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Skinny Shaming – Bariatric Edition

Ever hear the expression “skinny shaming”?  I bet that most of us would be tickled pink to be skinny-shamed.  What concerns me more is how it affects us and what it does to our weight loss goals.


Let’s paint the picture.  Mary has bariatric surgery.  She starts out at 245 pounds. She’s 45 and stands 5’6” tall. 


4 months post-op, Mary is doing GREAT!!  She’s just approached onederland.  She now weighs 197 pounds.  She is feeling fabulous.  She’s off her blood pressure medications and her anti-depression meds.  She’s started a walking program with some yoga classes twice a week. She’s sleeping better, happier overall and she has almost no pain in her joints.


Mary bumps into Karen.  Karen looks her up and down and says “WOAH, you have lost some weight Mary”.  Mary smiles and says, “thanks so much”.  ‘


Karen then says “be careful because you are looking very thin.  You can start to look older or sickly if you lose any more”. 


Like WTH?!?! 


Why do people say/ do this to their friends/ relatives? 


It’s obvious that Mary is not yet at her goal weight.  She set her goal at 150 pounds.  That’s 48 pounds away.  Mary starts to worry that she is looking old, sickly, unwell.  She is still in the “obese range” for her BMI so she starts to feel confused. 


Next stop. Mary picks up her son at school.  The teacher who is organizing pick-ups that day, Dolly, mentions to Mary that she is looking great!  Then she says something else.  She asks Mary if she is planning on losing any more weight.  Mary proudly says, “just 48 pounds more to go”.   Dolly leans in and says “be careful because you are looking awfully tiny. Plus, if we get too lean all our wrinkles show”. 


Mary pulls away from the curb and thinks to herself, “maybe I should have ordered that Frappuccino instead of the plain coffee with cream this morning.


BAM – see what happened there?  Karen and Dolly maybe have just sabotaged Mary’s weight loss efforts.


Mary orders the Frappuccino the next day.  She orders it the next day also.

Hmmmm, her weight loss has stalled out a bit?  What’s going on? 


Not only has she switched her morning coffee routine, but she’s also started to join her regular work crew at the “snack table” at 11 am.  What’s the damage that a cookie or two will do? 


….. and this is exactly how it starts.


Why am I telling you this story?  I want to talk about it.  I want to put it out there because if this has not yet happened to you, it WILL.  I promise. 


I also want to put it out there because it’s happened to me personally.  I know what my perfect weight is.  It’s the place where my hips don’t hurt, and I feel great in my own skin.  I feel more energetic, I sleep better, and I want to do more activities.  If my 140 pounds at my 5’7’’ height bothers you, then look away.  What else can I say? 


Skinny shaming isn’t exclusive to the weight loss surgery community.  It also belongs to anyone who loses weight with diet or exercise.  It’s out there and it is playing with people’s heads.


Skinny shaming leads to regaining.  I guarantee you that if you get two “you look too skinny” remarks, no matter what your weight is, those French fries start to look really good!  Donuts? Sure, why not?  “I’m skinny anyways”. 


Please beware.  Put on some blinders and don’t allow those skinny shamers to ruin your road to GOAL.  It’s like a speed bump that is placed in front of you when you are cruising along.  Jump over it and just continue along your way. 


If it’s happened to you, and you want to vent, hit me up.  I get it.  I can set you straight again.


Healthy Hugs


About the Author: Sheri Burke is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Bariatric Surgery Coordinator at International Patient Facilitators in Tijuana and Cancun, Mexico. She has worked with bariatric surgery clients for over 10 years and especially enjoys providing nutritional guidance to pre and post bariatric clients.  In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two teens and cooking up a nutritional storm in the kitchen.

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