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Sam Smith: Non-Binary/Genderqueer & Learning to Love his Body

For British musician Sam Smith, sexuality has always been free and easy to explore. But what about gender. That’s starting to become more fluid as well.

In a meaningful interview with The Good Place and body-positive advocate Jameela Jamil, Smith revealed his identity of non-binary/genderqueer, something he’s only recently begun to explore.

“When I read into gender queer and non-binary I said, “f*** that is me.”

The interview is a part of Jamil’s new series on her empowering Instagram, I Weigh.

What is Non-Binary/Genderqueer?

“Non-binary/genderqueer is that you do not identify in a gender,” said Smith. According to Healthline.com, non-binary is considered an umbrella term that covers anyone who falls on the spectrum in between male and female. Genderqueer, specifically, is more fluid; one day you may feel more masculine, whereas other days you feel more feminine. It’s all on a day-to-day basis.

“You are a mixture of all different things,” Smith told Jameel. “You are your own special creation, that’s how I take it. I’m not male or female. I think I flow somewhere in between. It’s on a spectrum.”

Not everyone who identifies as non-binary and/or genderqueer may use the same pronouns, even if Smith still prefers he/him,. That’s why it’s important to ask. It’s not awkward. The person may even feel grateful that you’re taking the time out to ask.

The Struggle with Body-Image

In the interview, Smith explained the relation between his gender and his struggle with body-image. At eleven years old, Smith had larger amounts of estrogen in his chest, creating breasts – which is more normal than you’d think, added Jameel. Smith decided to have liposuction to remove them at twelve years old. Nevertheless, he still struggles with his body image to this day.

“I have a very feminine body. When I move, when I have sex with men, it’s very feminine. I’ve always resented that.”

A part of this resentment sources from the weight of toxic-masculinity. While Smith retold growing up in the village in Britain, where he was the only gay male. He hadn’t even met another gay male till he moved to London at eighteen. By that point, he felt that he had much catching up to do.

“When it comes to money and success, I feel like a forty-year old,” Smith said. “When it comes to my romantic life, and my personal issues with my body and head, I feel like a confused sixteen-year-old boy.”

And fame certainly hasn’t helped. While Smith expressed his gratitude for his fame, he also expressed his resentment for how it’s changed his life. Because of fame, “part of my life died,” said Smith. “No one treats me the same … because I’m not the same.”

His body dysmorphia heightened in the public name. Smith told Jameel, “I rely on other people to tell me what size I am because I genuinely don’t know.”

Finding Self-Worth

Last year, Smith began therapy and is slowly finding his joy.

“I’ve got a long way to go before I’m happy, still.” He told Jameel that self-love is “a practice.” It’s not something you just obtain and that’s the end of it. It’s something you constantly have to work at.

Little by little, Smith is making progress. On February 12, Smith posted his first shirtless photo on Instagram.

In the caption Smith wrote, “In the past if I have ever done a photo shoot with so much as a t-shirt on, I have starved myself for weeks in advance and then picked and prodded at every picture and then normally taken the picture down.”

“Yesterday I decided to fight the f*** back… I’ll always be at war with this bloody mirror, but this shoot and this day was a step in the right f***ing direction.”

During the interview, Smith pressed the importance of forgiving yourself. He said, “It’s okay to try up, it’s okay to be flawed.”

Jameel added on by saying, “to not look the way people think you have to.”

Being Authentically You

“Maybe I’m not a man. Maybe I’m not a woman. Maybe I’m just me,” says Smith. And that’s enough.

The ultimate goal? Smith says, “I just wanna be myself as much as possible.”

In this touching interview, Sam Smith started conversations that are too often swept to the side. Not only did he bring awareness to nonbinary and gender queer identities, he highlighted the confusion that comes with the self-discovery, and the beauty that comes with their identities.

He showed that men struggle with body-image, too. That pressure to maintain a certain appearance is there, for everyone. For girls, boys and everyone in between. For celebrities and those of us who aren’t famous.

So, be kind to one another. Compliment your friends. Compliment strangers (these can feel so much better). Don’t forget about the men in your life, whether it’s your dad, your brother, your friend, or that guy you always pass by but never speak to. Respect others, their identities, and how they decide to live their lives.

If you’re not sure about someone’s pronouns, ask. It never hurts. Don’t question what they tell you. Just respect it and address him/her/them accordingly.

I’m going to repeat this again because it’s super important: remember that self-love is a practice. Forgive yourself. Be the most authentic version of yourself.

Watch the full interview on I Weigh’s IGTV:

Or watch the captioned interview on Youtube:

For more information on gender or sexuality, visit: https://lgbt.foundation

Lauren Rousseau is a senior editor for Her Campus UFL. She's also a junior journalism major at the University of Florida, and her writing has appeared in Rowdy Magazine, WUFT News and the Independent Florida Alligator. When Lauren's not starring at a phone or laptop screen, she enjoys starring at her screen even more by watching ridiculous reality television. When all else prevails, catch her baking and listening to music.
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