In 2007, I had weight loss surgery.
I lost 180 pounds and have — for the most part — kept it all off. There's just one little catch. It’s one that the surgeon warns you about beforehand, but you’re not listening, who cares, because you're about to go from a size 28 to a size 8! It's all that loose skin.
When you lose a rapid amount of weight in a short period of time, loose skin is inevitable. And at 29, I definitely have it, despite having lost my weight in the most elastic and forgiving of my skin’s youthful years.
I’m not complaining. I mean, my heart isn’t in trouble anymore. Diabetes is no longer on the horizon. I can now comfortably fit in an airplane seat and on a roller coaster.
But my extra skin pools around my ass when I sit in chairs. It flings itself forward when I lean over to kiss a guy. It bubbles comically out of whatever pants I’m wearing, and mocks me cruelly for considering “low waist” anything.
My extra-jiggly thighs and ass bounce a little too furiously, always out of beat, along with me at the gym or when I run across a street.
I’m grateful that the treadmills and elliptical machines at my gym face away from the exposed brick walls (they don’t judge my extra jiggle as I bounce around to the workout playlist I made composed entirely of 90s/00s industrial rock music).
I’m not always so lucky with the non-judging, though.
I’ve had a handful of meaningful relationships in the past 8 years, and a bigger handful of only-slightly-meaningful ones. The latter seemed only too eager to share with the world how truly terrible it was for them to climb under the sheets with someone whose boobs had “suffered the consequences” of extreme weight loss.
One of the last guys I dated admitted that he’d dumped girls in the past for having loose skin after weight loss, but that he’d made an exception for me because I had a smashing personality that made up for it. (What a generous spirit, right?)
Others were fairly graceful about it, and would only bring it up if I did.
“You’re not that bad,” they might say, as they reached for the light switch.
During a fling I had with a co-worker in his late 30s (I was 23 at the time), I had a moment of clarity. After a few drinks we went to the bedroom.
“I’m not perfect,” I said. “I’m squishy. I lost a lot of weight.”
By then I’d gotten used to giving guys The Warning. I'd play a game where I got drunk enough to not be overly sensitive to negative reactions.
“I don’t care.” He kissed me. “I’m used to 45-year-old bodies, post-kids, post-living life. You're just you.”
And that’s when I stopped apologizing for my body. Everyone has things about themselves they might change. I always assumed that underneath everyone’s clothes, they were just "normal."
But life happens: babies, beer guts, scars, accidents—it’s what makes us human. If someone has a problem with it, run the other way.
Like I did with Reddit guy.
Although we're no longer together, Reddit guy regularly confesses his feelings about my loose skin on various subcategories of Reddit (who does that?).
He has written that I was still “overweight…with almost non-existent breasts,” when we were dating and and ruined many of our romantic evenings with my “sugar sickness,” which if you don’t know, can get quite ugly (too much fried/sugary foods post surgery = spells of dizziness, sweating, possible vomiting, and a strong desire to go to sleep).
He wrote a lot about me while we were dating—he went into detail about our daily adventures, which was off-putting for sure, but at the time it didn't really upset me because I had no clue my body bothered him.
But he really let loose with the bad stuff after I dumped him — in fact, I'm pretty sure he's now been talking trash about me longer than we actually dated.
Mr. Reddit can’t understand why someone would choose to lose weight any way other than the old-fashioned way, but he does concede that it “beats [me] having diabetes and losing a leg, though.”
All in all, Mr. Reddit ranked me around a “7, or lower” on the hot scale. What a guy.
I found out about Mr. Reddit’s trash talk shortly after we broke up, through a friend who had been lurking on his Reddit comments on my behalf. My first reaction was to send him a scathing email detailing exactly what is wrong with talking that way about someone else’s body.
I didn’t even care that he was talking about me in particular, but what if he did this with other women? What gave him the right to judge someone else? I wasn't out there talking about his body, or his insecurities (of which there were many, let me say).
But I decided the best response was to ignore him. Bullies are a waste of time. I’m still baffled that fully grown men feel the need to bash other people for their bodies.
At the end of it, I'm just me. I'm not sorry.
My skin has become a filter for self-important men who think they deserve better, and I am grateful for that. Do I really want to be with someone who puts me down for not looking amazing in a bikini? No thanks.
Several years ago, I had clearance from my insurance company to get my boobs "fixed."
Even though they weren’t really “that bad,” I felt as though that was just the thing I was supposed to do. Taking the next step on my ~*weight loss journey*~ included getting fake boobs and possibly losing any sensation (which is a big deal to me, if you know what I mean).
My boyfriend at the time actually convinced me not to go through with it. “I like you the way you are,” he said.
I was just going through the motions of what I felt I was supposed to do, and what he said made me realize I was being stupid for not going with my gut. And my gut was telling me (in its lovingly jiggly way) that I was making a huge mistake. So I canceled the surgery.
My skin and I have seen some shit. We’ve moved across the country together. I go to the gym nearly every day, and am in pretty good shape. I see so many people apologizing for their shapes and their skin issues, but after nearly a decade of living a healthy life with this one silly side effect, I think we should all collectively knock it off.
I recently attended a weight loss surgery support group meeting for the first time in several years. The topic of discussion was plastic surgery, and “all [we] needed to know.”
There was a friendly surgeon using a PowerPoint presentation to show “before” and “after” photos of the patients he’d helped “complete their journeys.”
He primarily spoke of the scarring and the complications that can arise from plastic surgery to remove excess skin. He showed one image of a young woman, around my age and weight, who’d had surgery to repair her excess stomach skin and augment her breasts.
The “after” pictures did not show a perfect figure. They showed the reality of surgery: a deep, dark scar that ran jagged across her stomach, with large round breasts that were like two eyes looking in opposite directions.
I was shocked: None of the “after” photos were the Barbie-like bodies I'd imagined or anything that appealed to me in a "Yes! Sign me up! Here’s $20,000!" way.
It just proved to me that no matter what, we’re all left with imperfections. That’s just life. Our skin tells our stories, and that’s what makes us interesting.