For those of you who may not know my story, I had an extreme weight loss. My journey began over 11 years ago when I had gastric bypass surgery. Now, I say my weight loss journey began with surgery but it was only the beginning of my journey. I’ve spoken before, how I lost the weight, how I gained it back and how I had to re-lose it. How I currently have to struggle Every. Single. Day. to maintain my current weight. I am not even at my ideal goal weight but what I can say is, I am genuinely happy with my body.
It is hard to describe what it feels like to be in a 400 pound body. If I had to pick one word to describe it, it would be trapped. I recently read a book by a woman who was kidnapped, held prisoner and tortured daily for 11 years. I related to her, somewhat. Being an extremely obese person, I felt like prisoner in my own body. I felt like my life was being wasted. My weight held me back from almost everything. The only part I could rely on was my brain, so I used it to get a Master’s degree. If I could not accomplish anything with my body, at least I could with my brain. This was an escape for awhile but I could never escape from the pain. I felt tortured daily. Not only did the physical pain of carrying around 400 pounds torture me but the emotional one, as well. I was completely ashamed of myself.
Eleven years later and over 170 pounds lighter, you would think the body shaming would have vanished. It did not. You see, even though the weight was falling off and my body was shrinking, the mind takes longer to heal. I became a “fat girl” in a “slimmer” body. I was still that girl that had anxiety to get on a plane because I was afraid the seat belt wouldn’t fit. I was still that girl that would wear dark, baggy clothes to hide my body. My mind was not the only thing that was scarred. Even though the fat had fallen off, the stretch marks and hanging skin were a daily reminder of how big I once was.
Oh, the hanging skin.
With much of the fat now gone, I am left with hanging skin… everywhere. Seriously, if you were to look at me naked, I look like I am melting. The fat has fallen off but the scars are still there.
You would think it was so freeing to lose the weight. It totally was, to an extent. But do you know what my favorite part about losing the weight was? It wasn’t being able to wear cute clothes again or even walking up a flight of stairs without passing out. Nope, not even close. My favorite part about losing the weight was being able to blend in. Oh God, how freeing is it to walk into a room and not have all the eyes stare at you. I think this is one of the reasons it’s so hard to feel beautiful again. Because if I look pretty, someone might look at me. If I look nice, I might even get a compliment. I do not want that attention.
But I am beautiful and I have embraced my beauty.
The turning point for me was last year, my sister in law was selling these body wraps. She would have “wrap parties”, a wrap applicator was placed on individuals body parts to tighten their problem areas. I would assist her in wrapping ladies during these parties. We would take them in a back room, shoot before and after photos and then apply the wraps for 30 minutes. I would wraps large women, skinny women and even women with loose skin like mine. It was there, at one of these parties, when I had an epiphany. What I realized was no matter the shape or size, the majority of women had many flaws themselves and the majority were also self conscious about their bodies. However despite these flaws, they were still beautiful. In spite of these flaws, they were still beautiful. And in spite of mine, I am beautiful.
I am beautiful. I am. I have flaws, many flaws and I am still beautiful.
And so I am embracing my beauty. Day by day. Don’t get me wrong, there are days I hate the attention it may bring. The compliments tend to make me uncomfortable, even cringe at times. But I will no longer be afraid of my beauty. I will no longer hide in the shadows. My weight, my skin, my flaws will no longer define my beauty. I was beautiful at 400 pounds and I am beautiful now. And loving myself again has been the most freeing thing of all.
Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it. -Confucius