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Personal Space: Life After Lap-Band Surgery

Have I become invisible or are people just aiming right at me? It seems to me that in a crowd these days, whether at the grocery store or 5th Avenue in New York City, people will walk right into me if I don't step out of the way. Or they stand so close to me I have to step backward in order to breathe.

Now, I have never felt that I have such a small area of personal space. A busy street or mall never bothered me. I could walk through the crowd at a museum or a concert without being trampled. Only since losing 110 pounds have I begun to notice how the shrinking personal space has begun to bother me.

When I weighed 277 pounds I always felt emotionally invisible; that no one truly saw me or knew I was there. But while I felt emotionally invisible, I knew I was always physically there. I didn't get bumped into, people didn't stand so close to me that I felt the need to step away in order to maintain personal space. In the mall or on a San Francisco street, people gave me a wide berth. Bus passengers would hesitate before sitting down next to me judging just how much space they would have for their ride home.

When a thin person sees a fat person, regardless if the fat person is attractive or not, a bit of uneasiness runs through the thin person; "If I wasn't working out everyday that could be me." "Thank goodness I don't look like that." "Ok, salad again for lunch."

According to ABC News, the American public spends $33 billion on the ever elusive quest for non-fatness. The billions are spent on fat-free products, exercise equipment, gym memberships, and weight loss programs. Spent on anything and everything not to become that fat person they see on the bus.So it is no surprise that when the one thing they work so hard to avoid is right in front of them they steer clear of it.

As a newly thin person I see the overweight person. I wish I could stop them and tell them how I did it-- that I was once overweight and have broken free.

But I can't. So instead I make eye contact. I smile. I sit next to them on the bus without hesitation.

But it is a different life I am in now. Today I feel like I am physically invisible when walking those crowded streets, and that people are going to literally walk right into me if I don't step out of the way. I feel like they no longer see me; or maybe they are just no longer ill at ease. Maybe I am now like everyone else and I need to get the hell out of the way if I don't want to get run over.

Robin McCoy was banded on February 3, 2004. She has reached her weight loss goal of 110 pounds. Robin is Vice-President and Senior Writer for Lapband Lifestyle, a resource and support group for LapBand patients.



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