Mackenzie Kundakcioglu, barber

"Perfect doesn’t have one look, one way, one size, one gender expectation."


I grew up assigned female at birth in upper-middle-class Etobicoke. In my family, there was a very specific expectation of how women were supposed to look and act. At the time there were expectations about what I should and shouldn’t do with my body, in terms of promiscuity and what I should be wearing.

I also struggled with my weight. My parents were always portion-controlling, but as I went through puberty I couldn’t get rid of the chub. My current weight – 200 pounds – and the way my body looks now is the way I thought it looked when I was 120 pounds in high school. That was the dysmorphia my environment caused.

Day to day, I’m still hyper-aware of what I eat. At the same time, I feel healthier because I know how to catch myself and say, “You ate three meals today. That’s still better than eating two, being hungry and hating yourself.” Reminding myself to eat on a regular schedule is very relaxing. 

Coming out as trans involved a shedding of the expected femininity. When I stopped shaving my legs, there were two days of anxiety, and on the third, I realized nobody cares. That was very freeing. I also had an idea of how I would look post-transition that did not pan out. I’m still heavy-set. The interaction between beer and testosterone meant the beer gut came 30 years earlier than it does for most cis men. I went through a rise, a very deep valley and then plateaued. I’m still getting used to the balance.

I’m fortunate to have better relationship with my mom. I catch her fighting with transphobes in the comments on Toronto Star news articles. I know everything she’s saying is something that my brother or I taught her. It’s mind-blowing how people can still grow even though they were so set in their ways.

I identify as a non-binary trans masculine person who uses they or he pronouns. I also identify a lot with the femininity I used to try to shed.

Perfect doesn’t have one look, one way, one size, one gender expectation. I made a point of wearing heavy makeup in my photos because that genderfuck presentation helped me feel comfortable. I want everyone to be as comfortable challenging social expectations. I’m not the parts of my body that people want to change. I am myself and every part of me that you see is me.

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Samuel Engelking

More Love Your Body 2020:

@nowtoronto

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