In the latest issue of Good Housekeeping, Helen Phillips, who was last season's Biggest Loser winner, is on the cover looking fit and thin. I can relate to her because she is in her forties and was about the same starting weight as me, although she is a good four inches taller. I have to say that she looks great - she's gained a bit of weight back from the sickly-thin 117 pounds that won her the prize, and is now, according to the magazine article, a "healthy size six and weighs a more realistic 128 pounds."
What caught my eye right from the start was her cover picture. Doesn't she look fabulous? Her arms are thin, and her tummy is perfectly trim. I was impressed, and I have to say, more than a bit envious, as I have been struggling to camouflage the blob above my waist that has made its presence known. I'm not sure if the blob is fat, flab or excess skin, but the more I shrink the more it stands out. So imagine my surprise when I read, deep into the article, that Helen said she has excess skin on her torso and will need surgery to remove it. Now that's a personal decision and I don't fault her one way or the other for making it. But take a look at her cover picture again. There is no excess skin showing on her torso. Are Spanx that good? I doubt it...which means that Good Housekeeping photoshopped that picture. I shouldn't say that I'm shocked - shoot, fashion magazines photoshop skinny models to look downright bony - but for cryin' out loud, this is someone who has lost an entire person's worth of weight. In her forties! There is bound to be some fallout on her body, and yet you wouldn't know it by looking at her picture.
I know we all want to put our best side forward to the public, especially after years of not feeling good when we see photographs of our formerly overweight selves, but it sets an unrealistic expectation for those of us who do manage to lose a large amount of weight. For example, my aforementioned blob...it's showing up in most of the clothes that I have...knit tops are clinging to it, jeans that fit everywhere else are squishing it upwards and making it even bigger...it's becoming something that I'm focusing on. And I don't like that - neither the hyper-focus, nor the way it looks. After having a mini-breakdown in front of Kara, she got me in touch with a friend of hers who is the manager of our local Talbots. Long story short, I had someone who knows clothes pull the right ones for me that fit better and took what I felt was a neon sign pointing to my stomach and made it go away. Don't get me wrong - the blob is still there. And you would certainly see it if I wore a top like Helen is wearing in that picture. But with a pair of pants that have a different waistband, and a well-cut blouse, it's gone into hiding, while I continue to try and make it disappear through diet and exercise.
I guess what I want to say is that we're all in this together. Pretending that a post-extreme-weight-loss body is perfect is unfair, and really, sets us up for disappointment and possible weight regain. There is nothing wrong with posing for pictures with your body in the best light, but don't go there with the photoshopping, please.