Why I did this.


Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Yes, it’s been a while. Too long. Work, hospitalizations and the holidays and too much on my plate, and time gets away. Best make amends, no?

On the OH boards, someone was talking about body image issues. How she looks in the mirror at a size 4 and still sees “obese.” What to do about this. I don’t have a good answer — in fact, I have no answers. If I ever get to a size 4, maybe I will. But I started reflecting on body image and why I did this whole surgery thing. I’m coming at it now at five months out and 105-110 lbs. lost.

Am I “fat?” Why, yes. I’m still over 100 lbs. to goal, so I’m still “fat.” But I’m a thinner “fat,” if that makes sense. I am excited to see my size 5x go down to a 2x, size 32 jeans to 22. I don’t see myself as “obese” but I guess I never did — I know it intellectually, but maybe I was good at just not seeing, or not admitting, or (as I like to spin it) making the best of what I had. I now see that I am thinner. I see the numbers on the clothes and the scale going down. I have collarbones now, damnit!

Honestly, and you may be horrified at this, the thing that pushed me over the edge of knowing I had to do something about being morbidly obese was that I read that airlines were going to charge more for “passengers of size” (nice euphemism), and I didn’t want to buy two seats. Call me shallow if you want, but that was my tipping point — everyone has one. Yes, I had sciatica, pre-diabetes, high blood pressure and other comorbidities, but that really sealed it for me. I used to think about fat as a feminist issue, and still do, but I can still advocate for feminism and fat acceptance at a smaller size.

It was that advocacy issue that made WLS not appropriate when I was younger. I wanted to be a fat role model. I wanted to advocate for fat students, fat faculty. I wanted fat people to know that you could be fat and successful. Fat and happy. Fat and beloved. I was all those things. I still am. But I am thinner too. A hundred pounds didn’t change that, for better or worse. It really was what was inside that mattered. Back then, though, the surgeon’s office told me I wasn’t ready for WLS. I wasn’t ready to be thin. Whether or not that’s true, I don’t know. But it took me over 10 years to get surgery. Was I ready last October? Readier, yes. I don’t think one is ever fully ready, because until you’re on the other side, you can’t truly know what it will be like.

I had a hematoma in late October, bled out all over my family room floor. I had three procedures for strictures, the last in early February, the day my grandma died. I threw up daily, for weeks and weeks. I went days on water, yogurt and peanuts. I am still learning to eat correctly, to read labels. I could have done a lot more research. But most days, I am OK where I am. As long as food stays down, I’ll be happy. I won’t always make the right choice, but I’ll be happy.

Now, that said, there are those in my career and life paths who have said hurtful things about my chances of success and happiness while obese. How I will never be successful if I don’t lose weight. I hold those things in my heart. They don’t go away, even though I’ve tried. But every overweight student I encounter — I want to connect with him or her. I want to tell him or her that what’s inside matters more. These students probably will not believe me. But, having come now to this place, where I am no different now inside than I was 100 lbs. ago, I believe it.

284 Responses to “Why I did this.”

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