Reader Submission: How I Got Over Loose Skin After Losing 92 Pounds

November 9, 2016  |  

By Tennielle Clark

Flap, flap, flap, flap, flap, do you hear that? It’s the sound of loose skin slapping your body as you do jumping jacks; jumping jacks of pain.

Having gastric sleeve surgery changed my life. I lost 92 pounds and felt like I could finally see who I really was. When I wore clothes, I would graciously accept the compliments from people who would tell me “ You look so good,” “ I see you boo,” and “Look how small you are!”

Tennielle Clark Before and After

Tennielle Clark Before and After

To the complimenter, I smiled and would say thank you. In my mind, I would think, “If they only knew” Everyday I would go home and take off the spanx, the full back-support bra, the tank top, and finally my shirt. I tried very hard to conceal the lie of what I really looked like. I eventually stopped accepting the compliments and started telling people I didn’t deserve them. Once I took a “friend” into a bathroom and started disrobing just to prove to her that I was living a svelte lie. Why? I have no idea. I guess I just needed people to know that I wasn’t a fraud. Instead, all it did was make my skin the constant topic of concern.

After a follow-up appointment with my surgeon, I showed him my skin and the pictures of what I look like with all of my clothes on. I remember reading his expressions to see if he was going to feel sorry for me or — actually, I don’t know why I surveyed his face. Maybe I just needed him to see what I saw and acknowledge the disgusting truth of my loose skin. Every follow-up appointment ended with a discussion of this unwanted side effect of my weight loss surgery. Every single one. My loose skin became an obsession.

I became hyper-focused on my skin, so much so that when in conversation I would watch the person’s eyes dart to my arm whenever I raised it, feeling insecure. I worked on how to pose, so that folks wouldn’t notice my flabby arms. I wore shirts that covered just enough skin that the truth wouldn’t be exposed. I avoided being touched, as best I could. I can’t tell you the hugs I missed out on. The high fives of celebration. The moments I couldn’t enjoy myself because I just knew that people were looking at my skin.

I have always wanted to wear short-sleeved shirts at the gym when kickboxing, but I could never bring myself to do it because I knew that with every jab my arms would whip around and creates ripples that could move mountains. I couldn’t concentrate on working out and making sure that folks weren’t looking at my loose skin. I was consumed.

By Tennielle Clark

It would be ah-mazing if I had $14,000. It would change my life if I could make love to my husband without a top. Better yet if we could get so lost in the moment that I would forget the top altogether. But no. I’m too concerned with holding my jiggly parts. I hold my jiggly parts so that he won’t have to see or hear the flapping of my skin. My attention is not on the moment and, silently, I give in to being a pillow princess.

My husband has made me feel like I am the most beautiful woman in the world despite my issues with my skin. He touches my body like a man who loves his woman. Sometimes, he fights to keep the light on so he can look at me. I mean really look at me. I hate every minute of it. In the dark, I am a size 10, with soft skin and a small waste. In my mind, when the light is on, I am a deflated Pillsbury doughboy. I am unleavened yeast. I am Gumby, left outside in the hot Atlanta sun. I am not present. It hurt him and it started to hurt the intimacy in our marriage. I tried everything, but I tired from running to turn the light off first, from making sure I had the right shirt on, or being satisfied with not making too many sounds with my body.

My body. My body. My body. The notion and the absurdity that I didn’t acknowledge it as such is strange, don’t you think? I was actually apologizing to people for my body. If my arm touched theirs in church, I would apologize. If someone put their hands on my arm, I would mentally apologize. I silently apologized for every moment someone brushed up against me, passed me, or simply saw my arms moving. I apologized. It was absurd.

The more I thought about my behavior, the more I realized I can’t apologize for almost 24 months of ZUMBA, kickboxing, walking, running, cycling, weight training, dropping pant sizes and kicking a–. The more I thought about it, I realized that my body has carried me through a surgery, rapid weight loss, moderate weight gain, muscles, painful childhood memories, disappointments, hurts and hangups. I don’t remember the exact day, but eventually I stopped apologizing for my loose skin. I didn’t say that I was totally okay with it, I just stopped apologizing for it. I decided to wear my arms out, in tank tops and sleeveless tops. I decided to live and because of that my life changed. The intimacy in my marriage changed. The openness, the truth of who I am changed. I made a decision that I am going to wear what I want because the reality is I am smaller, faster, stronger than what they see. My body is what it is. I worked hard for the muscles I have and GOT-Damb it, I’m going to show it; loose skin and all.

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