This post's title is a bit misleading, because by the time you actually read this I will have already gotten the Gastric Sleeve. The reason I'm waiting to share this after the surgery is due to nerves. You know how Murphy's Law says, "Whatever can go wrong, will."? Anything, could happen. I could chicken out, my flight could get cancelled, something deeper could be wrong with me and my doctor would cancel the surgery. So for that reason I've chosen not to post this until after the fact. My surgery date is 7/12/2022, and it was not an easy decision to make. I have always been overweight. The sleeve is something I first started considering back in 2017, before starting Eye Candy Boudoir. I'm not going to lie though, being plus size my entire life has had a hand in my skillset with boudoir. As a bigger girl, I know the importance of diversity on a photography website. I also know every roll, bulge and flaw every woman wants covered up or hidden because I've seen it on myself for over 30 years. Therefore, I know to pay attention to it and make sure I don't capture it. Don't get me wrong, I have a healthy sense of self-esteem, and I love my body now, but that doesn't negate the years of looking at myself and seeing things I disliked about myself as an overweight child, teenager, and young adult.
I know what you must be thinking, "Why are you getting the sleeve if you love your body?"
I truly don't believe I could go through with the sleeve if I didn't love my body. It took a long time to get to where I am in my self-love journey, but I wouldn't make the decision to undergo an entire lifestyle change just to be skinny. Do I want to be skinny? It would be nice to slim down a little. More options for shopping, more photographers who would know how to capture my body type...however, I'm stubborn. I like to eat what I want to eat. Food is more important to me than what I see in the mirror.
As a little kid I was always the slowest. I'd want to sit during dance class, I'd get the least laps in gym, and more than an hour at the grocery store had me wanting to leave. It always got blamed on me being fat and lazy, but I learned back in 2021, when I started seeing a chiropractor about my chronic back pain, that my left leg is over 18mm shorter than my right leg. All those experiences flooded back to me. I suddenly remembered my right leg always feeling tight when I got tired of moving or walking. I was asked on numerous occasions if my leg was okay because I was limping. I always just assumed it was just another sign of me being lazy, as that's what I was told my whole life. I'd actively work harder to walk more "normal".
Finding out all of these struggles could have been avoided if people didn't have the privilege of blaming it on my weight broke me. For months I'd randomly start sobbing because of my anger. I was in so much physical pain at 29 because of an issue that had gone undiagnosed my whole life. How do you run a photography business, where you have to bend, and kneel, and sit on the floor, and get up constantly when you're in pain that literally prevents you from wanting to move?
I've been seeing a chiropractor, and I've been wearing a lift in my shoe. At this point the pain has been fairly non-existent for the past few months. I know losing weight will help, even though it won't be a cure. However, I'll do whatever I can to keep myself moving and feeling good. Food may be more important than what I see in the mirror but it is not more important to me than my own physical and personal comfort.
Going through an intense body change though, in itself, is scary. I have grown comfortable in my place in the world living as someone who is bigger. A while back I rekindled a friendship with someone who had been slim most of her teenage and adult life, and had only recently gained weight. Every time I saw her I'd hear about how men treated her differently; how people treated her differently. She would tell me all the awful feelings she had about herself. I felt bad for her, but some of her words crept into my mind and attached themselves to deep rooted insecurities I'd worked so long to put behind me. I feel like I live a very normal life, and am treated by most people in a normal way. Would I find once I lost weight that I'd just been accustomed to people not treating me well because of my appearance? How depressing it would be to learn that I wasn't worth the respect and compassion of the general population because of my weight.
What about my business? I know how it feels to have a size 2 or even a size 8 woman preach to me about body positivity, and loving yourself no matter how you look. It's difficult to not feel like their advice is condescending. How can you help a size 22 woman love herself when you're not and never have been a size 22? Of course I've experienced it, but not everyone will be aware when they see me as a smaller person. Will clients still trust me to know how to photograph them? Am I going to have to work harder to prove that I can photograph women who are bigger? A client told me once she felt more comfortable posing for me because she knew I wasn't judging her as I was plus-size. Will people wonder if I'm judging them if I lose weight? As crazy as it is to think being Plus-Size has benefitted me in certain ways. Even in my relationship with one of my best friend's from college, Kristian. We've both always been plus-size girls. We've been able to talk and relate to one another's experiences in maneuvering the world as bigger ladies. Whether it's regarding dating or family stuff we can always empathize and feel understood by each other. A part of me wishes she was coming on this Gastric Sleeve Journey with me.
More fears crept in. What if she doesn't feel like I can understand or empathize with her anymore? I know that sounds dumb, but I've had a very close friendship end because the person I was friends with felt like anytime I did well at something it reflected negatively on them. It didn't matter if I celebrated their wins, and supported them. They were convinced that because I was, as they perceived, more successful than they were, that I thought I was better than them, and in the end, this person admitted to me that every time I did something nice, or celebrated them that they believed it was for some self-serving reason. What if that happened again? What if Kristian eventually began to no longer see me as a friend who genuinely could understand her, and therefore lost interest in our friendship?
I confessed to her my insecurities, and in response she revealed her own confession. She had already expressed to another friend that she was fearful that I would lose weight and she would just be my "fat friend" and I wouldn't really want to hang out with her anymore. After we both admitted our feelings we felt so silly for having these fears. Our friendship isn't rooted in our weight. It's rooted in our support and mutual love for one another.
I told her I wanted to give her my clothes once they were too big for me. I LOVE my clothes, and feel like I pick clothes that are cute and flatter me well. She's told me on numerous occasions that I'm one of the most best dressed people she knows, and I didn't want to just take all my favorite things to Goodwill. We decided to celebrate with a photoshoot, wearing many of the outfits I'm giving her to celebrate growth, courage, and friendship.
The path to self-love is not free of hurdles...but in the end, what better relationship to fight for than the one with yourself?
I'm having my surgery in Tijuana at A Slimmer Me with Dr. Andrade. Go to https://jlpradosc.com/asm/
Follow me on my Gastric Sleeve Journey on TikTok @jenniferever2
Photos by Doc List https://doclistphotography.com/ Check out the more from the session below...