Over at Rookie, Katie McMahon writes about being pressured by her mother into losing weight from childhood until 16, when Mommy Dearest made McMahon an offer she couldn't refuse - paying for her to have liposuction at 18.
The highlights (for lack of a better word) of this essay include McMahon's mother calling her "thunder thighs," forbidding her to eat junk food, and making her play sports that she hated in a misguided effort to police her body shape. Other family members enabled this behavior, especially McMahon's father, who didn't object when she decided to go through with lipo:
When I told my dad I was accepting my mom's offer, he said it was fine by him as long as I felt absolutely certain of my choice. And, believe me, I did. My past hesitance had been replaced by the nipped-and-tucked happiness I saw on TV shows like The Swan and Extreme Makeover, where I internalized the "magic" that plastic surgery could work for unhappy people like me: The people on these shows became so sexy and desired after their operations that their past selves were unrecognizable, and I thought I would be transformed that way, too. I pictured myself in a line of women, like on a reality show, and thought, If I were only smaller, maybe someone will look at me and say, "I want that one."
But the operation made things worse:
So I did it. I had liposuction on my thighs, arms, and stomach. And, as what should have come to no surprise after my doctor's disclaimers, I was still shocked and mentally destroyed when the surgery didn't turn out how I wanted it to. My arms were the same size, but with extra skin flaps, little white stretch marks, and oozing scars. My stomach had loose skin in all new places, and I couldn't see my belly button unless I moved folds of hanging flesh away from it with my hands. My thighs were smaller, but my knees now looked swollen instead of just chubby. The physical post-op pain was extreme, but it was nothing compared to how heavy my insides were with confusion and regret. After all I had hoped for, I felt worse about myself.
It would take years for McMahon to make peace with her body for the way it is. This involved confronting her mother about pressuring her to make such a drastic decision, and then realizing that she alone had the power to feel good about herself. Liposuction or not, I'll bet that that's a relatable journey for a lot of people.
Image via KAMONRAT/Shutterstock.