I Had A Weight Loss Surgery, But I Am Part Of The Body Positive Community

I Had A Weight Loss Surgery, But I Am Part Of The Body Positive Community

The place of weight loss surgery patients within the body positive community.

In the words of Oscar Wilde, "To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance." I discovered the ability to love myself within the body positive community.

The body positive community is a largely social media based group, all of whom represent and support the body types of all individuals, from fat to thin, and everything in between. Within this community is the fat positive community, clumps of individuals supporting fat people and encouraging positive self image, regardless of negligent typical media representations.

I, as a plus size woman, have been a part of this community for as long as I remember, and it was a beacon of light throughout my teenage and early adulthood years to which I have consistently held fast. Largely due to the influence of these other individuals, who understood my struggles and assured me that my fat did not make me a lesser person, I grew up to be a strong and confident individual, someone who was proud to have the body into which I was born. It made me happy to be who I was.

However, despite my contentment, I was unhealthy.

As a disclaimer: that is not to say that all fat people are unhealthy, anymore than I would suggest that all thin people are inherently healthy. Unless one has access to the medical files of any individual, then it is not up to one to decide whether another is healthy or not, based on their weight.

Anyway - I was unhealthy. I have a history of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes on both sides of my family. Not only that, but I have a disability, and being overweight was terribly detrimental to my legs. Basically, I had a choice to make: lose weight, or face a lifetime of health issues. I chose weight loss, and decided to help along the process by having a surgery done, known as the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy, VSG, or Gastric Sleeve. If you're interested in more details regarding the surgery itself, or other weight loss surgeries, check out these sites.

Having this surgery was certainly not an easy fix. It required months of therapy, nutritional appointments, hours on the phone with my insurance company, and a hefty fee to even step foot in the door of the hospital, let alone have the surgery. During these months, I discovered that not only did I have an addiction to food, but I also had a Binge Eating Disorder. It was a rollercoaster, emotionally and physically, and I was scared to death of everything that could go wrong. However, on December 17th, 2015, I had the Gastric Sleeve surgery done, after two weeks of liquid dieting.

Since then, I have lost forty-four pounds and counting, and it feels so good to worry less about my future health.

Something else I noticed during this time is a surprisingly large grey area within the body positive community, regarding individuals who have had weight loss surgery. There seems to be a taboo within the community regarding surgical weight loss, and sometimes weight loss in general, and I think that is a gross oversight.

A social media post titled "The Rules for Being Fat" by Lonie McMichael, summed up this oversight best:

"#7. If a diet does not work, go have your stomach amputated or squeezed (weight loss surgery). You might die of complications. You will be 4x more likely to kill yourself than the rest of the population. If you don’t die, you will most likely have long-term complications and nutritional deficiencies that will reduce your quality of life significantly. You also have an excellent chance of becoming an alcoholic. Oh, and 80% of you will regain the weight."

The rest of this article, by the way, was very well thought out and did thoroughly explain many struggles and expectations that society has placed upon fat women, but this "rule" in particular bothered me. What did this mean for me? Was I a sellout to this community that I cared about so passionately? Did I no longer have a place within it?

It was terribly disheartening, the idea of being in the grey area of an important movement, slipping between the cracks. Fat, but not as fat as I was six months ago. The body positivity movement has always been so good to me, and for so many others like me, and has made me incredibly proud to be the person I am, and it hurt me to imagine that those who did such wonderful things for my confidence would be the ones to put down my decision to do what was best for MY body.

Fat positivity is supporting the choices of all fat people, regardless of one's opinion of those decisions, so long as what they are doing is healthy (in the opinion of themselves and their respective doctors) and makes them happy. Disregarding surgical weight loss and the patients of it is not only unfair, it goes against the entire body positivity movement. It is body shaming, plain and simple.

If you’re happy without surgery or dieting, I’m happy for you! I will support you to the ends of the earth, and will never, ever question your decision to be exactly who you are. On my end, however, my genetics and weight were such that I had to make a decision for my personal health, and that decision was weight loss surgery.

Even if an individual's reasons for surgery are purely cosmetic, who are you to judge? Ultimately, we're all just individuals trying to find the solution that best fits our needs and makes us sleep better at night. In the words of the great Danny Glassman, Associate Dean of Students at the University of Tennessee, "Don't yuck my yum".

I’m not ashamed of my body. I’m not ashamed of my weight loss. Please don’t try to make patients of weight loss surgery feel ashamed for doing something that we felt was best for our bodies, respectively. Make room for us, and others who take different paths within their self image journey, within the body positivity community.

Lift people up. Love them unconditionally. Support them no matter what. Don't yuck their yum. Keep the movement inclusive. There are plenty of negative people in the world, keep the positivity movement positive!

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I Weigh Over 200 Lbs And You Can Catch Me In A Bikini This Summer

There is no magic number that determines who can wear a bikini and who cannot.

It is about February every year when I realize that bikini season is approaching. I know a lot of people who feel this way, too. In pursuit of the perfect "summer body," more meals are prepped and more time is spent in the gym. Obviously, making healthier choices is a good thing! But here is a reminder that you do not have to have a flat stomach and abs to rock a bikini.

Since my first semester of college, I've weighed over 200 pounds. Sometimes way more, sometimes only a few pounds more, but I have not seen a weight starting with the number "1" since the beginning of my freshman year of college.

My weight has fluctuated, my health has fluctuated, and unfortunately, my confidence has fluctuated. But no matter what, I haven't allowed myself to give up wearing the things I want to wear to please the eyes of society. And you shouldn't, either.

I weigh over 200lbs in both of these photos. To me, (and probably to you), one photo looks better than the other one. But what remains the same is, regardless, I still chose to wear the bathing suit that made me feel beautiful, and I'm still smiling in both photos. Nobody has the right to tell you what you can and can't wear because of the way you look.

There is no magic number that equates to health. In the second photo (and the cover photo), I still weigh over 200 lbs. But I hit the gym daily, ate all around healthier and noticed differences not only on the scale but in my mood, my heart health, my skin and so many other areas. You are not unhealthy because you weigh over 200 lbs and you are not healthy because you weigh 125. And, you are not confined to certain clothing items because of it, either.

This summer, after gaining quite a bit of weight back during the second semester of my senior year, I look somewhere between those two photos. I am disappointed in myself, but ultimately still love my body and I'm proud of the motivation I have to get to where I want to be while having the confidence to still love myself where I am.

And if you think just because I look a little chubby that I won't be rocking a bikini this summer, you're out of your mind.

If YOU feel confident, and if YOU feel beautiful, don't mind what anybody else says. Rock that bikini and feel amazing doing it.

Cover Image Credit: Sara Petty

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Even As A Non-Skinny Girl, Skinny-Shaming Infuriates Me

We as women need to stick together.

First things first, I am not a skinny girl. But all of this skinny shaming needs to stop. I’ve been picked on because of my size ever since I was a kid, but I’ve also noticed that ever since the rise of body activism, there has also been a rise in skinny shaming, especially from these so-called body activists. Skinny shamers don’t realize that they are bullying others because of their body type, the same way I was bullied for being overweight.

We all know that fat-shaming is wrong. No one should be disadvantaged or ridiculed for their weight. As someone who is not skinny, I also question why skinny-shaming considered by society to be okay but fat-shaming isn’t. There are a few things that skinny-shamers or any kind of body-shamers need to realize:

1. There is no body-type for "real women"

Real women exist all over the world and they can be very thin or very large. Your physical appearance has zero to do with how “real” of woman you are.

2. Body shaming in any form is cruel and oppressive

Picking on another woman’s body, skinny or fat creates a mentality that nobody will ever be good enough. Women of all body types have been conditioned to feel this way, especially by men, for years and it needs to stop.

3. Skinny girls have insecurities too

Believe it or not, women of all body types can have insecurities about their own body. Just because a woman is thin doesn’t mean she’s in love with her body and doesn’t have any real insecurities.

4. We as women need to stick together

It’s bad enough that we have to deal with men’s opinion on our bodies. Let’s work together instead of slamming any body type that doesn’t look like our own, yeah? We already live in a society where women are still not seen as equals to men; let’s not show our teeth to each other too. We’re on the same team.

5. Teasing, bullying, and any kind of body shaming can often lead to eating disorders

Based on past studies and people I have asked in the past, one of the main causes of their eating disorders is other people body shaming them. So before you tell someone that they need to go “eat a hamburger” or they need to “lose weight,” remember that person may be battling disorders like anorexia or bulimia, both very serious illnesses and can lead to death. I beg of you to be kind to one another.

Just remember that your body type doesn’t define you. The only traits that truly define you are your kindness, open-mindedness, loyalty, etc. Your body should be taken care of because it houses all of those traits. But that shell does NOT define you. Remember that.

Cover Image Credit: Instagram

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