The doctor said, “It’ll be nice to be able to walk down the aisle of an airplane, right? To fit down the aisle, and to not see that look of horror when someone sees you coming.”
He said that because I weighed 300 pounds. He said that because he thought that all I wanted in life was to not be that creeping horror, shuffling sideways to the back of the plane, trying not to make eye contact with anyone because I didn’t want to see their relief when I passed by. Trying not to make eye contact with the person in my row because I didn’t want to see horror, and I really didn’t want to see pity, and I really didn’t want someone to lean over and explain to me that I was fat and that there are things I could do about it. Like water and jogging, or carrots and the Thighmaster.
He said that like it was a fact about all fat people. All fat people hate themselves. All fat people know that what’s good in life is really only accessible to thin people. Thin is the most important variable in of life’s equations. Thin equals happy, thin equals beautiful, thin equals a life worth living.
The most embarrassing fact of my life — and oh, how many embarrassing facts there are in my life — is that it was true. I was angry at him for saying it, for buying into the cliché of the fat person. For assuming that my life would transform immediately. Because he was saying all the things I had secretly thought. He was reinforcing all the secret fantasies I had about the way everything about me would be more amenable and lovable and acceptable to the whole rest of the world. To everyone on airplanes and everyone in my life. To myself. When I lost all the weight. When I got weight loss surgery.
He was my psychological consultant, the doctor who was tasked with clearing me for surgery. He signed off my mental and emotional fitness to get a surgery that I genuinely believed was going to save my life. Not just physically — though I was actually damn healthy — but emotionally.
And, three months later I got weight loss surgery. Seven months later I had lost over a hundred pounds; a year and a half from my surgery date, I had lost about 180 pounds.
Photo: Courtesy of Kristin Brandt
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