A Facebook/Freethinker friend of mine posted an ad for a local company’s weight loss program. Well, I say program. What it actually markets is the never ending dream of being thin at any cost. The company promotes bariatric surgery as the best way to go about that.
I’m not putting the ad up that’s causing the comment storm on her page there [edit aug 11/10 — the ad is on at least one bus in Saskatoon right now, so maybe you’ll see it there], but what it features is the company’s founder displayed for the world to see in a bright red bikini with a picture of her “before” look held up for comparison. She lost 80 pounds with this surgery and now encourages others, via this company, to follow in her footsteps.
Okay, to be completely transparent here, I don’t know this woman from a hole in the wall but these Freethinker people do, as she was once in the group. From what I gather via rumour mill (thus not entirely trustworthy), her leaving the group had something to do with this business she’s now in, and people in our group who expressed negative criticism over her choices to promote it.
Endrocrine Today released findings recently regarding the “low risks” involved with this surgery in Michigan. They were based on information gathered about 15,000 patients, apparently, and percentages of risk did appear to be pretty slim in terms of endangering one’s self with such a radical procedure. Only 13 deaths were reported.
The Globe and Mail also posted an article about weight loss surgeries recently, regarding the lack of long-term data and what it might ultimately mean for those who’ve undergone procedures like these, especially teenagers lured by the easy (!) application of stomach bands that restrict food intake but can be taken off later if desired.
“Bands are definitely safe in the short term and definitely work in the short term. What we don’t know is about the long term,” Dr. Brandt said. “I’m not saying it should never be used. We just have to be more careful about how we’re using it.”
The Swiss study of adults who had gastric banding, published in Obesity Surgery, came to the same conclusion. Because of complications, the need for another operation, and long-term failure rates, gastric banding should be performed in “selected cases only” until more data are available, it said.
Another group of 276 adults who underwent gastric band surgery had similarly disappointing results in a long-term Austrian study published in the same journal.
Only a little under 54 per cent of the patients still had their original band after nine years, with nearly 18 per cent having the original replaced with a new one and nearly 29 per cent having it removed. Of those who no longer had any band, more than half had a second bariatric operation.
Regardless of how well surgeries like this work for some of these people, the real interest to me this moment is how these procedures might be sold to the public at large, hence this ad I mentioned.
Melanie is an attractive woman, no doubt about that. But, here’s the thing – with this particular ad, she’s selling her look, not a better quality of life. She’s advertising nothing more than a better looking life. She could have achieved the same effect in a well fitting business suit, but she chose instead to sell her nearly naked body as the reason to seek consultation. She’s playing the “Personal Attractiveness” game and ranking her svelte figure as the Ace.
A lot of overweight people are very aware of how they think they appear to other people. A lot of them are wrong; a lot of them are thinking people watch them every second and are cracking jokes among their friends (“If I ever look like that, I give you permission to shoot me! guffaw guffaw”) or silently chiding their choice to sit in McDonald’s even if the meal in front of them is a side salad with no chicken, bacon or sauce.
The real truth is, most of the time people aren’t looking at them at all. They’re not looking at us at all (yes, I’m part of this group of ignored people). We’re just hyper aware of our own bodies, as much or more as any slim person might be. Who knows what goes on in a slim head? I have no idea. I’ve never been slim. Maybe they fret all the time about what’s on their plate and how little their ass fills out their jeans and wonder if Walmart still sells padded underpants. No idea.
But a slim, good looking woman will get more looks aimed her way than I will get. I often get eye evasion. The eyes of those people move aside like there’s some shame in acknowledging a person just walked by at all, let alone a large one.
Which is why this whole Man thing is so damned remarkable. A person can get used to not being seen, you know? It becomes this standard way of life that can totally be used as a jerk detector. At least, that’s what we fat girls will tell ourselves to make us feel better about being ignored by someone we thought was cute yet again. And here the cutest man on the damn planet made a beeline right for me; he came, he saw, and he fucking conquered, laying waste to every false assumption I ever held about myself and my worth as a person. How fabulous is that? It’s pretty fucking damn fabulous, I have to say. So much so that I’ve since lost 18 pounds by eating less and walking a lot more (and he never even noticed — EDIT Aug 1/10 – he asked me to clarify this the other day. What I meant was that it’s like the difference between three inches off short hair vs three inches off long hair – what’s going to be more obvious? I just liked the fact that he liked whatever size I was. That’s so damn rare). Not that I should have needed a guy’s attention for incentive to be fitter and healthier, but at least now I feel I have a reason to want that, and I couldn’t come up with a good enough reason before.
Bariatric surgery and the other styles of invasive weight loss procedures appeal to the women who’ve grown tired of not being seen as the great and fantastic individuals they think they are. Maybe they really are, every single one of them. But it’s far more likely that some of those women are malicious hags who’d never deserve a good man no matter how slim they got or how sexy they dared dress and will wind up thin, bitter, and alone anyway. Would they ever ask themselves if the struggle to live without 85% of their stomachs was still worth it?