American society, just like any other part of the world, has its conversational taboos. There are some things that you just do not talk about in front of polite company and it varies from culture to culture. One of the more interesting thing to note about that on the scale of taboo conversation topics, the discussion of a person’s weight is about on the same as the topic of sex. It is something that affects nearly everyone, you see and hear about it most in advertising, and celebrities are often put under the microscope as an example of the effects. This is especially true when the topic of weight loss surgery comes up.
The Current State of Weight Loss Surgery Conversation
Unless people have gone through it or have performed it themselves in the medical field, not a lot of people talk about weight loss surgery, and even then it is often the subject of derision. There are even recorded surveys and polls in the US that point to most public attitude towards weight loss surgery is mostly negative. “The results of our national survey are, to our knowledge, the first to suggest that a large percentage of the population has negative attitudes toward weight loss surgery. The high prevalence of these attitudes potentially creates a difficult social environment for patients who opt for weight loss surgery. “
Normally the lack of a conversation, especially nationwide, isn’t much of a problem. After all if a taboo conversation isn’t relevant, then there isn’t much of a point talking about it. However 2/3rds of Americans fall under the definition of obese. It affects far too many people for the topic to be swept under the rug. There are also, health complications and other related factors, not talking about it is doing an incredible disservice to people that either want to understand weight loss surgery or have no clue that there are resources available to them.
So, if the conversation is taboo but it is much needed one, what can we do to break the silence?
How to Break the Silence About Weight Loss Surgery
- Realize that avoiding the topic is doing more harm than good.
Avoiding painful feelings, things that bring you anxiety and stress is a common response to negativity that turns into a habit over time. According to Psychologist Melanie A Greenberg, “[Avoidance] is an unconscious habit that worked in childhood when we didn’t have the skills or power to change the situation.” While it sounds like the right thing to do it often leads to more harmful behavior, bad coping mechanisms, addiction, and creates more anxiety and fear surrounding the situation. So before you delve into the conversation, you need to get yourself in the mindset for it.
- Talk to other people who are willing to share about the topic.
No matter the topic you will not have too hard of a time finding people that have or are going through situations similar to your own. This is because everyone wants to talk about themselves. It’s how we relate, and it gives us a boost of dopamine. No matter how obscure the topic or how much people are discouraged from it, you will always find someone who is willing to talk about their experiences. So, go out of your way to talk to someone who is willing to share about their weight loss surgery experience. If you are not comfortable speaking with another person, there are people who write blogs, host podcasts and publish books about their weight loss surgery.
- Don’t be afraid to share how you feel and what is happening with people close to you.
If you are going through the process yourself, and you know someone who is curious about weight loss surgery, talk about it. Find the right setting where both of you are comfortable, explain how the process is. Talk about all the positive and negative emotions surrounding your experience. Because weight loss surgery has its benefits and its drawbacks physically, emotionally, and in relationships.
- 4. Don’t Give Others Room for Insult or Misconception
It can be exhausting to tell your story multiple times. It can be outright irritating when people go out of their way to insult your appearance, or give you a backhanded compliment. Also, it can be a little scary to be the one directing the conversation. But here is the sad truth about conversation. Everyone talks. No one will let a platform or a space settle in silence for long. And if people who are going through weight loss surgery aren’t talking about it, then the people who either don’t mean well or who don’t know what they are talking about are going to be the only sources of information about weight loss surgery. And the last thing you and other people like you need is nothing but misinformation taking up space.