Ben Leander Willgruber | Visual Designer and Writer

I feel pretty if you don‘t tell me otherwise

One lifetime ago, I had a six-pack. I had just bought a new exercising game when I shaped up. I felt so proud when people noticed. But as I didn’t keep on working out, it didn’t last. I gained some weight and more over time. Then, I started taking anti-depressants and gained over 15 kg (33 lbs). My body confidence dropped to an all-time low.

Emotionally, however, I was getting comfortable being myself.
I was out as being gay, I was in my first real relationship. We were open about it and I never wanted to hide again. While I don’t think that you can ‘see’ that someone is gay, I will admit that having pink hair and wearing a leather harness semi-publicly will probably give others some clue. But I’m not ashamed anymore. Anything you say can never again hurt me like it once did. If you think, I’m wrong, I know, you are.


My body confidence didn’t match my emotional confidence.
So, I was somewhat happy with myself. And I was in a long relationship, so honestly, it probably didn’t matter as much that I gained some weight #sorrynotsorry. But I didn’t feel confident looking a little stockier. I am into gay ‘bears’, but ironically, I don’t think I can pull it off. I always wanted to be fit, like that one time in high school.

Thanks, mum, for telling me I was dressing ‘unsuitable’ for my size.
(I know you only meant to help.) But telling me that I gained weight didn’t. I knew that, even without owning a scale. I thought this was so fucking unfair. I had gained weight because of a medication I took for years which, turns out, I never really needed in the first place.


Recently, I’ve lost some weight, most of what I gained from my anti-depressants and I feel more comfortable in my skin. I’m not where I wanna be just yet, but I’m on my way. And I would be lying if I said that being skinnier doesn’t make me feel better about myself.

But what I start to realize now is that being pretty has nothing to do with the Body Mass Index.
I doubt myself a lot and I often feel awkward around people I don’t know so well. That, of course, reflects back on me. Losing weight is a long process, but I think, so is gaining confidence. And yeah, honestly, physical changes have helped me but that’s only part of the story. Sometimes, I feel undefeatable, other times, one remark can bring me down. I will have to figure that out, still.


This image-based society we live in is so fucked up.
I think that all people are beautiful in their own way. That’s not something I just say, but something I really believe in. There’s no inherently ugly person if he/she has a beautiful character. Of course, the personality of a person is something you don’t see in an Instagram post.

In the end, I believe that you can feel and be pretty no matter how you look. Do you?



Title photo courtesy of ModCloth

9 thoughts on “I feel pretty if you don‘t tell me otherwise

  1. I like the honesty of this post, and yes I agree if your comfortable in yourself you can feel pretty no matter how you look.
    I don’t think changing your body, unless it’s for medical reasons, can truly make you feel prettier or better about yourself you will have the same worries and thoughts no matter what weight you are. Or will channel that unhappiness in other ways, which might even be more damaging. I think the best thing is to try and accept the way you are right now, defeat those demons right now just as you are because how you look truly doesn’t matter, this unhappiness comes other places and is just channel in that way. Try and find the source and you can be happy just as you are 🙂
    Maria x

    1. It’s true. I think that being happy with yourself and feeling OK about who you are will add a lot to feeling pretty which other people will relate to positively. That’s what I came to find out too. It is true, however, that being a little skinnier has helped my confidence and probably how people see me a lot. It is nice to get positive feedback for being more in shape. 🙂
      Thanks for the feedback!

  2. I love this post, Ben! I, too, have gained weight since moving to the beach to become a mermaid and I have to tell you, I don’t feel near as good as I did when I was 19# less than what I am now! I think it’s easy to get in a funk about how we look, but I agree with you that all of us are beautiful in our own way. PS. You’re a dreamboat either way, but I’m glad you’re feeling more confident in yourself. If you could come slap the cake out of my hand for awhile, I might join you in the weight-loss arena!

    1. That sounds lovely though, if you can be a mermaid why worry about weight? We all worry way too much anyways, but what are we gonna do about it?
      I guess I’m on my way too being more confident… but, it’s a process.

  3. A very sincere and honest post, my friend. I appreciate your being candid about subjects that may or may not be internally painful. All of us, every human, have some moments when we are more vulnerable to a remark that would otherwise go un-noticed. This is an ideal post for Pride Month. Thank you. Naked hugs!

    1. You are absolutely right. There are moments you’re just more vulnerable than at other times. A friend reminded me today that shit always hits the fence and it’s not going to get easier as you grow up. Guess you just have to know what to deal with and what to ignore.
      I didn’t even think of pride months, but you’re absolutely right 🙂 xoxo

  4. Looking good! Congrats on your internal and external accomplishments. But let’s not fool ourselves about that suggestively open fly. 😙😙😙

    1. Thanks very much for the feedback! But I honestly promise, when I took these pics, I would have never thought of putting them in my blog until this idea formed. Also, the zipper of this pants is actually broken and doesn’t close anymore so I always have to wear it with long shirts haha

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