Tuesday, May 29, 2012


This world tries to label everyone and everything, forcing things into categories, compartments and stereotypes that do not define who someone is but what they are expected to be.  Often, as clinicians, we are forced to diagnose someone to appease insurance companies to pay for our services when we truly do not want to attach a label to a client for fear that they may live up to or grow into a diagnosis.  I see this with my work with children, where parents want to get them X diagnosis so they can qualify for Y services and get Z check.  It happens, all the time, every day, and it's not fair to the child or client.

Recently, I read a blog post by someone I truly like as a member of the WLS community about the high school labels we fit into here in this community.  I also read a response to that post by another dear friend, and responded to her post online.  I respect both of these women dearly, their voices are valuable and their personalities are bold enough to influence many.  However, I've seen what goes on between groups and cliques and I am appalled that so many people with similar goals can not get along and accept each other and their differences with loving kindness.

I believe part of this confusion is the name, or rather, "Label" attached to one of these groups and the misconception that what it stands for is "Bad." While one could misconstrue that the group of women (and men) are trying to defy the norms of weight loss surgery, that's not it.  The philosophy behind the group is that we are not the "norm", we do not want to be the norm, and we do not fit into a pigeon-holed category of post-ops. It's that we are each an individual, first and foremost, and secondly, we stand for finding who you are before and after surgery.

Life changes, always. But life changes a lot after weight loss surgery.  Relationships end.  Friendships end. New beginnings and new relationships come and go, but bonds with new family, brothers and sisters, per se, in the weight loss surgery community are established.  The comradeship established in a group that embraces being different holds steady for those who join, and the Mothership is a powerhouse of experience and support. The group is a powerhouse of EXPERIENCE and SUPPORT.

The group does not stand for condoning bad behavior.   If you believe that, your bubble will never burst, you will live in it and think that perfectionism is possible. It's not. I hate to burst the bubble, but no one is perfect.  When we learn that we must accept ourselves and out imperfections we can move toward a happier, less stressful life without depression and anxiety.  When we can accept everyone, even those who think differently, act differently, and speak differently and who are comfortable with themselves, we show we are accepting ourselves, our faults, and our own issues.  We all have issues.

We all will struggle with obesity for the rest of our lives. "Fuel" the Ani DiFranco song keeps coming to my mind about all of this...

"and they say that alcoholics are always alcoholics
even when they're as dry as my lips for years
even when they're stranded on a small desert island
with no place within 2,000 miles to buy beer
and i wonder
is he different?
is he different?
has he changed? what's he about?...
or is he just a liar with nothing to lie about?"

So, have you changed who you are and accepted people for who they are in your journey? Where are you with your journey?  Do you still judge others negatively because you don't feel good about yourself?  It's hard not to in this world.  I admitted recently to my mother that I get sad when I see someone who is obese, not because they are obese, but because I always want to help them.  However, I know from my obese self, if someone like me, at my size now, were to approach me, a complete stranger, to try to talk to me about my weight problem.... tears would flow like a river.  This is why I am a counselor.  My clients come to me for help. I don't approach them.  I don't recruit.  I just am here when they decide they are ready for change and want support, therapy and loving kindness.  That's all I can do, and I continue to be all I can be.  I specialize in trying to remain neutral.  It's tough sometimes, and it makes me sad to see people who have the same goals to support and help this community pick at petty issues that divide and separate, rather than join and conquer. 


  1. I have never been to your site before. Evidently that is my loss.

    I have to thank Beth for linking this blog.

    You have peeked into my mind and heart and wrote the words that are there.

    I am a "Bad" girl and so very thankful that I am. It's where I receive support, acceptance and realistic advice on how adjust to a different lifestyle.

    I have seen women ask questions that have been asked so many times by others. Yet there is never a feeling of impatience when that same question is answered for the 5th, 10th or 20th time.

    Someone "falls off the wagon"? Well, Bad Girls (and tokens) are there to offer support and encouragement to get right back on track. No guilt trips allowed.

    There are so many posts that begin with the words that this may be TMI, yet nothing in this "bad" group is.

    It's a safe place. A place where unlimited support is offered.

    It truly saddens me that there are so many that will judge this group without knowing the true story of it.

    It's not always WLS related either. We offer support on dating, marriage, pregnancy, poop, roller coaster emotions, food, exercise, vitamins, protein, pets, decorating, traveling, support garments, anxiety, sleeping problems, kids... the list goes on and on.

    Bariatric Bad Girls Club is all about support, education and advocacy. In my book, that's a good thing.

    Thank you so very much for what you posted.

    There is so much truth in it.

    Toni Lee (proud member of BBGC)

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate your thankfulness for having found me, feel free to share with others. I don't recruit or market myself because I feel people will find me when they need me!
      We all fall off the wagon at times. The point is to pick yourself back up again as soon as you can and keep on learning from your journey. As long as you aren't repeating the same mistakes over and over again, you're doing alright! If you are repeating the same mistakes, then how committed are you to your health. You have to ask yourself that question when you're repeating the same bad behavior and making the same poor choices over and over again. This journey is about finding yourself, accepting the changing that will benefit you, and growing into a new, better you!

    2. BTW, you're totally right about the good, the bad and the ugly, and the happy and unrelated things we celebrate in the group. I tell ya, it takes a lot to be able to talk about the gross stuff . I always know when my support group people are getting comfortable, because their questions become more graphic. It's educational, but TMI sometimes!

  2. Yes, we in the US have a relentless need to label people and put them in little boxes. I don't know if this is a human issue or something unique to us. I I just know it's annoying as all get-out. Especially to someone like me with 50 million interests and friends in all sorts of groups with all sorts of labels.

    I just don't see labeling people and categorizing them according to a small sub-set of who they are as providing any kind of value. I also think that when people do this, they often have to kind of stretch some of the definitions and stuff a few round pegs into square boxes to make it all look as neat and tidy as it really isn't. So not only does it serve no useful purpose, but it actually can be harmful especially if it results in dividing people or causes people to ignore who they really are in an effort to fit in the "right" box.

    1. It can be extremely harmful to label someone, because it they are going through something emotional and trying at a young age and they get the label of a personality disorder, they will not trying to not be that, they will try to live up to what that is because they are seeing definition, rather than finding themselves and creating their own definition. Anytime I see a young client and a psychiatrist has put a label on them (especially personality and mood disorders) they tend to use that label to justify their behavior, rather than own their mistakes and learn from them.