The Skinny Scene

I have been skinny my whole life. I always was honest with myself about my weight, though I often felt turned off my own body -- my spindly arms, my ribs showing through my chest, my protruding shoulder blades and hip bones. But it wasn't fairly late in life that I became aware that there is a whole culture of people who are attracted to guys who look like me. I discovered the world of skinny chasers.

I was wandering around in the bar district one night, feeling out of place as usual, and noticed a group of people hanging out near a club. There were a few emaciated guys, and they were getting lots of admiring looks from the other guys who were hanging around. One of the non-skinny guys yelled at me "Hey slim! Come over here!"

For some reason, I crossed the street. I was a little nervous. "Hey," the guy said, "you look like you should check out this club. I know the guy who works the door, and he'll let you in for free as a first-timer."

I decided what the hell. I got my hand stamped and went inside. I was surprised by what I saw. I had never seen so many short, skinny, slight, wimpy, and waify guys in one place. Thought really, they were only about half of the people there. The rest were probably bigger than average. I don't tend to take that much notice of people's body size. But I know I'm definitely not attracted to other skinny guys, so I started to wonder why I was there. I was just about ready to leave.

Just then a non-skinny guy came up to me and put his arm around my shoulder. I felt so tiny next to him. It was the first time anyone had ever hit on me in a bar. He said "can I buy you a drink?" How could I refuse? After I had my drink in hand, he fondled me a while, and when my drink got emptier, he asked if I wanted to dance.

I said sure, and we headed for the dancefloor. The DJ was playing a disco remake of Randy Newman's "Short People," with new lyrics talking about how short people have every reason to live.

I ended up having a great time. My dance partner introduced me to his friends and I started to get to know about the scene. I learned that I was considered a "skinny," and that the people who weren't skinny and were attracted to people like me were called "skinny chasers." The club had this special night for skinnies and their admirers once a month. I started attending regularly.

After a while I learned that the "skinny scene" was not all great. There was a lot of jealousy between the skinnies, who looked at each other as competition. I heard about skinny conventions where lonely skinnies from isolated areas would attend in hopes of finding a lover who could accept their frail body. But a lot of times all that they'd find would be skinny-chasers who only wanted to have a lot of sex without commitment. There were also skinny websites and chatrooms where people would spend huge quantities of their free time in a futile search for love, while the real world passed them by.

It was pretty rare for skinnies to hook up with each other, and some people said that this was because skinnies had poor self-image and didn't want to be reminded of their bodily deficiency. But as someone who is skinny and isn't attracted to other skinny guys, I feel that it's more of an inborn tendancy, and that it's just pretty much how I'm hardwired.

There were some skinnies who decided to try to bulk up and leave the scene behind. But it seemed that somehow even if your body changed, a whole lifetime of being treated like a skinny person would have shaped your personality and you'd never really feel entirely like you fit into any mainstream scene. And you might also risk losing your sense of belonging to the skinny scene.

People complained that the music at the skinny club wasn't as good as the music at mainstream club nights. People complained that there was never any decent entertainment at the skinny conventions. People complained that people in the skinny scene had too much attitude and thrived on drama. People would complain that the scene had split into skinny people who were hairy and those who weren't. But despite all the complaining, nobody ever seemed to do anything to create any alternatives.

Eventually I met a non-skinny guy who was honest and faithful and we got into a long-term relationship. We still had friends that we'd met in the skinny scene, but we tended to not go to the club nights or to conventions and definitely not to the skinny orgies. We'd hear gossip secondhand from our skinny scene friends who still attended the events, but since we'd found each other we didn't really need the scene anymore. Sometimes when I was feeling depressed I'd visit the skinny websites, even though I realized it just depressed me more. I thought about working on creating some sort of cultural activity that could involve people in the skinny scene in a more positive way. I noticed that I didn't tend to see many people from that scene at other cultural events -- maybe they felt like they wouldn't fit it, or maybe it was self-marginalization. After all, if skinny guys attended events that actually interested them, anyone could see that they were skinny, and they might meet people who would share their interests there.

But despite its flaws, I'm glad the skinny scene exists, because despite the times I've been hurt by it, it's also the way that I found happiness in life.


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