a female body, I have to work towards the things that cisgender males have been blessed with. And that’s okay with me.
That is a lot to go through! Thank you for your bravery in sharing that with us. If you could write a note to your younger self, what would it say?
Dear past me,
I know things are tough right now. I know you have no idea what is going on in your mind and why you feel the way you do. I know that things are complicated and nothing makes sense.
I am here to tell you that it does get better. As cliché as that sounds, it really does. But you have to hold on to see it. Things won’t be easy, this won’t be a smooth ride but my God – it will be worth it. And you deserve to see it.
And you need to fight – fight like hell because I promise one day you will be sitting at home in your own place happy.
Happy because you are living your life in the most authentic way possible. Happy because you have an amazing group of friends.
Happy because your family that you have (yes, the ones you are scared to come out to right now) are beyond supportive. They respect you as a person, they love you and they are supportive of whatever you decide.
Please hold on because you deserve to see the world as it really can be – beautiful. You deserve to wake up happy and go to bed happy. You can do this.
Take all the time that you need but just remember that this is your life – nobody else’s. If you want to cut your hair short, do it. If and when you’re ready to come out, do it. You got this.
You’re not alone. You’re not alone. You’re not alone.
From, future self.
What a beautiful letter with a message that is sure to help so many others. Are there any body parts you have struggled with but now accept and/or love? How did you learn to love these parts of you?
This is kind of different for me because a few of the parts of my body before I transitioned are now things I embrace. My veiny hands and feet used to really make me self-conscious (mainly because you typically don’t see female models or female celebrities with this so we are brought up to believe that this isn’t pretty), but as a male I love it.
Since I have come out, I have a new-found understanding for all bodies. Of all sizes, shapes, races, and genders. The most beautiful thing on anyone is being natural and embracing what makes them, them.
Kage, thank you so much for sharing your experience and perspective with us. Is there anything else you would like to share?
What do you notice most when you look at this picture?
Is it my disconnected and lost face on the left?
Is it the marks on my stomach?
Is it the changes between my body from the left and right?
Because what I notice is how proud and confident I am on the right. How happy I am!
In case of an emergency please dial 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.
The Trevor Project (Crisis Line & a safe, non-judgemental place to talk for LGBTQ community)
1-800-334-HELP – Self Injury Foundation’s 24-hour national crisis line.
1-800-SUICIDE – Hotline for people contemplating suicide.
“Transitioning” via Savor Podcast
Coming up next week: “Recognizing that sometimes your poor body image is triggered by other situations in your life may help you to see that attempting to change your body ultimately will not bring you the happiness and contentment that you are seeking.” -Jennifer Rollin, MSW, LGSW