There are many changes that you likely expect along your journey after WLS, like lower weight, improvements in your health, and a more active live. But there are other changes you can’t predict. One of the things that you might not have expected is the difference in how people respond to your smaller self. Is it easier to get your voice heard? Are people looking at you differently now compared to before? And perhaps that’s amplified by a new way of seeing yourself? This month, some of our courageous community members shared their experiences with this and how things have changed for them (or not) after surgery.
Have you noticed changes in the way people you knew before surgery interact with or treat you?
Emma: Not really. Not one friend/family member has told me I’ve cheated or taken the easy way out and that has really given me strength over the past 18 months. don’t think I’d have been as successful in my weight loss if I didn’t have such amazing cheerleaders in my corner.
Abbie: I found that my rapid evolution had people come with me on my journey, cheer me on, ignore it or show outright contempt for it. My brother has consistently been my #1 fan and tried to up his own fitness levels. But in contrast, my best friend has largely ignored my journey and really doesn’t like to engage in conversation about it at all.
Laura: People would judge me by my body and behave like I did not matter – as if I was worthless. When I lost weight, people started treating me like I was smart and had value to add. How sad…my brain is the same. Only my dress size has changed, not my soul.
Have interactions with strangers or the general public changed since your WLS?
Evelina: Shop assistants are nicer and greet me more. More people in general say “hello.” Even when I’m out walking in the forest, I get bigger smiles. It was very stressful not to fit into the norm (before). You became both visible and invisible at the same time.
Abbie: This is a difficult subject. Out in public, I suddenly have a presence. I find people smiling at more, opening doors, making conversation with me. Especially men…I get asked for my number and complimented and at times I absolutely love it…Then I remember that the girl who did a 3 week liver reduction diet and went under the knife in a bid to save herself, she didn’t get any of this attention, and she was so deserving of it.
Tina: Personally, I have only noticed one difference and it concerns healthcare (of course…). Where I no longer receive follow-up questions solely because of my weight. When it comes to treatment in clothing stores, for example, there is a difference. But it is with me. I don’t apologize anymore; I take a seat and feel at ease there as a customer. Then you get a completely different treatment because of your own radiance.
What about how you treat yourself?
Tina: The biggest change in me personally is my confidence and self-esteem. I am worthy! I do what I want and make my presence known. I don’t stay at home due to not having anything to wear or that I didn’t want others to see that I got back up (in weight). Now I live the life I want. I usually say that “I am me” now.
Jasmine: I am probably a person who dares to take more space again and exudes more confidence and joy. Something that of course means that more people dare to talk to me. I want to be in the picture again, and I don’t care if I don’t look good in the picture because I know that I am and feel good in reality.
Emma: I feel now that my outside matches who I am on the inside. I have always been outgoing, but I found as I got bigger I shrunk away from situations where I’d be the centre of attention. I really lost who I was. With my bigger size came anxiety and depression and avoidance of social situations. Now after losing 9 stone (57kg) I’ve gained my life back and push myself to be the best version of myself everyday.
Have you noticed any differences in how you interact with the world, or the world interacts with you since your bariatric surgery?
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