A couple of days ago, @candyland1986 posted a card called "Woman's Honest Portraits Show What Major Weight Loss Really Looks Like". This article was about a photographer who took a series of self portraits to document what her body looks like after losing a large amount of weight. The photographer, Julia Kozerski, has lost 160 pounds after learning how to deal with "food, obsession, self-control, and self-image." That's quite an achievement! And Julia should be ecstatic right now. She's lost so much weight! Aren't we told to just lose the weight and everything will be great? Isn't it supposed to be that easy? That's IS what we're told by, well, everyone... including the majority of doctors.
However, Julia is not "okay". In the aftermath of her massive weight loss, she is, in fact, struggling emotionally and mentally. She is having to come to grips with the permanent changes that are left behind on her body. Rather than suffer in silence, she is using her art to show the private emotional impact of weight loss.
I understood what this woman was dealing with in the aftermath of losing weight. I, too, went through a period of weight gain and subsequent loss.
@TessStevens, thank you for the encouragement!
(I apologize ahead of time for the quality of some of the photos. Some are old and scanned in. Others are new from my brother's photography website.)
Let me start by introducing myself to those who don't know me. My name is Stacey. I am approaching 30. I live in California, but I am from south Alabama. I have one son and he's pretty much my world.
I've been a dancer and gymnast since I was three years old. I cheered for ten years. I played basketball for two. I've always had a curvy, athletic shape, what many call an hourglass. (Larger breasts, smaller waist, curvier hips.)
I got married at 19 years old. Imagine my shock when I got pregnant on my honeymoon!! We were overjoyed. However, I wound up on bedrest for the majority of the time because of a back injury that was untreatable while pregnant. It's important to note that I am also narcoleptic. I had to take my college classes by internet my last trimester. By the time I gave birth, my body, obviously, had changed.
I couldn't go back to dance for another 6 months because of my back. I gained a lot more weight than I even thought should happen in that amount of time. (The metabolics of narcolepsy wasn't explained to me until much later.) It was a really hard thing for me to deal with, mentally and emotionally.
Because of the weight gain, I even considered not dancing again, but my husband really wasn't allowing that as an option. He was constantly encouraging me. I slowly started back on the same plan I had always done and lost the weight, bit by bit. But when I looked in the mirror, I still saw the same body. It was hard.
You need to know now that my husband was my best friend. His smile was my favorite thing in the world. He was a Army police officer for 12 years. After leaving the Army, he went into the police academy and became a K-9 Police Officer for the city where I was going to college.
He was shot and killed on October 20, 2009, exactly one month before our son's 2nd birthday.
Several months later, about 7-8 months after I went back to dance, I was prepping for the first big recital after my husband's death. It was a contemporary partner dance with a dance partner that I had been dancing with for years - since junior high. This routine was part of our exit test for our senior year of college.
I had always dealt with stage fright in a big way, but I knew this time was different. I remember telling him that I couldn't do it. I couldn't dance in front of people again because I was different. It was an emotional time in general... The entire routine was choreographed around losing my husband.
I remember standing there, at dress rehearsal, thinking, "this won't look good because I don't look good." It didn't matter how many people told me otherwise, either.
But we did the dress rehearsal and, honestly, I can't explain it to you. I broke down in the middle of this lift. My partner and I wound up crying backstage and rushing to redo my makeup before curtain call. For some reason, when he lifted me, I realized It Was Fine. I was still a dancer and that hadn't changed.
We danced. It was beautiful and everyone loved it. (We passed!)
The stretch marks aren't going away... They are a permanent change. There are marks that shouldn't be there and places that were firm will never be 100% the same way again.
But they're a part of who I am now.
I can't change that moment in my past. I do have to be very careful of how and what I eat, because having narcolepsy unfortunately means that my metabolism can be nonexistent at times.
Today I'm able to look in the mirror and realize that those scars are markers of all the miles I've traveled. They gave me a son, the only link I have to my husband. I wouldn't trade them, or him, for anything. I definitely think I'm stronger for it, too.
I'm still a dancer.
I dance ballet, contemporary, jazz, hip hop, belly dancing, salsa... and a few random mash-ups in between.
I teach and choreograph now, as well. I see SO many insecurities in my kids (ages 3-18, male and female). The adults are no better.
For two years, I taught adult belly dancing and pole dancing for fitness. I was constantly having to remind my adult students that the way your body looks should not have to matter to dance, live, laugh, and love. I could not have taught them that lesson if I had not first embraced it for myself.
People are brutal to one another... but remember, you can't say anything to someone that they haven't likely thrown at themselves. That doesn't mean that you should throw careless words at people. You do not know what they are dealing with or why their bodies are the way that they are. Never make assumptions.
I, like Julia, have put myself out here in the hopes that even one person may be helped by my experience. Life is short, my friends. Don't hide in the corner, running from the life that you wish to be living. Only you can make the choice to embrace this life today.
Thank you for reading this. I hope it helped you in some way. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to comment below. Do you have something to add to this conversation? Add that, too.
Again, thank you!