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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Shock and Awe

When I accepted this new job, I was excited at the prospect of a new start in a new town where I had no expectation to live up to. Following a dear friend's advice, I considered not sharing my past with my new coworkers and acquaintances.

My friend suggested I keep mum about my past because he felt I deserved to make impressions based on who I am now, not on who I used to be. He's always thought my column, blog and transparency on my history with obesity was unfair to me. I understand where he's coming from. He's seen firsthand how people treat me differently once they find out I used to be morbidly obese or that I had weight-loss surgery. They scrutinize my body to gauge whether I've had cosmetic surgery or if I was ever big enough to "truly need it." They talk to me differently; the watch everything I eat. It's like living in a fishbowl, and it loses its charm quickly.

My attempt to follow his advice didn't last long, though. After all, I can't change that fact that I used to be morbidly obese and how it has shaped my character. I can't change my dietary restrictions, and I refuse to let people assume I'm one of those healthy-looking women who hates herself and is perpetually on a diet.

I don't broadcast my past or my surgery, but I don't shy away from the subject when it comes up. I've showed my before pictures to a couple of people and the reaction is always the same: shock and awe. I'm told I look like a different person, that they never would have guessed I had a history of obesity. I know I should be flattered, but it's hard. It's been 2.5 years since I had WLS; I'm at home in this new body. At the same time, I can't blame people for how they react -- especially if I'm openly sharing my history.

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