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My Body, My Self 

Food issues and a bad self-image led our columnist to undergo weight-loss surgery. She's still a mess, but a better-looking one.

Wednesday, Jan 2 2008
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Page 5 of 5

The world starts treating me differently, too. The first thing I notice is that the smaller I get, the more people start letting me into traffic. White men begin to notice I exist. Clerks in stores don't assume I'm stupid.

At almost two years out now, I am still losing weight. Your new stomach pouch stretches a bit over time, but your intestine really stretches, so that three years out from surgery, you can eat a pretty normal amount of food, like a sandwich and a banana, for one meal. This is how you slow down and then maintain your weight loss, along with exercising and eating healthy, lower-calorie food.

As I write this, almost at my two-year anniversary, my life is both very different and very much the same. I have lost 160 pounds and now weigh 200. I'm tall, so though not slim, I look pretty proportionate. I'm hourglass-curvy, and for the first time in my whole life I love my body.

Then there are the myriad other little things that are different. I no longer have to scout out the strongest chairs when I enter a room. I can still make jokes about my size. (I no longer have to post "Lost Dog" signs around town, all the while not knowing that the Chihuahua is actually wedged between my butt cheeks. D'oh!)

What hasn't changed is my relationship to men. I still can't tell when I am being asked out, and I still expect to be rejected at every turn. If I have a date with a guy and he cancels for a good reason, or says he is tired because he has been working for two days straight, all I hear is "I don't like you." The more I like someone, the harder it is to get that he might like me. If he does give me nice attention, instead of feeling all glowy, I feel like breaking down and crying. And even to this day, if a handsome man is staring at me from across the room, I do the Molly Ringwald Sixteen Candles thing of slowly looking over my shoulder to see the person behind me that he must be looking at, or the John Cusack Better Off Dead thing of assuming that I must have a booger, or the Revenge of the Nerds thing of quickly changing into a Darth Vader costume so that I can more comfortably sleep with them without their having to see my face.

I still have anxiety, and food is still the first thing that enters my head whenever I feel it. But I recognize it, give it a little wave, and move on. I smoke and drink way more than I used to, which I'm sure is part of what they call a "transfer of addictions" that happens to many post-ops.

So, yeah. I'm still a mess, but a better-looking mess.

The main thing I have learned is a sort of Anne Frank philosophy. She said that all people are good at heart. I think that we are all in there somewhere, deep inside, and what is in there is right and good. We need to clear away the debris that is covering up our true essence. I had to get really fat to find myself, and then I had to find the strength to pull myself back down to a "normal" size and deal with the world as that person. This is really hard to do. No wonder I have ambivalence.

Another thing to understand is that you can change your own head, but you can't change anyone else's. I went on my first date with a "hot" guy a few months back. I slipped into my size 16 pants and looked in the mirror one last time before I left. "Wow," I thought. "You look pretty, Katy." I even cried a little, out of happiness. I was proud of myself. I was really nervous about my date, but we met and had a good time. Then he let me know how he felt.

"Yeah," he said. "I really like you."

"Aww," I said, blushing.

"Yeah, I dunno," he continued. "There's just something about a fat girl."

About The Author

Katy St. Clair

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