We spoke to Cynthia James and other women about their love, body image, and all things that affect women. We share their stories on #MyTruth. If you would like to tell us your story, share it with us here.
Here is Cynthia's story:
I was convinced to believe I am fat during my primary school years. I was in Grade 4. It was during an inter-school sports day where I was the preferred one to win the high jump competition and knew that I could win the trophy that day.
I was left in the competition with another pupil, and we were the last two on the field to compete against one another. Just before I attempted to jump, the father of the other girl shouted out loud over the field, "Your a** is too big; you'll never make it."
He called me fat and I believed him. I fell out of the competition of the day and many others that followed. It was very difficult for me to carry on with athletics from thereon.
After this incident, when I got up every morning, I first looked into the mirror, looked at my bumpy parts, and felt terrible.Every sneaky little comment hit my ears like a dagger.
When I grew older, I became desperate to get married but terrified that my weight would deter any man from looking at me. I believed with all my heart that I was obese.
I only weighed 75kgs at the time and was 1,67m tall. I got married at 21 and divorced after three months. Life became a constant battle. I tried my best to be on diets, one after the other. Instead of losing weight, I slowly started gaining weight.
When I weighed 85kgs, I was told that I could have a gastric bypass and that I would lose all the extra weight. I went for it and thought to myself, 'this was going to be a dream come true.'I was wrong.
The reality is that after the staple operation, I gained another 40 kg. Seven years along the line, I weighed a staggering 125kgs. After my 3rd child, I climbed to 155kgs.
My colon was hanging out at the bottom, and doctors told me I was standing on death row in 2010 as my situation had become so dire. To try and assist me, the specialist who had performed my initial operation convinced me to go to yet another specialist who was his friend and would perhaps be able to "make me better."
This doctor was fantastic and explained to me that the medical profession failed in their first attempts with the bypass because they did not choose the right options for me. The newest gastric bypass surgery would ensure beneficial weight loss, he said.
I started on a program with a psychologist and dietician and had to lose 15kgs before the operation so that I could make it through the surgery. I was convinced that I was going to lose the extra weight and that a new life was on the horizon for me. A week before the scheduled operation, my medical aid confronted me with an option.
It had to use their chosen specialist, or they would not pay for my procedure - the cost of the surgery was R85 000. I had no option but to change to their chosen specialist, and my operation was postponed. This all happened after an intense four-months on a diet program, where I was only on liquids.
The new doctor, a man who could not wait to discredit his colleague, did not impress me, but I was desperate. I was going to lose weight. I would be able to walk in a shopping center again, and not have to use a wheelchair.
My dreams were going to be realised.When the day of the operation came around, what was meant to take 45 minutes on the operating table took 10 hours to complete. I came down from 155kgs to 125kgs after eight years, losing 15kg before the diet and a second operation later.
Being desperate and wondering why I had not lost the weight I was told I would; I went to yet another "excellent" specialist, who did a stomach biopsy on me to see what was done. After the biopsy, I tried to contact the specialist, and with much trouble, I was informed by a nurse at the consulting rooms that the biopsy showed that I now have two stomachs to feed.
My food runs from one stomach to the other part of the "closed" stomach. It would cost me all the money, from my pocket, to undergo yet another gastric bypass to fix what the previous two specialists had done wrong!
I have not been able to go for a new operation and wonder why I did this in the first place.I am 64 years old now, have had a desperate life long struggle with weight, and cannot seem to get it together, even to attempt a diet.
I suppose I have to live like this for the rest of my living life. Is this the thorn in my flesh, which I am to carry life long? Will there be a big enough coffin for me, eventually?For others, surgery and a lot of money involved might work, I don't know. For me, it certainly did not.
* The name of the writer has been withheld to protect her privacy.