April 4th, 2003 was the last day of my youth.
I was 17. The school day had ended. The courtyard was full of cheery students rushing off to catch their buses or dash home for an evening of Street Fighter Alpha, Lik-a-Stik candies and ring pops. It was a simple time.
Birds chirped. Squirrels played their little games, the rules of which mankind can ne’er dream to discern. The crisp spring air intertwined with the setting sun, launching the evening’s aura into paroxysms of verisimilitude. The world was a happy place. Or so we had been taught. Our teachers, our parents, the posters in our classrooms all agreed: All people should be treated equally. Diversity is to be celebrated. We’re all OK just the way we are. Ah, those days! Such joy! Would that I could plug back in, and return to the simple pleasure of believing in those empty slogans.
Alas I cannot, because on April 4th, 2003, for the first in my life, I stared deep into the eyes of swole hate. Today, I share my story.
I was making my way to the rugby pitch, when I was accosted by a “friend” of mine from class. Her name was Jennifer. She asked me where I was going. “Practice,” I said, sensing something amiss. Jennifer positioned herself in front of my path, forcing me to stop.
“How late does practice go?” She asked, smiling. “Do you want to hang out after?”
“I’m going to the gym after practice to lift weights,” I replied, avoiding her invasive eye contact. I felt uneasy, like an (incredibly swole for his age) antelope in a cage with a lion.
The next words dripped from her mouth like venom: “Ah, working on these I presume?” Her hand darted out like a scorpion’s tail, and she began massaging my upper arm. Rubbing, squeezing. Not stopping.
“Yes,” I said, tears streaming from my eyes on the inside. “I have to go. Coach makes us run hills when we’re late.”
“Okaaay,” she replied with a pouty face, her hand still resting on my arm. “Wouldn’t want the big strong rugby team captain to be late.”
I jogged past her and towards the pitch, away, away, far away from her caliper-like fingers. My calves burned with pain, because yesterday was a leg day. My heart burned as well, but yesterday wasn’t a heart day.
When I arrived at practice, coach pulled me aside.
“Elihu,” he said, “come here for a second. I’m moving you to the back of the line-out. You had the perfect build for a jumper last year – 6’3 and 165lbs – but you’ve swoled up to almost two hundo since then. The other guys aren’t swole enough to lift you.”
My heart sank. Even coach, a man I’d always trusted to see me as a human being, considered me swole first, Elihu second. After practice, I went to the gym with my swole bros. We lifted in the name of the Father, The Son, and The Swoley Spirit. We lifted, and we saw that we had lifted, and it was good. But the words of coach and the unsolicited touches of Jennifer stayed with me. In their own separate, and possibly even well-meaning ways, they had taught me something: I was The Other.
On that day, my eyes were opened. I saw through the veil of systemic weak privilege and institutional anti-swolism in our society.
But I ignored it. I battled anti-swole prejudice for half of a decade after that day. The looks. The unwanted touching. The soft bigotry of high expectations. The never-ending cries of “show us your ___!”
I tried not to let it get to me. I laughed along with friends when they joked about my swoleness. I accepted the aggressive advances of women, because I was swole, and ‘you know how girls are!’ I paid extra to substitute salad for french fries so many times, I wasn’t even sure I was human anymore.
Worst of all, I thought I was the only one. All day, every day, I bore my cross-shaped torso swolone. My undergrad gym was not a swole safe space, and every day I lived in fear of accidentally grunting or clanging a plate, thus earning the glares of the weak privileged among me.
I pushed through the pain period for a long time. But one day, I couldn’t bear it any longer. I had tolerated swole hatred past my failure point, and my soul was doing forced negatives.
In October 2011, I committed Swolicide.
Fed up with my swolitude, I chose to end it all.
I stopped lifting, moved to Thailand, and spent three months training Muay Thai, partying, and traveling around Southeast Asia. Day by day, the grace of the swole left me.
After that, I moved to an Ashram in India and spent two months eating a strictly vegetarian diet, practicing yoga and meditating. I felt the spirit of the Swole leaving me every day.
Then I moved to Basque country, to surf and party for two months in Hossegor and San Sebastien. By that point, the glares had stopped. The groping had stopped. I experienced the joy of knowing that the girls I met liked me for me, not because I looked like a swole Robert Redford. My heart and swoul were barely clinging to life.
Finally, I hammered the final nail into the coffin of my formerly swole self. I hiked across Spain in the August heat. By the time I finished, I was no longer swole in the slightest degree. I was a regular guy. I had my first taste of weak privilege, and it was sweeter than any aspartame and whey protein shake I’d ever had. I flew back to Canada in an airplane seat that fit me. I ate the meal they served me, rather than bringing my own steamed broccoli, chicken breast and almonds. The cute flight attendant served me like I was any other passenger, instead of leering at me with hungry, objectifying eyes.
When I got home, I thought I had it all. I thought I had cured myself of my self-hatred. I thought I could settle down into a normal life, finally.
But then I discovered the Swole Acceptance Community. At first I thought it was funny. But the more I read, the more I realized that as nice as it is to be a beneficiary of Weak Privilege, nothing on Earth is worth sacrificing your swoul for. And so, I made a decision.
I am undergoing Swole Reassignment Surgery. I am Swole. I was born this way. I’ll die this way. And then I’ll be buried in a coffin that has to be let out in the shoulders.
Because we’re not going away.
Because we’re not going to cave to Weak Privilege.
Because we don’t care how much hate we endure from the Weakcriarchy. With Brodin as our witness: We’re here, and we’re Swole, so get used to it.
Further reading for Swolebros and the Swolecurious:
Swole At Every Height: The premier Swole Acceptance Blog in the ‘sphere
Stay strong, brothers. Stay Swole.