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Here's What Massive Weight Loss Really Looks Like

July 14, 2015 3 min read

We've all seen advertisements, billboards, weight loss stories packaged to be inspirational. They feature the overweight before picture beside an incredible tiny, toned and perfect looking after picture. But is that really the entire story? Elna Barker shared her story with Refinery 29 in a beautiful, thought provoking way. Like so many of us, Barker has struggled with her weight. At her heaviest, she was 265 pounds. In her early 20's she buckled down and lost 110 pounds! She had assumed that when her journey was complete, she'd be living in this perfect body and walk through the world as though the weight had never been there. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. She says,  "I was happy I lost weight. I'd accomplished something I'd always considered impossible. But, it didn't mean I got to reverse time or have a do-over with my body. The Before and After pictures you see on billboards — they're a lie. After dropping the weight, I had so much extra skin that I could lay on my side and pull it a half-foot in either direction." She tried exercise and lotions before finally opting for surgery. Of her surgeries and the outcome, Barker says:
"I've had four procedures in total. I got implants the size of my old breasts and a body lift. Two years later, I went back in for a circumferential body lift. They made an incision around my entire waist, cut out a 6-inch belt of skin, and then sewed me back together, removing over 10 pounds of my skin in total. I also got a thigh lift: They cut up my legs from knees to groin and took out as much skin as they could. To heal, I had to sit in bed for a month with my legs spread open. Sorry, roommates. Now, I have a scar that runs completely around my waist, as if a magician cut me in half. I have two scars running up my legs like inseams. But even surgery couldn't remove the extra skin entirely. When I hold my arms and legs out, I still look like a flying squirrel. I have stretch marks running down the tops of my shoulders, and there's extra skin hanging off my arms and inner thighs. If I bend over, my boobs droop like empty pouches."
Along the way, Barker received this piece of advice: Stop using the past to poison your present. It spoke to her. Nothing that came before has to bear on what comes next. But it is a real struggle. Barker powerfully writes:
"I can see my body however I want to. I choose to dislike it. And I do so because after all these years, disliking the way I look has become a part of my identity. Instead of owning my body, I let the world tell me who I'm supposed to be and how I'm supposed to look. I feed off the downward spiral of shame and self-hatred, because it gives me something to strive for. I don't know about you, but I am so sick of striving for fucking beauty. It has taken up 10 to 20% of my time and thoughts on a daily basis for the past 20 years. It has robbed me of doing more important, loving, honest things. And, after all this time, I'm not even that good at it."
Barker finishes her story by saying that she believes everyone should accept their body. Everyone but her. That is the battle she still wages. And you know what, she's not alone. I believe all people are beautiful but still look in the mirror with disgust from time to time.  I bet we all do. Our world IS constructed to make us believe we need to look one way or the other. The battle against self runs far deeper than any battle against weight. We can all learn from Barker's story. It isn't easy and it isn't always picture perfect but it is amazing and it is worth it. Do your journey for you because whether you see it or not, you are already beautiful. Source: Refinery 29  

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