one extreme to the other

It’s kind of a sick fascination, lying down and tracing the outline of my ribcage. Look, here are my ribs, here is the outline of my ribcage, all the way down to the bottom, here is the dropoff, that sharp ridge that collapses into soft belly. It is not healthy, or attractive. It feels kind of awful, and makes me squeamish, but that kind of squeamish where you can’t stop. In the haunted house, the bowl full of peeled grapes they tell you are human eyeballs. Gross! Gross! You keep putting your hand back in the bowl and rolling them between your fingers, imagining that they really are eyes, in the palm of your hand. Horrible and enthralling.

It is horrible, and enthralling. I have got bones, and I can feel them, here under my fingertips. I lie on my back, in bed, and I trace them down, feel the knobs of my hips, and I am amazed to have this skeleton which I never noticed before. I am a science project. A flabby, unhealthy science project. Hang me up in the corner of the classroom, and explain to the students that this is not how you lose weight. That this scrawny specimen, here, should have been lifting weights the whole time, should have been drinking more water, shouldn’t have been so complacent, and forgot the important things that left her weak. She feels guilty that she’s so captivated by the external signs of not-so-healthy. That she doesn’t want to eat more, and can’t she just like, try lifting weights for a while?



I grew up fat, and I spent the majority of my adult life obese, and I am very aware that it is so many, many times easier to be normal weight than it is to be fat. Fat women who are comfortable and fit and healthy and happy in their skin are still dealing with fucked-up prejudices in a world where fat is still a pejorative and that makes me so angry, but I don’t have to deal with that directly, anymore. And I am very aware that I am very lucky, in that, and that saying how angry it makes me, that women deal with that kind of judgment doesn’t mean a hell of a lot, anymore, because who am I? And that this does not look like a problem to anyone in the world, being skinny. I just need to eat a sandwich and do some yoga, and I’ll be fine, and what the hell am I bitching about?

I don’t like how much the weirdness of my body fascinates me; I am terrified by my reluctance to call a doctor, even though I am aware that this isn’t a good kind of not overweight, but the unhealthy kind that alcoholics get–I know, now, what this body reminds me of, and it brings back a feeling of visceral, awful sickness, and I am still, still! reluctant to do anything about it. I was a bad fat woman–I was perfectly capable of seeing the beauty in every woman’s body, the curves and the flesh and the gorgeousness and riled up and inspired by the health-at-any-size movement, but horrified by my own body, and disgusted by my fat, hated my body. I was a hypocrite, and I hated myself for that, too.

And now that I have lost the weight, I’m a bad thinner person, an unhealthy one, a bad weight-loss surgery patient. From one extreme to the other. It happens so fast, it’s easy to forget all the balls you’re supposed to be juggling. It’s easy to forget that there are rules for a reason, and consequences, too. I don’t want to call my surgeon and say hey, you know how you said I was doing so good? I fucked up, and you didn’t even notice. I’ve suspected–no, I knew. I knew I was, and I didn’t say a word, and I watched my bones kind of appear and I was fascinated, and I’m going to do yoga, and lift weights, and I know that will help, but also, what else should I do? I know this is unhealthy. I should gain some weight. I’ll stop trying to let that idea panic me. I’ll keep my hands at my sides and just keep thinking about England, and my health.

13 Replies to “one extreme to the other”

  1. I am glad to be able to comment again, but you did it again. You reached into my brain and dragged out my thoughts. I have laid in bed and traced those same spots. I have felt very similar.

    I feel like I am worse now than I was when I was fat because now I am 100% obsessed with every bite I eat. I am just completely wrapped up in this whole thing where I will never, ever be thin enough. I am at 160. I look good, although in many ways, I look too thin. My facial skin in stretched over a skull and the folds of skin just hang. I saw a baby at church and he was scared of my face. So why can’t I stop? Why can’t I say it’s enough and just let it go?

    I didn’t have the surgery, I was on medicine and I am back on it because the weight was not sticking. I know how to eat. I exercise all the time. I know all about how to lose weight, but I can’t get to my goal on my own. Not even close. So when I can’t take the pills anymore what makes me think that I am not going to be going back into the 200’s again.

    Frankly, I am terrified. And I don’t even want to admit on my own blog what’s scaring me so badly.

  2. Ok, here’s one thing you have to remember. Your bosy is still new to this, it is still adjusting and reconfiguring and shifting. Weight loss is not a one step deal. Your body is not “done” the minute you reach some magic number. There are normal fluctuations and (eventually) stabilizations in weight that will occur, and also there will be big changes in how your body and your skin LOOK at a given weight, even if that weight remains the same, over time. Rapid weight loss is a shock to the system in so many ways and you have to give it time to catch up and balance out. Especially your skin. That will change very much over the next year or so.

    All that being said, you should still call your doctor. Because, you know, I care about you. And I can’t afford to fly to Utah and kick your butt right now. So please call.

  3. I think your point is meant to be that weight issues are complicated and, for you, being thin is every bit as miserable as being fat.

    I don’t buy it. Posting on a fat acceptance website about how rough it is to be thing? A think you obtained through surgery, which, no matter how rough the recovery time, is maybe half as difficult as perservering in a diet and exercise program.

    How does it make you feel that your more weighty friends have to listen to you bemoan your fate, even though you’ve gotten exactly what you signed up for?

  4. It makes me feel like an asshole, Linda, thank you. And I am perfectly aware that it’s easier to be thin than fat. My point, Linda, was not that being thin is making me miserable–my point is that not taking care of myself is making me miserable, and that I do not like the way being thin can be so fascinating. I don’t want thinness to be the end and ultimate goal–I want health to be the goal, and I lost sight of that. And all of my points, here? I’m pretty sure are in the post.

    As for your suggestion that it is easier to get surgery than diet? You have no idea what you’re talking about.

  5. Linda, I think your comments show quite a bit of ignorance about WLS.

    And that you don’t seem to understand the issues that lie within a person with a weight problem (present or former), and how some of those issues (body image, for one) are there regardless of the number on the scale. Many, many women who lose weight deal with different but yet surprisingly similar issues as they did before.

    And if you read Anne’s posts and the comments more often, you’d know that many people respond to her and understand the issues she writes about.

    Sorry you can’t summon up enough sympathy for a fellow human being’s struggles (and, might I point out, a fellow WOMAN, and being one I’d think you’d have an ounce of compassion for how fucked up we’re made to feel about ourselves and our bodies in this society).

    Finally, I think you’re rude.

  6. Wow. I know how you feel. I’ve been there. Though, I was never really over weight except for a couple years in junior high when I crossed the line from not thin but pretty normal sized, to chubby, to overweight, I was a dancer and actress and so even when totally not overweight by most of America’s standards, I was fat by Hollywood’s standard. I definitely had times where I felt huge. At one point I was able to just lose weight. It was actually really easy at first. A lifestyle tweak here, a change of food choice there and “Wow. Look at me!” and then it started “If I can be this thin let’s see if I can get thinner. There is still slightly pinch-able flesh on my body. Let’s see if we can get it all as tight as a mummy around my bones and muscle!” And I did. And so I kept losing and I grew more and more obsessed. It wasn’t easy. It was tiresome and I didn’t know how to stop losing and was terrified of gaining any weight back. And then I got to a point where I KNEW I wasn’t healthy phsyically or mentally. But still didn’t want to fix it. It IS scary to find youself caught up in an obsession with your body and the food you put into it. To be hyper aware of things like that all the time. To sudenly love the new bony you, even if it’s uncomfortable and people who love you keep telling you you’re too thin and that you look “gaunt”. I think you are brave for posting this. Body acceptance is about loving your body and being okay with yourself no matter what size. Whether big or small. I think it was a perfectly reasonable blog for this site. There are so many emotional issues that are related to both weight loss and body acceptance. They all need to be talked about. I hope that you don’t feel like an asshole. You’re not. Not at all. I love this blog. Your writing is great and you are inspiring and funny and honest and REAL. I do agree with Anon though. Please call your doctor and talk about this. Your health is the most important thing you have. I also agree with the fact that your body is still adjusting to the change and will take time to stabalize.

  7. I am not sure why, but my second comment (a direct response to Linda) did not indicate it was me, anon, and I very much want that known.

  8. First of all, I don’t think that this is a fat acceptance site so much as a self acceptance site. Anne’s posts (especially this one) are very much about learning to accept herself, especially now that her entire self has changed so much.

    Second of all, your ignorance is showing, Linda. Might want to tuck it in a little. Trust me when I say (as a WLS patient myself) that losing weight via surgery is roughly a zillion times harder emotionally and physically than you can possibly imagine.

    And as one of Anne’s friends (who is indeed weightier than her, and probably always will be, regardless of my own surgery), I can say that her words make me proud that she’s been brave enough to put this out here, even if they do make me worry about her a little. Maybe you need to do a little self reflection of your own to figure out why you needed to attack her for it.

  9. Linda, anon put everything I had to say so well I’m not going to bother repeating all of it. It’s not worth the internet space and chances are you won’t listen anyway.

    Anne, don’t feel guilty. Your body’s changing and it is a fascinating process. Any time my body’s gone through a change, good or bad, I’ve done the same things. So, don’t feel like you are “bad” or “wrong” or any of those other things. You’re human and you’re going through a weird, body and life changing experience, it’s to be expected. Also, call your doctor (but you know that already. ;) ).

    As for the thing about feeling like you have no room to talk about body acceptance or whatever, that’s nonsense. It’s good and right to speak out against prejudice any time you see it, regardless of if you fit into the marginalized group. Is it wrong for a white person to hate segregation just because they aren’t the ones being segregated? Of course not. As you have said on this site so many times, body acceptance is about doing what is right for your individual body and being allowed to live your life without being discriminated against or judged for it. You did what was right for you as an individual, you are not a hypocrite.

  10. “I’m a bad thinner person, an unhealthy one, a bad weight-loss surgery patient. From one extreme to the other.”

    Oh Anne, you aren’t bad, and you certainly don’t have to be the perfect WLS patient, because that person Does Not Exist.

    I have no idea what it’s like to be a person experiencing WLS and its after-effects, but I’m pretty sure that when they do the surgery stuff they don’t operate on your emotions as well . . . which means that if you felt like a bad person before, if your body was the unwelcome Other, that won’t automatically change when you get thin. It’ll just manifest differently, and that sucks, because it’s this whole other thing to cope with, aside from dealing with your weight and your food and your vitamins.

    Please visit your doctor—soon—and please keep expressing yourself here if it helps you to work through the tangles. Lots of people here are rooting for you!

  11. those of you that have had WLS – with it’s share of hardship and baggage, would you ever consider a do over and take WLS out of the equation? i doubt it – and to us non members of the wls club, it’s part of the “allure” that make WLS appear to be the magic button we all would like pushed to take away the never ending battle we struggle with day to day. as someone that is classified as obese but not obese enough to offer up WLS it makes me envious that the voluntary decisions and torments i have to make every second of the day are removed and controlled by your WLS. i want that magic eraser. i can’t relate to annes journey – can’t relate to the idea that one is skinny, struggles with it and it all seems so out of her control because she got the rewired harddrive. maybe something is missing by not really taking the journey on foot but rather by supersonic rocket. maybe it’s part of that journey that provides a better teacher or maybe not… i can’t stand that everyone has to jump all over and berate that other people who come here who have a different perspective, that it’s possible that they are pissed or confused or dissappointed that whinning about being thin upsets them – if it really is nothing but preaching to the choir & personal cheerleading squad going on here is the comments section really necessary?

  12. gin, if you read any WLS patient’s blog, including mine, I think you’ll see that the never ending battle doesn’t go away. Really, it’s the whole point of blogging about it for me, to show the world that it’s not a “magic eraser” and that we do still have to make the right decisions about what to eat and exercise and taking care of ourselves. And as Anne pointed out, that was exactly what she is saying in this entry.

    Would I go back and take a do-over minus the WLS? No, because I tried it without WLS over and over and over again, and it did not work. WLS was my last resort to get myself healthy, and as hard as it is, it’s been worth it. But that doesn’t make it any less annoying to be told I “took the easy way out”, you know?

  13. Part of me really doesn’t even want to comment again, because, dead horse? Pretty well beaten.

    But, gin, I have to say something. You said you hate that everyone jumped all over and berated someone with a different perspective and that didn’t happen.

    If Linda had said, “You know, Anne, I read this and I try to relate but it’s hard, because I don’t feel I can relate to someone who had WLS” that would have been different. (I still would have commented, because I still think this isn’t about WLS but about body image and related struggles.)

    But my biggest issue was with her tone, which I find hard to believe you don’t think was hostile. I didn’t jump on her or berate her, though I did call her rude and I stand by that.

    You say “to us non members of the wls club, it’s part of the ‘allure’ that make WLS appear to be the magic button we all would like pushed to take away the never ending battle we struggle with day to day. as someone that is classified as obese but not obese enough to offer up WLS it makes me envious that the voluntary decisions and torments i have to make every second of the day are removed and controlled by your WLS. i want that magic eraser.”

    I lost a lot of weight but I didn’t have WLS. I have read a great deal about WLS, though, and I know that it isn’t a magic button or a magic eraser and I’m surprised to hear you state that. As I said to Linda, many of us relate to Anne and what she writes. But that doesn’t mean that everyone who comments here is either skinny or had WLS. This journey and the issues we discuss here are about far more than either of those things.

    I won’t speak for Anne, but I think she is perfectly willing to hear dissenting thoughts. I think people should just (a) do it nicely, and (b) arm themselves with more information before they tell someone else that she took the
    “easy way.”

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