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Bariatric Surgery: More than just the “before and after” photos

Updated: Mar 17, 2023

I made the best decision of my life when I had the SADI operation in March 2022. By then, my weight had spiralled out of control, as I was gaining more and compounding year on year.

I come from a big family (oh, it sounds like a cliché!): three of my aunts are (were) morbidly obese, as I was. My one aunt died of complications related to her obesity. This scared me as I kept gaining weight and made me fearful that I will inevitably suffer the same fate. I ended up in ICU with a pulmonary embolism in August 2020 (not covid related), and again in January 2022. It just became too real for me.

Life before my SADI operation

However, the decision to have this life changing operation started long before I had pulmonary embolisms and for total different reasons. Looking back, I can now see a golden thread of this reason throughout my life: the manner in which people treated me as a fat person, and how I carried myself.

I was an average academic scholar, but mostly performed above my IQ. I excelled in sport. Even though I was not fat in school, I was always much heavier than others and had to work harder for acceptance, praise and inclusion.

After studying somatology and working in the beauty industry for a national corporate company, I was definitely more exposed to the prejudice and discrimination (intentionally or not) towards fat people. I was constantly overlooked for promotions, even though I always exceeded expectations and targets. It was often discussed that this company had a particular 'look' they believed the best representatives for their company would have. Because I did not fit that physical description, I had to work hard, and KEEP working harder to try and stay relevant and be considered for growth within the company.

Not only had I experienced this in my professional career, but also in my personal life.

People are uncomfortable or embarrassed to be around an obese person (lots of this has to do with their own issues too). On the other hand, people with lower self esteems loved having the “fat one” around as they felt better about themselves, less intimidated.

Taking a big step, forward

Now that I have lost a significant amount of weight and are continuing to loose more, the smallest things became very evident: In business, people want to associate with me more. In meetings, there is no need to demand respect, it comes naturally. In day to day life, I approached by strangers for a conversation and they even open doors for me! This never happened before. My own family are more comfortable around me. (They were always sensitive of how conversations with topics related to weight, food etc. where handled with me in the room).

I had my own internal changes too. I do not feel the need to overcompensate as much as I did before. In work and at home. Fat people tend to think we have to be happy with what we have or get from others and we tolerate disrespect in any form so easily. As I grow into this newer, stronger version of myself, I definitely also do not feel the need to prove myself so much anymore, and not to accept so little as before.

Bariatric Surgery has been life changing in so much more than just the before & after photos.

About the Author:

Brenda Thambe is passionate about empowering women by boosting their self-confidence and bravery through make-up. She had a SADI procedure in 2022 and is a passionate advocate for bariatric surgery in South Africa.

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