One of my Weight Watcher girlpals recently posted up a link to Mamamia and in particular an article about photographer, Julia Kozerski who, over the past 12 months has lost over 70kg and has documented the changes in her body and lifestyle via her photography.
She’s created a record of her fantastic weight loss but also has a series of photographs showing the brutal truth of what losing half of yourself actually means on a physical level. It brought tears to my eyes but they were not tears of pride in the successes of my now healthy sister in arms. It was tears of shame and realisation that I will forever be living with a body that is essentially damaged goods.
The real toll of having been an obese person is painfully obvious and it’s a reality that I now face every day when I look in the mirror and I happen to be naked. A belly apron that hangs low, with skin so stretched that it’s not even bothering to dimple back up anymore. Ribs (or the vicinity of the ribs) that are marred with scars and lines of stretched out skin that, when relaxed, is a crumpled mess. Wrinkles on my face that weren’t there until I lost 30kg and become more apparent with every kilo that I’ve lost since.
People say not to think of stretch marks as a negative thing but rather, take them as a mark of how far you’ve come… a “tiger that’s earned her stripes” as it were.
I will never look at my stomach or breasts and think of those marks as anything but a sign of my weakness, my laziness and the emotional turmoil of my life and how I couldn’t deal with it any other way than by eating. And no one gets to as large as I was without having to deal with collateral damage. As fit as I have become, as better as I feel physically, the mental toll of seeing what is left after I’ve lost the weight is not empowering.
So while you see a shapely, curvy girl strutting down the street in heels, what you’re really seeing sometimes is a woman who is afraid to walk out of the bathroom naked in front of her husband, who often shies away from physical touch beyond a hug, who knows beneath the smarter, smaller-sized clothes, lays a wreck.
Clothes can hide a multitude of sins and create brand new lies in and of themselves through pure false advertising. I can wear girdles and tummy tuckers and thigh smoothers. I can wear bras that are beautifully shaped and deeply padded. I can wear jeans with built-in hidden mesh panels that flatten and lift and hug. All of it serves as a tight, uncomfortable reminder of the shape that I can create an illusion of but will ultimately have to make some surgeon very rich to actually get.
And it sucks.
Losing weight is wonderful. Don’t get me wrong, as much as I am hating the left-overs of my previous life, I LOVE where it’s taking me now. I am rediscovering that my body is capable of far more than I give it credit for, even with my bad hips and back and everything else. Just don’t look to closely.
I just wanted to tell the truth – the naked truth, as it were – about the realities of being obese. It doesn’t ever end. Not even when you lose the weight. It just becomes more a more private issue when you present a facade that’s in line with social acceptability.
Cher: … she’s a full-on Monet.
Tai: What’s a Monet?
Cher: It’s like a painting, see? From far away, it’s okay, but up close it’s a big old mess.
— Clueless, 1995