Today I'm going to talk about something I've not address before, and can be a rather difficult subject to discuss, that is, the emotional aspects of losing massive weight. First off I want to point out I am going to be talking about losing 50+ lb (23 kg), not a vanity 3 lb or something. Massive weight loss imparts a huge change on your physical appearance, and it can also have a huge impact on emotional and social life.
I will preface this by stating I have read some academic journals on this topic during my university study, I will be drawing on that, my personal experience and experiences of people I have talked with first handed. Though I cannot speak for 100% of everyone, your experience may differ.
VISIBILITYOne of the most obvious effects of weight loss is the physical change visible to everyone, but what I am referring to is not visible change in body shape but rather the reaction society has to thin or obese individuals. Most people who had been previously been obese reported a large shift in how they were received in society - school, the workplace. And I can attest to that.
When I was 235 lb I was in what I call a "sweet spot" I was too fat to be judged as other women are, but not fat enough for people to stare at me in horror or solicit their opinions to me. Oh I'm not saying people didn't think badly of me, but they just left me alone.
However when I was in Junior High, I was not morbidly obese but rather just obviously overweight and I caught hell at every moment. Every moment at school I was constantly aware of myself, and my class mates bullied me all the time. I even clearly remember the day it took me 13 minutes to
Then during my weight loss, as I was going down in weight I didn't feel people began noticing me again until I got into the 140s. Then I just could see many people looking at me, I felt silent judgement and honestly it caused me stress as I felt I always fell to the negative side of the judgement. Was that true? Who knows but its how I felt.
And as I got thinner and thinner into the 120s, I felt I had to keep getting thinner, because more people were paying attention to me. And if I was thinner, those people would see me positively. Though I experienced it negatively at times, I have to say that I did most certainly feel I was more visible when I became thin.
PRIVILEGEThis is an extension of visibility, the positive treatment one receives when one is thin. If you don't know/believe there is such a thing as thin privilege then you have never been obese. I mean you can really only become aware of it when you step out of it.
I would say the most obvious occurrence of thin privilege is in the workplace. Thin people get paid more, and are generally regarded as smarter and more competent. At my last job I was told straight out that I was hired because of my "attractive" appearance, and my manager commented a couple times on how thin I was. After that time I wondered "will I not get a job as easily if I don't weigh 126 lb?"
Some other examples that come to mind on this topic are: having your ideas being taken more seriously by colleagues, receiving more respect in leadership positions, and getting more attention from shop staff.
When you start getting treated in a different, more positive manner, from people (especially those who have been close with) it can make you feel a bit unhappy. As if people wouldn't take your inner qualities seriously until your body fits into a certain type.
Confidence is what most people think of when they think about the emotional side of losing weight, and indeed I think alot of people look forward to gaining more confidence as they lose weight. I didn't think too much of becoming more confident before I lost weight, but I do have to say I did get some confidence, but I also lost a lot of confidence.
I believe my most confident time was right after I lost the first 50 lb, I thought I had accomplished so much and I really felt happy. Until my bf at the time told me I was still too huge to be attractive. Then my confidence went down for a long time until I got into the 140s.
But as more people were aware of my appearance (through this blog) I felt a lot of pressure to get thinner than 137 lb. The more I felt I had to lose weight, the less I liked myself. It got to the point where at 126 lb I thought I was literally overweight, ugly, and needed to lose weight still. All confidence I had was tied directly to how much weight I was losing.
Now that I have re-gained weight (I'm currently 144 lb if anyone wants to know), I have no confidence at all. I don't even want to dress nicely (not that my clothes fit anyway) or put on makeup. I don't want to be seen and I always have thoughts like "Well I used to look good..." I really wish when I was 126 lb I could have seen myself as I really was, and taken care of myself more. Gaining weight again has been extremely crushing for me.
In summary, I have to say weight loss as been positive for me until it went too far. I was so focused on losing more weight, that I didn't stop to enjoy what I had already done and the positive experiences I gained from weight loss (easier travel, ability to express myself through clothing, making friends more easily). I have to say, losing weight for someone else, or society in general, will not be as emotionally fulfilling.