Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Before and After.

Ok, so this is what I meant to post about when I wrote the last one.

So maybe it sucks that this kid's body is getting displayed everywhere, but here's a before and after picture, courtesy of the awesome "Broken & Fabulous" zine. It's a type 1 diabetic kid in the 1920's, before and after insulin was discovered (and she was one of the lucky ones to get access to it in time). I'm sure some of you fellow diabetics have seen it before:
The above is just one of many reasons I don't respond well to pictures like this:
or this:

or people telling me how I look great after I've lost some weight (which this time, is largely due to high blood sugars, since I have definitely been exercising less and eating either similarly or more food and less healthy foods). So it is definitely not from being "healthier" this time, it's from being less healthy.

I have several issues with the prevalent "weight loss is always positive" idea, but this is just a part of why it's more complicated (medically/physically and emotionally/psychologically), and what it means to disappear or not disappear part of your body, what starvation means, etc. to me.


in search of balance said...

Even though I'm currently looking to lose weight, I absolutely agree. I hate when people tell me I look thinner, or that I look good because I've lost weight. Hate it. Before I was diagnosed, when I dropped 20 pounds for no reason and at 5'8 and 125 looked like an absolute skeleton, I got complement after complement and it freaked me out because I couldn't explain the weight loss and I was so tired and thirsty and looked like a stranger in the mirror. I associate looking like that with being / feeling close to dead.

Not only does my weight have zero bearing on what kind of person I am, weight loss was a marker of a disease which changed my whole life.

Araby62 said...

I remember when my now-husband first saw old photos of me. They were taken when I was 20 lbs. lighter, but way out of whack A1C-wise. Being unaware of diabetes at the time, he thought I looked great. It was hard for him to understand why I wasn't exactly the 'picture of health' back then.

On the other hand, my dad still gets very upset when I tell him I want to lose weight. My parents (like everyone's) were terrified when I lost so much weight before my diagnosis. It's still difficult for him to accept that losing weight is sometimes OK.

The media sure doesn't help anyone out, especially when they claim diabetes can be 'cured' by just dropping a few pounds. To me it's just another example of a quick fix for a problem with no simple solution.

Thanks for posting!

Wingman said...

Man I remember losing over 40 lbs prior to getting diagnosed - granted I was able to lose 6 more post diagnosis but that was through training and hard work not a weird body disorder.

PS - applying to MBA programs

Shannon said...

Jeff and I see thin diabetics as unhealthy because we suspect they're not taking all of the insulin they need.

My cousin has type 1 and was always very thin compared to what he should've been. He wasn't taking the amount of insulin that he should've and is now paying for it physically.

Amylia said...

Like Beth, I am trying to lose weight right now, but that is because I really am overweight. I hate it when people tell me I so good because I look thinner,I lost so much weight before diagnosis, I was down to 80 pounds. It was the first time I was ever skinny, and I would give anything I had to not go through that. It was awful. I hate hw being thin is associated with health. What a crock.
I know being overweight has health challenges, but being thin or skinny is no marker of good health unless you know the full story.

Minnesota Nice said...

Weight/health/body issues - all snarled together in overlapping shades of gray.

When I looked at the first set of pictures, I was startled by my feeling of gratitude for insulin. No matter how annoying "the grind" gets, I am alive ............(well, yes, and a major chubette right now.)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I was overweight when diagnosed with type 2 and had struggled with my weight for seven years prior. Before that, though, I looked awful most of the time. Way. Too. Skinny.

My body wants me at this weight. I know it does. It's not the most ideal weight, but it is what works for me. Blood sugar is still under control. People tell me I look great. It hurts to see others who (seem to me) are the same weight not liking who they are.

(btw, I see Fat Rant on the sidebar. Awesome.)

Maniacally Monday said...

I have a gazillion things to say in response to this. A gazillion and all of them are stuck inside my brain. I love that first picture. And I agree about the before/afters. and i have so many issues around weight and bodies and what it means, especially as a type2 type of person with diabetes. I'll come back with a response when i can be articulate and not just YES YES YES.

ms.cripchick said...

have you heard of bint who blogs at my private casbah? she writes about similar issues (people thinking weight loss is always positive and it being a struggle to gain weight), i think you guys would really connect :)


Katie I. said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I know exactly what you mean about the weight / bg struggle. Just the other day, when I was looking in the mirror after getting dressed for work, I said to my husband, "This is great. Good A1C, big butt. Bad A1C, little butt." That has been the story of my life, it seems. When I was in high school, I lost about 15 lbs fairly quickly and everyone was full of compliments. Too bad my A1C was over 9 at the time. When I was a freshman in college, I lost weight while everyone was gaining the Freshman 15, and again got lots of compliments. My A1C? 9.2. And I'm not the least bit surprised at the recent news articles on "diabulimia." Now, my A1C is good, but I constantly feel as though I'm on the brink of not being able to fit into my best jeans, and I feel guilty for having to treat lows because I try to watch my calories so closely.
What a tangled mess it is. At least it's comforting to know that we all share this frustration.

Anonymous said...

I agree. I hate that thin automatically equals health to people and when they tell you look good after losing weight.. I've had that happen, too, from high blood sugars and I understand the way it is.

Nicole P said...


I'm glad it finally arrived. :)

Look forward to seeing the photos, etc.

k2 said...

I've been a T1 diabetic for 30 years and I've never seen the picture of that little girl from long ago.
Thank you for posting it.
I was diagnosed at 8 & was 15 to 20 lbs under weight at the time.
Type 1 and weight loss can be such an oxy moron. When we are out of control, we are a single digit size and are told how great we look.
When we are tight control, our weight goes up and all sudden everyone notices & tells us what we should not eat.

~Suzanne~ said...

I know this is kind of late, but great post!!! It is so true! Compliments make us feel good even when we are hurting ourselves and let's face it...this weight issue is hard on us when the "outside world" doesn't understand it. It is what held me back for so long...and it is still so hard!! Hope you return to the blogosphere soon =:~)