Monday, November 14, 2011

It ain't all skinny jeans and rainbows.....

For the longest time, I was the unofficial spokeswoman for gastric bypass. People would ask, “Are you glad you did it?” and without hesitation I would reply, “Absolutely! Everyday!”. They would ask, “If you could go back, would you still do it?” and I would reply with fervor, “A million times over!”. Over time my hesitation to answer these questions grew. My answers became less enthusiastic, and more questionable.

As you can imagine, the height of my excitement came at a time when my weight loss was almost incredulous in nature. To stand on a scale week after week and watch the pounds literally dissipate was amazing. I was awe struck and blinded by smaller jeans and the reappearance of a waistline I had forgotten existed so many years ago. I overlooked all the missed celebrations, the bouts of “dumping”, the jealousy over those around me who could indulge in sweets or finish a meal, and the fact that my stretch marks were no longer hidden under layers of cheese cake created flubber, because in turn, I was not only wearing skinny jeans, but I was, in fact, actually becoming SKINNY. And trust me when I say that the only time that the words ME and SKINNY went together was when used in a sentence like, “Hey, give ME the SKINNY on the nearest Cheesecake Factory!”.

The truth is, when someone promises to change your life in a way that you had given up hope on, you are willing to take the leap no matter the cost. When someone says this will affect the rest of your life, it doesn’t sink in just how long that will be. But let me tell you, my friend….it’s a mighty long time. When the initial excitement fades, and the weight loss comes to a stand still, and you are the lone wolf at the dessert table, holding an empty plate and drooling over the double chunk, macadamia cookies, I can guarantee you, you are instantly reminded of just how long “the rest of your life” actually is.

Is it worth it? In some respects, yes. Whether or not we want to admit it, we live in a visual and judgemental society where first impressions really are the lasting ones. People look at me differently now, they judge me differently, and they accept me easier than they did the 317 pound me. I blend in better now that I can fit in an airplane seat or a restaurant booth. People don’t give me the stink eye when I walk into a store like Ann Taylor or Express, nor do they worry I might want to try on their clothes. I am no longer the fat girl with a pretty face. I am the average woman. I am just like everyone else. Is that a good thing? Not always. It makes me less memorable. Less apt to speak out because I’m not really standing for anything. But also, it’s a good thing because I don’t stand out. It’s easy. Sometimes too easy.

I find that I not only lost weight, I lost a part of myself. When I was the big girl in my group, I never wondered what my friends thought. I ate what I wanted, wore what I wanted and knew that I was accepted. Now, sometimes I look around and almost feel shame for the way I look. I try not to try too hard. I don’t wear revealing clothes because I don’t want people to think I’m a narcissistic whore just because I lost weight. I try to eat what everyone else eats, because I don’t want to be the annoying girl eating a salad while everyone else chows down on steak and baked potatoes. I try not to make anything about ME. Maybe part of it is because I am always afraid that I will inevitably fail, and I know that if everyone’s eyes are on me ALL THE TIME, it means they will be the first to notice when I gain weight back. So, by not tooting my own horn, they won’t be able to say “I told you so” when I fall flat on my fat ass.

These are only a few of the things that run through my head everyday when I wonder if I made the right choice. And I never thought it would be this way. I thought it would be all protein shakes, skinny jeans and fields of rainbows. What it ends up being is a lot of time avoiding people all together, looking in the mirror, pulling on excess skin, wishing I could trim it off with a pair of scissors, and never feeling like I measure up. And then, an equal amount of time internally beating myself up for feeling/acting like a total asshole when there a millions of people out there who wish their problems were as minute and trivial as mine.

So am I still glad I did it? I don’t know. Would I go back and do it again. I can’t say for sure. All I can do is deal with the fact that it’s done, and I made the choice to do it, and I have to learn to live with it and do everything in my power to be grateful for this opportunity. Because although hidden sometimes, it’s still a blessing.


  1. Once, for a very brief time, I was a banquet cook at a big hotel, so to work everyday I wore a chef jacket and checkered pants, my hair in a ponytail. It was amazing how differently people treated me. One guy, I remembered, looked at me in amazement when I asked him a coherent question in English. He was our Director of F&B. A couple months later, when it was bring your daughter to work day, I brought my two girls and he brought his, as did many others. I happened to be seated at his table. No one was talking. He certainly wasn't taking control of making anyone feel comfortable. So I introduced myself and my girls, and then suggested everyone else do the same. Again, the amazed look. People can be really shallow, Ninja, you are right about that. And I think I get what you are saying. I'm not sure. Did you feel, like me, that you had to speak up to force people to look beyond the visual to who you really are? Another example (thank you so much for indulging me hee hee) I applied at a hotel once way back in the 80's for a housekeeping position (called chambermaid back in the day). I wore a skirt and blouse to apply because that is what my parents taught me to do. I needed the job. I was out on my own for the first time in my life. The manager said, "It's just that you really do not look like someone who would be happy as a chambermaid". I said, "I am somebody who would be happy with a job". And he hired me. And once, when in need of another job, I applied at a fish-processing plant. I called first. They would not hire me based on my voice. I didn't fit. Again, I was just a young kid looking for a job and I wasn't stuck up about it. You do have to make people see you sometimes, skinny or big, well-dressed or not, well-modulated voice or just do. Because most of humanity is shallow. You'll always need to intrigue people into looking behind the veil. So you keep talking, you skinny bitch. I mean it. I loved this. Your best post ever.

  2. You have been through an a huge life changing process, physically and emotionally, but you can celebrate the fact that you have a new healthier life ahead and it doesnt matter what other people think of you fat or thin, as long as the important people you love are supportive, if not they need councelling not you!
    Keep your head high and proud, and if the skin really bothers you get it cut off!

  3. Chicken,
    Thank you for sharing that with me. Moreover, thank you for GETTING IT. Not many people do. It's a shame that we are a society based on stereotypes and initial judgements about people, but rather than rebel against it fruitlessly, I like what you did - you simply proved them wrong and that is beautiful!

    Mrs A,
    Reading your comment reminds me that it's ok to be proud of myself. You can be humble and proud without being narcissictic and self involved. Thank you for that :)