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Weighty Issues: What Losing 180 Pounds Means

March 20, 2013

Sometimes, I read something that I wish I had written. Or that I wish I could have sat down with the writer and discovered from them on my own, through a meaningful discussion. Most of these writings involve good stories, experiences that I have been curious about or yearned to learn more about.

 

This piece “What Losing 180 Pounds Really Does To Your Body–And Your Mind” is one of those, as it finally deals with–in an extremely real and intimate way–the psychology behind weight loss and the myths that accompany it. The author opted to get weight-loss surgery and expected her life to magically turn into a fairy-tale overnight–as fat people are taught that life is only worthwhile and love is only possible when you become skinny–and guess what? It didn’t.

When she goes to have a consultation for weight-loss surgery, the doctor makes a comment about how freeing it will be to be in public without people staring or without causing a scene.

He said that like it was a fact about all fat people. All fat people hate themselves. All fat people know that what’s good in life is really only accessible to thin people. Thin is the most important variable in of life’s equations. Thin equals happy, thin equals beautiful, thin equals a life worth living.

The most embarrassing fact of my life – and oh, how many embarrassing facts there are in my life – is that it was true. I was angry at him for saying it, for buying into the cliché of the fat person. For assuming that my life would transform immediately. Because he was saying all the things I had secretly thought. He was reinforcing all the secret fantasies I had about the way everything about me would be more amenable and lovable and acceptable to the whole rest of the world. To everyone on airplanes and everyone in my life. To myself. When I lost all the weight. When I got weight loss surgery.

I wish I could just copy and paste the entire article, because there are so many important realizations and confessions and knowledge that this woman gained (while losing the weight) about sense of self and body image.

The problem was that I lost all those pounds, but I didn’t have to change a thing about my self. I didn’t have to address any of the emotional or psychological issues. I didn’t have to figure out why I had been depressed – why I was still so, so depressed, despite the fact that the one thing I thought had been ruining my life was suddenly gone.

It doesn’t go away, you see. I thought that my body was wrong when I was obese; I thought my body was wrong when I was thin past the point of health. I thought there was something wrong with my body whatever I looked like, because there’s always just one more thing to fix before I look perfect, feel good in bed with hands on my body, feel sexy in a dress or a bathing suit, feel comfortable in my skin.

There have been endless articles recently on body image (when aren’t there?) in the media and on the internet recently that I’ve been meaning to post about, but I feel like this is a good one to start with. It’s amazing to me that these impossible standards of beauty are still upheld (and I subscribe to them too, I am not immune at all) and that people equate outer beauty with inner happiness. If there were as many articles directed towards women on “how to create a beautiful soul” instead of “how to get perfect calves,” I think our world would be a much different place.

(Image courtesy of WiseGeek)

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One Comment leave one →
  1. sexy curmudgeon permalink
    March 21, 2013 2:37 pm

    Wow, what an incredible piece – it seems like again and again we see these patterns – people feeling bad about their bodies, letting it get to an extreme point, and only then (if they’re lucky) finding some psychological /spiritual help. It seems incredible (and frustrating) that even with so many people getting to this point, so few realize that weight /body issues are largely a psychological issue.

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