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The Insecurities of a Former Sex-Worker

images4F2VYH9PAs I sit on the precipice of some very serious surgery (Gastric Banding) I ask myself why am I doing this?
I already know how I got here; since a recent accident I developed a hip injury which limits my ability to exercise. Add to this some medication that increases appetite and hey presto I’m verging obesity, but 20kg shy of morbidly obese.
Let us first check my facts….. To be eligible for this surgery you have to have a BMI of at least 35, or a BMI of at least 30 with one or more obesity related diseases – http://www.gastricbandingprocedure.com.au/is-gastric-banding-for-you
I am 5’7 and am currently 84 kgs, thus I have a BMI of 30-31 which is right on the first step of obese ladder. I do have arthritis of the hips (no doubt a curse from my working days. Athletes get arthritis in their knees and ankles, broken down working girls get it in their hips), so I do have an obesity related health concern. But still I am only a size 14!
I could lie and say….. Oh this surgery is all about my arthritis and has very little to do with my appearance and self-esteem, but that is utter crap. Fuck my arthritis, I just hate myself fat. My self-loathing seems to hark back as long as I can remember. I have it in my head that being aesthetically attractive is an essential element of me. Much like being polite, or respecting the elderly, it is simply drummed into my DNA, my cognition. The feminist in me knows that I am dead wrong, the rational Annika, knows my thinking is entirely flawed and yet this perception remains.
When I ask myself where it comes from I am transported back to my childhood and I watch my mother labour in her muumuu, carrying at least 100 kilograms on his tiny 5’2 frame. I see her feet that have lost all their arch, they have been pounded down. She has heels that are so dry they resemble a desert with deep cracks of dry skin. God knows that she can’t reach her own feet to rub moisturiser into them so that became my role of an evening after our shop closed at 9.30pm.
I watched her sweat as only an obese person can, her dresses where stained dark under the sleeves with perspiration. I never saw her naked so I was spared the impression of her heavily dimpled thighs, but I did see the purple scars running like train tracks up her legs. But she was my mum and I loved her no matter what she looked like, I just wish my father had been as kind.
After my mother’s second set of twins, she gained all the weight and never lost it. It was during this same time that my father developed a wondering eye, and hands that had no self-discipline. His transgressions were always much younger and much lighter women, more often than not of the Oriental persuasion. This experience shapes the mindset I hold today. At the time I was fierce in my desire to not cecum to my parent’s heavy-set genes. I would participate in every sport I could. I jogged every day, I limited my calorie intake, at times I even abused pharmaceuticals to combat my hunger and pre-disposition to be that little more chunky than the other girls.
It was not just my internal voice telling me to prioritise my physical attractiveness. My father told me that my future depended on my ability to attract a good husband, and that came down to external beauty. The lessons didn’t stop there, my science teacher famously told me that I needn’t study because with my looks I would never have to work a day in my life.
Years later when I was denied work in the seasonal Sunshine Coast I found that thanks to my looks I would never be without a steady stream of bloody good income. This mantra of high praise for my appearance became a daily verbal confirmation; “you are soo stunning, my wife had your physique before the kids came along”. “You are so sexy, I can’t get you out of my head”. My livelihood depended on my maintaining an optimum appearance for close to 20 years. So how do I now un-learn all of that?
When I hung up my heels for good, I secretly wanted to rush out and eat all the foods that I had been denied for the last two decades. But I didn’t I was single and my mindset told me that in order to attract a hubby of the calibre I wanted I had to maintain no more than a size 10 frame. My craziness was confirmed when I attracted the man I chose to marry. While he has a beautiful soul he is still very superficial, his first wife was an aerobics instructor and his previous girlfriend was a Miss Australia contender. He zeroed in on me the moment our eyes met, and I hold no allusions that if we met today the attraction would be very different. Today, in my current shape I probably wouldn’t even get a handshake. This plays on my mind terribly.
Ten thousand client compliments all telling me that they seek out the beautiful, but bore of the less than perfect, feeds my insecurity. My dad’s dalliances dictates my thinking that men will stray away from the well-padded wife to seek solace in the skinny mistress.
I want my husband to always want me, always find me attractive. I want to look in a mirror and be proud of the reflection, no matter the personal cost or sacrifice. I look at bigger woman than me and see their beauty abounding. I just love Oprah and think that Adel is just stunning, but then I realise that I idolise them for more than their beauty. I see them as well rounded creatures with drive and talent. So I ask myself am I well rounded, have I developed beyond just being an object of beauty? My honest answer is that 16 years of university has taught me that I have a brain, but that negative internal voice contradicts this praise with the idea that that is not a unique quality. My stand out quality has always been my looks, so when do you let that go?
I will always have many strengths, such as kindness, compassion, acceptance of the misunderstood, smarts and maturity. But deep in my soul I also want to be physically beautiful if it is in my power? Is that such a bad thing?
Hence I am undergoing this drastic surgery to rectify my physical appearance. Trust me, If there was a surgery to re-jig my thinking and cognition, I would sign up for that operation in a heartbeat, alas until that one is medially approved this is the option left to me.

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