I get called that a lot, mostly by other men, and every time it feels weird.
Even though I’m six-feet tall, two-hundred-and-fifty pounds, and have broad shoulders, I don’t think of myself as big. In my mind, I see myself as the same size as everyone else. I forget that, in comparison to other people, I am a big guy.
The nickname never feels like a compliment, but I don’t think it’s an insult either. It seems to be a gut reaction to their perception of me. They are verbalizing how they think of me.
My dad was also a big guy, bigger than I am. He had giant shoulders, powerful forearms, and a barrel chest. When I was in high school, I remember sharing with him that I didn’t like how I looked. I wanted to be skinny and slim, like the high school students I saw on TV. I remember him saying to me, “There will come a time in your life when you are comfortable in your own skin and you stop caring what other people think of you.” At the time, I didn’t understand because I was talking to him about how I felt about me, not about how others felt about me. Now that I’m forty, I get it.
Would I like to be thinner?
Sure. Mostly because I don’t like how I get winded when I play with my boys.
But I don’t feel I’m defined by my size. I don’t think of myself as a “big guy.” This is just how I am.
At the same time, I can imagine a world where I let other people’s perception of me define me. That’s a world I never want to visit because I think it is a sad and dark place.