People treat me differently now that I'm not obese. It was something I had heard from post-ops before surgery and prepared myself for. The overwhelming majority of that change is positive. It mostly makes me happy, but there is a downside. It makes it very clear how much nicer some people are to "typical" weight people and how much many ignore or are even rude to overweight and obese people.
Maybe it's because they identify more with a typical weight person? Birds of a feather flock together? But weight isn't someone's identity. Yet studies how that people, even highly educated people, identify overweight people as lazy, undisciplined, and sloppy.
Complete strangers are now much more likely to hold a door open for me. More strangers start conversations with me, or tell me to go ahead of them in line. The number of smiles I get from strangers has increased - and I've always been one to smile at strangers, so that hasn't been the source of the change. I think it's just now that more of them are looking at me long enough to see that I'm smiling, so they smile back. In general, it makes the world feel like a happier, friendlier place.
Peers I see invite me to join them more often - I'm not talking about friends. I'm talking about co-workers and people I know from my kid's schools. I don't usually take them up on the offers, because it usually involves lunch out or drinks or something else that would be difficult/ impossible for me post-op. But it's really nice to be asked.
Friends have also changed - although much less. These were people who knew and loved me at my heaviest. They accepted me as is then, and they accept me now - just with more compliments! I can't tell you what it's like after most of a lifetime of being unhappy with how I looked to get compliments telling me I look "cute", "tiny", "healthy", or shockingly "hot!".
There is a small minority, however, where the change is not positive. I had been warned about this by WLS veterans. They said that sometimes if you have a gang of girls, and you suddenly change your appearance by dropping a lot of weight, your social "position" in the group can become unstable. Instead of being the supportive fat friend, or the funny fat friend, or the fat friend that makes the pretty girls look better in comparison, they don't know how to "classify" you in the hierarchy. They might even feel challenged for what they see as their role as the "pretty" one.
I didn't expect to face that - partly because I don't hang out with gangs of girls. I tend to see my friends one at a time. I was never one to go out to a bar with in a group. Frankly, I wasn't one to go out to a bar! Funny thing was, I was part of a gang of girls, I just hadn't realized it. The neighborhood bus stop moms.
I live in a great neighborhood. The day I moved in two different neighbors came over with brownies and cookies. Another sent her girls over to show my boys around the neighborhood. My next door neighbor came over and introduced herself and offered her help. After the quiet community with a lot of retirees I used to live in, it was a little startling.
Next week, 2/16/2013 is my first "surgiversary". I can't wait to celebrate! I told my husband to hold off on any flowers or anything for Valentine's Day, I would rather celebrate on the 16th (and it will be cheaper - bonus!). I have my 1 year post-op next Wednesday with my surgeon and I'm really looking forward to it.