Paula Bennett – Take a Bow!

Paula Bennett going public with her decision to have bariatric surgery at the end of last year was incredibly brave. To be so in the public eye, and a politician as well… I could just picture the keyboard warriors, the haters and the trolls rubbing their little hands together with glee. She should never have had to make this public, but she said she felt it was better to get ahead of it before people started asking questions. Why anyone feels it is their business to comment on the choices another person makes about their health or life is beyond me. For all we know, this surgery may have saved her life. Why is it our business if someone is attempting to live a healthier life, to be there for their families, and to feel better about themselves? Paula is still just a woman, with a family and friends who love her, wanting to take control of her life and health. People need to remember that. She is human. She has the same struggles as many of us!!

In this world of social media ruling our lives, nothing is sacred. The weight loss journey after bariatric surgery is a process, and can be a huge adjustment that needs time to become the ‘new normal’. As great as it is that she has made bariatric surgery a topic of conversation in the last week, people are going to constantly talk to her (or behind her back) about her weight – how much she has lost? How much she is going to lose? How much does she weigh now? When is she going to stop losing weight? Is she supposed to be eating that since she had surgery? – Whether she likes it or not, she has become the poster girl for bariatric surgery by being so open about her choice.

So when I say, Paula take a bow – it’s because doing what she has done by speaking so publically is reducing the STIGMA attached to weight loss surgery. She is just like anyone who has struggled with their weight for years. She has tried many times to lose weight, gone up and down in weight, and is sick of the constant battle. That alone will resonate with so many people. She does not fit the preconceived idea many of the fat-ists and trolls believe about overweight people – that they are lazy, dumb, stupid, aren’t able to put down the pies. The comments people make on any article online about weight loss surgery is just disgusting. I call it Fatism. And it’s a nasty ‘ism’. It’s isolating and lonely, and bloody degrading. Overweight people KNOW they are overweight. They beat themselves up worse than any dickhead on the internet ever could.

And we wonder why people keep their surgery journey to themselves and don’t tell anyone… people don’t make it public knowledge for a fear of being judged, in case they ‘fail’ again, for fear people will think they have ‘cheated’ or taken the ‘easy’ way out. There is nothing easy about choosing to have bariatric surgery. If Paula making her decision public helps just one person take empowerment over their own life and health, then good on her. Reducing the stigma around having a bariatric procedure is crucial. We are fighting a losing battle with obesity and type II diabetes in New Zealand, and more and more people will seek out bariatric surgery to help combat these issues. Making people hide and feel ashamed about choosing to have bariatric surgery has to stop. People should be proud of what they are doing for their health. All of you should take a bow!

You don’t need to feel isolated and alone going through your journey. We are committed to providing you support for every stage of your journey. Check out our TWC Bariatric Support Programmes.

Vanessa X