I got a haircut yesterday. God, did it make me feel better. I lost a fair amount of hair after surgery—the stylist pointed out where it's started to grow back in, but in the meantime, my ends were dry and frayed, the top was flat, the thinness was making me crazy...it was not a good scene. The second I walked into a sleek SoHo curl salon, I felt better—all those fluffy, bouncy, shiny curls! (It was also nice not to feel so out of place there—not to struggle with a robe or cringe through the cut where I had to look at myself in the mirror overflowing the chair, etc.) The cut was a good one, too—brings back my bounce and texture, frames my face nicely—and I walked out into the world again feeling much, much better about myself.
So I put up a selfie on Instagram, which is unusual for me to do (no, not on my WLS account—on my "real" one). And much like the only time since surgery that I've changed my Facebook photo, it got a lot of attention. A lot of likes. A lot of comments. And I've noticed that men have started clicking Like on my pictures again these days.
That attention makes me feel really awkward. For the first flurry of Likes I feel "oh hey, my cute hair!" and then as they keep rolling in I go "oh, this isn't about my cute hair at all," and I deflate. I hate the thought that people might think that I'm specifically pointing out my own weight loss and asking for positive reinforcement about it. I hate the thought of people clicking Like on my face all "good for you!" Nope. No thanks. Do not want. The reactions make me feel retroactively angry, but also more importantly they make me feel bad in the moment—scrutinized, stripped of agency and personhood, reduced. What I want is to be left utterly alone; I want people to know that it's none of their business unless I choose to discuss it with them. But I know obviously that people react independently of what I want, and that any big change—especially a change from something socially unacceptable to something socially prized—makes it hard to avoid a big reaction. And one of the reasons I've posted a couple of pictures is specifically to ward off the shock reaction that might occur when I actually see those people in real life—at this point, even though I don't always see it, I think there's a big enough difference that that might happen (it's happened a few times now). They're innoculation so that you don't have to tell me all about it when you see me, and I just want to get it all over with as soon as possible.
But it's going to get worse from here. What's happening now is that I've gone from invisible-fat to normal-fat, I think, but in the event I also go from there to not-fat, well. I'm going to have to buckle up for a wild ride. And that's what's coming up. The next few months would start to take me there if things keep going as they've been going, and it's hard for me to know how I'll react and how I'll cope. I have pretty strong faith that I can, in fact, cope—my shrink, boyfriend, and friends have really been wonderful about holding my ambivalence—but that doesn't mean I'm looking forward to having to. WLS patients talk about the letdown when people stop being like "OMG!" but I just can't wait for that moment. I hope that means I'll have an easier settling-in process, when this feels like an irritation being removed rather than a motivator evaporating. If it evaporated tomorrow, it wouldn't be too soon.