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All of Me Movie Screening – A Post RNY Patient Perspective

All-of-Me-Poster-smallI used to think I put “All of me” out there. I used to believe that my life was an open book and that everyone was allowed to read each and ever chapter through my blog and this website. The other day I had the pleasure of watching the screening of the movie “All of me,” and you want to talk about putting yourself out there, these women left nothing about themselves and their journey unexposed.

The movie is about a group of women who started together as a Big Beautiful Women ( BBW ) Group that participated in Fat Acceptance ( FA ) parties together and then later began embarking on a journey to lose weight together through different Bariatric Surgeries. The movie focuses quite a bit on the change in the relationships not only between these women, but with their significant others as well.

We talk often about how our decision to have Bariatric Surgery changes us. How it changes our friendships and how it changes our relationships. Very rarely do we see it unfold in front of our eyes on the big screen and manifest itself in a way that actually makes these thoughts and feelings portrayed in a way that we can see them happening. This movie did that.

DawnI had the pleasure of meeting Dawn, one of the stars of the film. I wish I could express how much I identified with Dawn in the movie. I often say that at 420 lb., I was invisible in the world. I was huge and yet nobody noticed me. It is very obvious when you meet Dawn, and get to know her through the movie, that she is passionate about helping make sure that people whose voices are not necessarily loud enough are heard.

ZsalynnThe truthfulness in this documentary film amazed me. The open and candid approach to things like past BBW adult oriented modeling that some of the women in this film participated in, quite honestly made me smile. I do however think that the film included a little too much of the actual modeling content than it needed to, and I think some of the points the film maker wanted to make got lost to some of their audience in the shock factor response to this. Mentioning it is one thing and showing a few examples another. But the scene where one of the women was actually plopping down on her partner in bed was one of those moments where the audience made a lot of shocked sounds and I think that particular vision stayed with some of them for so long that they missed some of the more important relationship aspects of the film because of it. Though I think there was a little too much of it included, I still applaud the film maker and the women in the documentary for including it. The Bariatric Community as a whole can be very judgmental and so much like high school that to see this documentary where these women were completely honest about their pasts and their journeys with no regard or care as to whether or not they were judged for it, made me smile and think to myself, “This is a group of women I could be friends with.” But I’ve always been of the opinion that this community is far too judgmental to one another and far too un-accepting of one another and our vast differences.

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Watching the audience responses to the film intrigued me. Watching what characters they liked verses which ones they didn’t was interesting to me from a psychological standpoint. It seemed many in the audience didn’t like one of the characters in the movie that had successfully lost her weight, changed her attitude quite a bit, and seemed to distance herself most from those that were not on the same path that she was. It appeared that many found her cocky, arrogant and didn’t like her. I on the other hand found myself understanding the need to remove yourself from situations that are not necessarily mentally healthy for the path you are on and not aiding in getting you to your lifestyle change goals whether they are weight related or not.

I often feel within the Bariatric community we live in a bubble where EVERYTHING is about weight loss, weight loss surgery, support groups, conventions and our weight loss journeys. The thing is, for those in our lives that are not weight loss surgery patients or are not trying to lose weight, this can be a very annoying issue. I’ve seen in it my own personal relationships. My family wants nothing to do with the WLS community, they don’t want to attend events because they feel this community is all-consuming. I have been told on more than one occasion “I want to have a friendship with you, but we have nothing in common anymore because all you are about is WLS, weight loss, fitness, and exercise.” – One of my closest non-op friends told me just recently “You know your Father wanted you to have a happy healthy life. Not a sheltered one where 100% of your life was about weight loss surgery.”

At 420 lb. I was defined by my weight. It held me back from things I wanted to do. Today at 165 lb. my life revolves around my weight still, and I’m so busy doing things with and for the WLS Community that its pretty hard to get time with me outside of that. I remember not to long ago, I made the decision to come to Dallas to attend the NKOTB concert with my chosen sister, and when it meant me not attending a weight loss, exercise oriented convention I was going to attend I was ridiculed a little for it. But my life can’t always be about weight loss or I’m letting my weight control my life just as much now as I did when I weighed 420 lb.

We all change, people change as they get older, as they gain more life experience, and interestingly enough that seems to be one of the big fears people have when it comes to weight loss. “I don’t want to change who I am on the inside because I changed who I am on the outside.” I always want to ask them, if who they are on the outside is a true representation of who they are on the inside. Because when I started this journey, I wanted to change. I wanted to live a happier, healthier life. As I started making those changes, my relationships changed, a lot of them. My business relationships, my friendships, my intimate relationships, they all changed as I changed and became more confident in myself. The things I wanted out of life changed and it caused me to separate myself from people who were unhealthy for me.

As I watched this film I asked myself, if I had been in this group of women, would have remained friends with this group of women or stayed with the men that the women in this film were in relationships with and my answer, because I am honest, was no, I would not.

Dawn-and-GuyIf prior to my decision to lose weight I had been a part of a Big Beautiful Women group where the theme of the group and the friendships in it were, “I’m a big woman and I believe that I am beautiful and there are plenty of people out there that believe that I am beautiful as well.” I would have distanced myself. I would not have found that sort of mindset helpful to where I was trying to go. I was always the girl who looked in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw. I still have issues with what I see in the mirror sometimes because of the excess skin issues. But I was never ok with being morbidly obese, I was never accepting of it in that regard. When it comes to the men in the movie, to be honest I sort of felt that they were unfairly painted in a negative light. Would I have stayed with a man who wasn’t happy with my decision to lose weight and seek a happier, healthier life? No I wouldn’t have. I would have left someone who didn’t support my decisions. That said, if I had married someone who was specifically a “Fat Admirer” or someone who had a fetish for big girls, and I suddenly decided that wasn’t who I wanted to be anymore, I would leave out of respect and love for them. I would look at it and go “Who am I to expect him to give up what he wants and what makes him happy because I have suddenly changed my mind about what I want and what makes me happy and our wants and needs in the relationship no longer parallel each other.”

I wrote down a couple of quotes from the movie that stood out to me as I was watching it and there was one thing in particular that I took away from this movie that really touched me. One of the women talked about how she felt about herself when she looked at her before and after photos. – I have often discussed that I feel completely disassociated from the woman in my before photos. I think one of the biggest relationship changes that we go through in our weight loss journey is our relationship with ourselves. The thing that stood out the most for me in the movie was one of the women saying that when she looks at her before picture, she is thankful to the woman in it, grateful to her for finding a way to protect her. This was one of those lightbulb moments for me. I always looked at my before picture and thought “What was I thinking, why did I ruin my body like that, why did I let me addiction to food get so out of hand.” Today as I am packing up for the OAC Your Weight Matters 2013 Convention, I pulled out the before picture I usually take with me and as I looked at it for the first time I thought to myself…

“What an amazing woman I am that I found a self-defense mechanism that could get me through the horrible abuse I endured. I learned to have relationships with food because food didn’t hurt me when everyone else around me did” We talk about building proverbial walls around ourselves when we have been hurt and having to take them down brick my brick when it is time to start letting people back in. Fat cells were my bricks and I built a very thick wall around myself to protect me from the physical, sexual, mental and emotional abuse that I went through as child and later, a teenager. The truth is, that wall of fat cells probably saved my life a dozen times over. It protected me during a time that I didn’t have healthy people in my life and when the time came, and I was ready, I started taking those fat cells down just like we talk about taking our walls down brick by brick. I don’t think I will ever look at my before picture the same again. I don’t ever think I will look at the woman in those photos with so much disdain, disgust and dislike. That is probably one of the move valuable things I could have learned and this documentary empowered me with that.

I’d definitely recommend the film to anyone who fights a battle with Obesity. It’s a different perspective than I think we are used to seeing, but I think that is healthy. Seeing things from different perspective sometimes helps us see ourselves more clearly. Putting ourselves in other people’s shoes and asking ourselves what we would do, often times gives us a glimpse into who we are that we might not have seen before.

In closing I think All of Me is a documentary that can open doors and discussions about relationships with others and with ourselves and how they change as we battle obesity. It also made me realize that even though I think I am an open book for everyone to read, I am sure I haven’t quite put “All of me” on there… and that’s probably a good thing. I have to save a few things for the book I’ll write someday, right?

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One Response to All of Me Movie Screening – A Post RNY Patient Perspective

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  • Joy Muller says:

    I’m very intrigued by this film and hope to see it one day. I do think that no matter how “evolved” and “self-love” filled we think we are as obese people there are still emotional changes that accompany the physical changes. And I think telling that part of the story is very important and something that is not spoken about nearly enough.

    I also agree that who we surround ourselves with really defines us and our journeys. I don’t think I could be particularly close with anyone that didn’t support my athletic endeavors at least minimally. I find that most of my close friends have some very main things in common with me, including running. It is a huge part of who I have developed into in my post-bariatric life.

    And, yes, keeping some of our stuff to ourselves is not a bad idea. Being open and honest and shining a light into the darkness of obesity is important but it’s not always helpful to shine it into every single crevice of our personal lives.

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Jaime "Pandora" Williams

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