Jacqueline Adan says she’s been overweight all her life, and had always avoided going to the beach or pool. After losing 350 pounds, though, she decided it was time to change that on a recent vacation in Mexico.
“I was nervous to take my cover up off and to walk into the pool or walk on the beach,” the California preschool teacher wrote on Instagram. “I still felt like that same 500 pound girl… then it happened. A couple sitting by the pool started laughing and pointing at me and making fun of me as soon as I took my cover-up off.”
This was the same familiar scenario she’d faced for years.
“It was pretty rare for me to go anywhere where I would have to put on a bathing suit and put myself in a vulnerable situation like that,” Adan tells Yahoo Lifestyle. When she did, she could hear children and adults laugh and make comments about her weight. “If my family or friends were around and they heard and said, ‘Oh, my God, that’s so mean,’ I would just laugh it off. I’d be so embarrassed that I’d pretend it didn’t bother me. Then later when I was by myself, that’s when I would bawl my eyes out.”
This time was different. Adan has been on what she calls a journey since 2012, when she realized she was more than 500 pounds. Through diet and exercise, she gradually lost more than half her body weight. Last year, before she decided to begin several surgeries to remove her excess skin, she began to blog about what she’d been through. Like other body-positive bloggers, she rejects the idea that all people need to lose weight to be beautiful and happy, but she says that her own weight was holding her back.
“When I was over 500 pounds, I was not happy, I was not confident, I did not love myself, I didn’t take care of myself,” she admits. “So that’s why I personally felt I needed to change. Through my journey of losing weight, I gained so much too — [learning] how to love myself, how to take care of myself, what made me happy. No matter what your size/shape/weight is, if you’re taking care of yourself and you’re happy, that’s what matters.”
Her decision to have skin removal surgery came because the skin was causing her both physical and emotional pain.
“I was getting back and neck issues, rashes,” she says. “You still have all this stuff that you’re carrying around that’s a visual reminder of your past.”
Her surgeon wants her to recover completely from the operations on her arms and torso before surgery on her legs and breasts. In the meantime, she still faces down ignorance from onlookers like the ones in Mexico.
“I took a deep breath, smiled and walked into the pool,” she said on Instagram. “To be honest, yes, it bothered me. But I was not going to let people like that affect me anymore! I am not going to let what other people think of me stop me from living my life. They do not know me.”
Adan says she’s not a confrontational person, but if she did decide to speak to the people who laughed at her, this is what she would do: “I wish I would just go give them a hug,” she tells Yahoo. “Honestly, I feel like that’s what they would need is love. How can you treat someone like that? I don’t feel like I have to justify myself to people like that or try to explain myself. Or explain why my legs look a certain way or why I’m still carrying all this excess skin. I would just want to spread the love, and hopefully they can start spreading love instead of negativity too.”
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