Body Health, celebrity, fashion, LGBTQ, pop culture

THINK TWINK: “welcome to the age of the twink”

T, the New York Times Style Magazine, published a piece yesterday called, “Welcome to the Age of the Twink.” Firstly, I love that title and it makes me think of a Jetson’s-era world of beautiful twinks in Lycra bodysuits and astronaut helmets, jetting around on those little space-cars. Oh! They could go to Hamburger Martian’s for drag queen bingo!

But after I got over thinking about that (a good twenty minutes) and after I realized that T is something I’ve not really gotten around to reading much of (it’s shocking!), I put Troye Sivan’s “Bloom” on repeat, took a hit of poppers and read the article. Just kidding, I didn’t read the article!

The thesis of the piece, the piecis if you will, is this: as women begin to dismantle the “legacy of toxic masculinity,” twinks represent a similar departure from the male shackles. “These twinks, after all, aren’t just enviably lean boys or the latest unrealistic gay fantasy, but a new answer to the problem of what makes a man.”

First, after bingeing several T articles, I’ve noticed that they’re (mercifully, because I can’t handle some long diatribe) short and typically include a final graph that pivots to make some larger, societal point. It’s a cute look, and one that I definitely am guilty of, but I wish that this piece was longer. Give me more, hon!

The piece introduces itself with a scene from Call Me By Your Name, where Oliver (Armie Hammer) steals Elio’s (Timothée Chalamet) drink and gives him a brief, tense massage. The author notes that Oliver’s body – broad, hairy and muscled – is in stark contrast to Elio’s – smooth, lithe. In the negative space, it draws comparison and highlights the youth of Elio as well as the older appeal of Oliver.

The author, Nick Haramis, touches upon the rising popularity of “twink” models in more mainstream culture: Ryan McGinley’s photo-series of slim, sloppily dressed Saint Laurent models; leading men Tye Sheridan (Ready Player One), Lucas Hedges (Lady Bird, Manchester by the Sea), Nick Robinson (Love, Simon); singer Troye Sivan and celebrity-child-savant Jaden Smith. As these men, and their bodies, are being pushed to the forefront of culture and propped up as sexual objects as desire, their twinkiness, and its entrenchments in effeteness and femininity, are similarly propelled.

It’s a little too close to Chris Pratt having to totally reinvent his entire body in order to get a leading role in a movie for me to safely see the rising prevalence of twinkish body types as anything more than a trend or the beginning of a movement.

However, I do agree that prioritizing body types other than the traditional “Leading Man” body – any of the Hollywood Chrises – is a step in the right direction, and the appreciation for androgynous, lithe and sometimes-feminine bodies in men is worthy of attention. But what that made me realize is that, for the most part, twinks still operate within a certain paradigm of toxic masculinity.

Twinks, at least the ones that came to mind when I read the piece as well as the ones who were mentioned in the article itself, are typically portrayed as white or white-passing. The cover photo of “Welcome to the Age of the Twink” includes men of color, but the overarching notion of “twink” is young, cis, white, attractive, slim.

There is the notion that twinks are, inherently, slim. There can be branches:  Haramis discusses “twunks” (he mentions Zac Efron; I counter with Tom Holland), Euro twinks (the BelAmi boys) and femme twinks (Adam Rippon). I would argue that otters – slim, hairy men – exist on the twink spectrum; and who among us has not fallen in love with a tattered-knee skater boy or a stoner, drawn gaunt by the love for their respective crafts?

So twinks can be slim, or muscular, or hairy, but they are never fat. They always adhere to the beauty standard that thinness is ideal. Through the promotion of twinks in mainstream culture, we are saying that we are widening the lens of attractiveness – but not that wide. We will dip outside of our ideals, but just slightly.

An essential part of twinks is the idea of prioritizing youth. I’m not saying there aren’t old twinks, looking at you Charlie Hides, but when you look at that through a critical lens, you realize: if twinks are young, then they are meant to idealize youthful, boyish figures. I wonder if their bodies are prized only because it is implied that they are temporary; no one stays young forever, so the twink body will eventually evolve into something else. You can be feminine, but only because eventually you will become something else.

The point of the piece, in my eyes, was acknowledging and celebrating that different types of bodies are being seen as viable, valuable and attractive. And I loved thinking about twinks and bodies and queerness for an hour, so I’m grateful for the piece. But I love it more for reminding me that we still have a long way to go in terms of body inclusivity. Ugh, I did the T thing of putting my thesis (my piecis!) at the very end!


Alternative titles include, but are not limited to, “Pretty N’ Twink,” “Twink Twice,” “Twinkin’ About You,” “Twinkpiece,” or “Twink or Swim.”
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Body Health, Humor, Rambles

THIGHS THE LIMIT

Because of the way my face is, I could easily play the cruel son of a British business magnate intent on shutting down a small, mom and pop establishment. And while it’s nice to have that as a back-up if this writing thing does not pan out (or if my plan to snag a rich husband backfires on me) it’s not a look that I seek out on a regular basis.

To counteract my inner scion, I try to dress how I feel: sloppy, a little nineties-inspired, and in love with my thighs.

Belying my skinny frame, I have the thighs that four years of constant running built. These are the thighs that propelled me up countless hills, the thighs that kept my body in forward motion even as crippling muscle cramps doubled me over, the thighs that brought me into the fastest mile I ever ran (and that promptly sealed my running peak in junior year). Even if I’ve had to work on other parts of my body, my legs have never disappointed me. They’ve, pardon the phrase, always held me up.

I have an on-and-off relationship with my body (we’re on speaking terms right now, but she’s tough). Regardless of our fraught relationship, we’ve always put our differences aside and come together for the sake of the thing we can both agree on: my thighs.

I’m moving to Los Angeles in a few weeks (quelle surprise!) and so I’ve been slowly formulating my LA style (as well as thinking of LA-centric puns). I’ve decided that my aim is going to be very skate-centric, despite the fact that my only experience skating was gingerly perching on a longboard going at glacial paces. I’m afraid of skateboarding, mostly because I’m so tall that falling is a two-hour event. I put on the latest Star Wars just to have something to watch while it happens.

Because I’ve got such long legs (brag) shorts can be tricky. If I’m not careful, I look like a flamingo, or one of those blow-up toys at used car lots advertising great deals. I try to break them up with tall socks, which fulfills two purposes: it stops the eye from creating one continuous line, and it makes me feel like the hot, alt boys I had crushes on in middle school. Two birds.

After a barrage of Instagram ads, I broke down and bought a pair of 7’’ Chubbies shorts. They are, no exaggeration, so fucking stretchy. By mentioning them (and praising them, to boot) I’ve basically sealed my fate and I will see a Chubbies ad every single day until I die. Hopefully they sponsor the funeral. But seriously, I adore them and wore them to work. They’re flirty. Like, they’re a brown chino color, but they’re not taking things so seriously.

Speaking of which, yesterday at work I spotted a boy wearing a pair of short, loose gym shorts, ratty Vans, calf socks and a striped t-shirt. As a gay guy, whenever there’s a pull towards someone, I have to wonder, “Do I like him or do I want to be him?” His face was alright (5.6/10) but I was so into his outfit that I stared at him, i.e. “be him.” I don’t wear glasses at work (TMI but I sweat and they slip) so me staring is the absolute most obvious thing. I kept maneuvering what I was working on so I could keep him in my (very blurry) eye-line until I had committed his outfit to memory.

I’m sure I’m not alone, but I’m so swayed towards a certain style when I see someone else pull it off. I bought a lilac t-shirt from Topman because the model was gorgeous. It looks amazing on me, but different-amazing. So this guy at work, who was built along the same lines as me, really hooked me to the style. It was like looking into a brunette mirror (but I’m a 7, so).

I’m nervous about moving, so I’ve kinda focused on some of the sillier aspects of it, like my new style. I’m sure that eventually, I’ll get bored and lax and start wearing socks with my Birkenstocks (I’ve done this, and I do not regret it), but so far it’s been fun to troll online shops and scour the internet for my new threads.

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Inspirational, Life, Love & Romance

YOU’RE NEVER REALLY UNLOVABLE AND YOU’RE NEVER REALLY THAT UGLY

Friday, February 26

“Also, I was fat this week, and that really sucks.”

It’s minute 42 on what should have been a thirty-minute meeting with my psychiatrist, where we would ideally—like, idk—talk about my medication and stress levels. Instead, with the blind ambition of Donald Trump, I barreled on through a hefty dissection of what had happened to me in the two weeks since we last met.

I’m a relatively busy person—I write for this old whore of a blog, I contribute to an online publication, I’m an editor for a campus magazine, I work out five times a week, I am taking classes, I have a job, and I try to find time to watch Netflix because god knows I’m still only human. So, all in all, that really does actually take up quite a lot of time to relay.

I’ve been taking meetings this week with a couple of new writers for my section, which requires me to meet them and talk about what we “do” and what I’m “expecting” from them, and I’m not sure if it’s the stress getting to me, or if I’m actually turning to wax, but my mouth kept doing this odd, robotic twitching—almost a lock-jaw—because I was so hyper-aware of how I was talking. So with my weird mouth and my penchant for talking, the roof of my mouth has become that sick mixture of too dry but also too saliva-y after yammering on for 42 minutes.

And at the end of a long diatribe about housing for next year, I decide to tack on the sentence about feeling fat.

An acute dislike for my body—body “issues”—has always been a facet of my personality, long before I realized that it wasn’t normal to hate your body and think that you look like a troll baby. Apparently I’m dumb as rocks, because it also took me 18 years to realize that being super depressed and constantly bottling up one long scream isn’t normal either. But there’s a learning curve. And with my psychiatrist, the ideas of dating and body are always intertwined.

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Source: Imgur

And because I felt fat, I felt undeserving of even thinking about other guys. There was this guy at the gym who is a total LA beach Ken-doll twink (not exactly my type but I’m mesmerized by his bleach-blond tips) and I was like, “Who do you think you are, you Joey Fatone, looking at him?” Which is absolutely the most fucked up thing that I think. Because I’m not nearly as judgmental of other people as I am of myself. And even the guy that I’ve liked the most, even though he was so cute—omg, you guys would dieeee—it was his humor and how smart he was and his ambition that made me interested.

And I went to lunch with a friend after the meeting—well, first, I went to the gym—and I ate a salad. I hate eating salads. I like salads with attitude, with panache—a little smattering of caramelized pecans or a slab of goat cheese or a sick dressing—but dining hall salads only serve to make me feel like I’m gnawing on a piece of Astro-Turf. And so when I was thinking of stuff to cook for dinner, I was kicking myself for not defrosting a chicken. And I thought to myself, “Well you can’t have pasta, you little tubby Howard Taft” and then I got mad at myself and said, “Fuck that,” and I ate pasta.

(Actually, hold on, I’m going to defrost a chicken cutlet right now.)

Literal minutes go by.

(I put it in the refrigerator to defrost; the cutlets were all frozen together so I had to 127 Hours one away from the rest.)

I think that this casual disdain I have for my body is almost as negative as me outright protesting against it. Because this way, this subtle “fuck you” thinking, sinks into my skin and my brain and my way of processing. And I want to get to a place where I can eat pasta and work out and not feel guilty or stressed or vile for having done one and not the other.

And so I’m going to type this out because Lord fucking knows that I don’t believe it. But sometimes writing out positive things helps to balance out the Macarena of Negativity in my head—also that’s totally the next big dance craze. So I’ll say this: you’re never really, really, really that ugly. You’re never unworthy of talking to someone or looking at someone. And you’re 1000x harsher on yourself than you are on anyone else or than anyone else would be on you, aside from if you were a contestant in that beauty pageant in the “Pretty Hurts” music video. But regular life isn’t like that.

Like yourself even when you don’t love yourself. Find one positive thing to say about that old burlap sack of meat you call your body. And maybe start by not calling your body an “old burlap sack of meat.” Call it a “human clothes hanger” or “a moving mannequin” or something funny. Respect your body because it’s how you interact in this world. Acknowledge the fact that millions of years of evolution—yeah, I went there—have coalesced into a four-limbed, fragile, resilient human body with the capability for love and hate and passion and fear and bravery—respect that your body is the product of a billion years of test-drives until you arrived on the scene.

Don’t treat yourself like a test-drive or a crash course. Treat yourself like a Mercedes G-Wagon—beloved, cherished, and competitively stalked by me from the sidewalk.

And, I think, cherish things beyond your body. Because when you acknowledge how amazing you are—inside—it becomes easier to accept your outside. Think of yourself like how I thought of that boy—smart and clever and yeah, maybe his cuteness was an added bonus, but his substance was infinitely more enticing—and treat yourself like a g*ddamn queen.

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Inspirational

OF CLOTHES & MUSCULATURE

I miss being able to wear clothes. And no, I haven’t joined a nudist colony. But I work at a summer camp, where I spend 10 hours a day in a heavy cotton t-shirt and gym shorts. Compression shorts that perk up my butt—an unintended perk (was that a pun?)—but that clamp up my front-junk-in-the-trunk in a spandex cocoon and encase my thighs in a stretch-dream. At the end of the day, I’ve sweated through that shirt ten times over, and it’s covered in Fudgesicles and sunscreen.

When I get home, I either go to the gym and then get into pajamas, or I get into my “in between work and sleep” oversized white tank top that I bought for five dollars at JoAnn Fabrics.

I miss the excitement of putting on an outfit, reworking clothes I already have into a new outfit, creating the kaleidoscopic push-and-pull of switching out this cardigan for that, kicking off shoes and slipping on a pair of TOMs, of feeling like I was this fresh person with each button pushed through the puncture in the fabric.

I miss having occasions. Even when I was getting dressed for class, it was an occasion. It was a chance to run into someone or show someone a part of me. Plus I like to think I have good fashion sense and I fucking live for compliments.

And connected to this is the idea of attractiveness. I don’t feel as cute or sexy lately, and so I pick apart my body more, agonizing over each square inch of musculature footage. It’s like my body is this house and when I can cultivate outfits, I’m reminded of each part in its individual-wholeness and it reminds me that my body is this sinewy, strong piece of work, blood-blushed marble breathing along every artery. And I treat it like it’s strong, like the stretch of muscle underneath is as hand-crafted as the brown-stitched blue denim that’s smoothing over my shoulders and buttoning over my heart.

But when I spend my day going from sweat-streaked staff shirt to sweat-stained workout gear to pajamas, I forget the ritual. I forget why I like getting dressed. And so the things I do to combat the rising anxiety and spiraling about Why does my body look like this and I need to do something now about it and What can I do what can I do like working out and eating salads stop being helpful mortar and pestle and start being hurtful sandpaper and grit.

This post started about in its nascence about bodies, but I find clothes much more fascinating. And not just “trends” and “how-to’s”. I fucking love clothes because I fucking love who we can become with them. I miss the luxury of dressing in all black, because when I dress in black I am simultaneously in mourning and vengeful, strong and languid. Clothes are a way of adapting myself to myself, of trying to verbalize how I’m feeling by being physical. I’ve discovered that I can’t often express myself in “healthy” ways. They eke out of me and mutate, so physically expressing them, through clothes or typing or working out, they make me heard, understood, felt.

Whenever I do…how to say this and remain correct…these emotionally rambling, or emotionally driven, essays, I always feel like ending with paragraphs that say shit like, “Omg guys, sorry for being so crazy. Like I don’t even know where I was going with this, just thought I would write! Lol quirks alerts :ppp.” Like, dude, fuck that.

I always tread this line of wondering how much of my life to share online. Obviously I’ve done the essays about first dates and first porn meanderings, but those are far removed and I change the names of the participants, so it’s relatively distant from the hurling hurricane that is my daily life. I was just really feeling inspired by Amy Winehouse, and I wanted to write and let it flow and it evolved like a Pokémon into this obvious aforementioned essay.

I’m really not as put together as I think I appear to be. And if you’re reading this thinking to yourself, “Dude, you don’t seem put together,” then take the number out of 10 that you think I am put together and subtract about a two. If you came up with a negative number, frankly I’m a little offended that you think so little of me, but if you ended up with anything higher than like an eight, then you’re fucking lying to yourself.

Also, Marco, as I’m writing this I’m texting you. So nice little shout-out to future you from present me. Well, I mean is it present-you and past-me? from whose perspective does the time matter? Time really is fucking relative, you guys.

In conclusion, I want to have the freedom to be a nightmare dressed like a daydream.

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