my nominee for the first Darwin award of the year

is the mother of this girl: Brooke Bates, a Texas girl who, after struggling with her weight her whole life had liposuction at the age of 12. Then, after regaining half of the weight, she had lap band surgery. In Mexico. Because not a single doctor in the U.S. would perform the surgery. Says her mother with a tone of indignation one might expect to hear from someone who has been denied, say, a cast for a broken leg, or ketchup for their hamburger.

I saw this nauseating story while watching E! THS Investigates Diet Fads. Probably my own fault, yes, but dieting is my hobby. I watch weight-loss shows like other people watch sports. So about halfway through I decide to get on the treadmill and feel a little less guilty (although really, only about half of it was encouraging diet stories and the other half was drama! and gossip! because that’s what E! is all about). Toward the end of the show, however, they get to Brooke. I swear to you, I was wearing my heart rate monitor and my heart rate went up with every moment I watched.

The story, essentially, is this: Brooke was a fat child. She “tried everything,” said her seemingly very caring mother and father, but just couldn’t lose. By the age of 12 she was over 200 lbs. The doctors told her that she shouldn’t try to do any running or physical activity because of her weight, she was a “walking time bomb.” OK – issue number 1: what doctor tells a fat kid NOT to do physical activity? Urrrrghhhh …..

So someone in the family, I missed it but I guess the mom? had liposuction in the past. Brooke decides she wants liposuction. Because her parents are the stupidest people in the world, they somehow allow this to happen. They go to the doctor who performed her mom’s(?) liposuction. They beg him, say they’ve tried everything, he says no, she’s too young. But mom is persistent. She comes back with receipts from all kinds of weight loss centers and stuff to prove Brooke has tried everything. OK – issue number 2: I could feed Ethiopia with the amount of money I’ve spent on diet plans. Spending money doesn’t equal giving a diet plan 100 percent.

So the doctor, who somehow seems to still have his license, agrees to liposuction.
Issue number 3: Since when is liposuction the first step to weight loss? I thought liposuction was generally reserved for those who have lost weight but still have those fat pockets you just can’t get rid of. Or for Hollywood celebrities. But whatever, it should not be the first step for a 12-year-old chubbo. Oy.

So the doctor, because he is a responsible practitioner and all, wants to do the lipo slowly. In stages. You know, only suck a little fat out of the 12-year-old body at a time. But then, Brooke’s dad gets cancer. So this changes things. Now, you’re probably thinking what I was, right? “I stopped the lipo at that point because my dad’s medical concerns were so much more important.” No. Issue number 4: She tells the doctor, I want to do this faster so my dad can see me thin. AND THE DOCTOR DOES. What issue are we on again?

She interviews that she wanted her dad to be able to see her in a little black dress and be proud. Oy. I thought I had daddy-weight issues! Oh – and let’s mention issue number 5 here: At the time I was watching this show, I didn’t know how long ago this surgery had happened. I assumed she was around 18, but at least 16, all Britney-ed out in her miniskirt and gold(!) eyeshadow. If I’d known she’s 13 (maybe 14 by now, but I don’t think so) I’d have fallen off the treadmill from sheer disgust.

So anyway. Daddy lives. Brooke loses 60 pounds from the lipo. But – oh no! Shockingly, she gains back about half of it! How is that possible, when she so clearly addressed all of her issues with food and body image, carefully examined not only what she does but why she does it, and intelligently embarked on a sensible weight-loss regime? Oh, wait … I forgot. This isn’t “Inside the Brookhaven Obesity Clinic” – the patients on which are all poster children for smart weight-loss compared to this girl. This is Crazy Texas Family With Image Issues Who Can’t Afford To Have A Fat Daughter.

So daddy is in remission and daughter is fat again. So the next logical step is to …. send Brooke to Brookhaven? Hold her hand as she attends Weight Watchers meetings each week, and cook her healthy meals and work out with her so she has incentive and positive role models? Oh wait .. that’s me being silly again. Issue number … err, whatever it is: They look into more surgical options. Specifically, they decide on lap band surgery. Now, as I mentioned above, no doctor in the U.S. will do this surgery (they must not have approached Dr. 90210. That guy would do a boob job on a geriatric marmoset if he thought it would make good TV). So they go to Mexico.

So anyway – here we have Brooke today, all glammed out in her Britney-esque best, talking about what a struggle it’s been. How being fat is hard, and being the biggest girl in school is hard, and how she’s tried everything. And then, she ends her interview with this gem that almost made me hurl my 16.9 ounces of pure spring water through the TV: “I just have problems, I can’t help it. I have a slow metabolism and I’m a compulsive eater.”

Hello???? HELLO!!! Guess what, sweetheart? Most of us are. You’re 13. You like pizza. This does not make you a medical mystery for whom there is no cure but Mexican surgical procedures.

There is nothing I can say that you aren’t all thinking right now. How many of us had weight problems as kids? Have I ever told y’all the Water Wing Trauma Story? How my arms were so fat at the age of 4 that my mom couldn’t get my water wings on me without greasing my arms up with suntan lotion*? Or how my thighs always got stuck in the grocery carts? Or how I had toilet training problems because I was too heavy for the training seat and it kept collapsing under me?

What I’m saying, Brooke, is a lot of us had weight issues as kids. And when I say kids, I mean not only 2 and 3, but 12 and 13 too. I know this will come as a shock, but there’s this thing inside your head called a brain. Your mom probably never told you about it because she seems to lack one herself. But it’s an amazing thing. It controls all kinds of things, like hunger, depression, compulsive habits, the voice in your head that tells you gold eyeshadow looks good … oh, I could go on.

I could write about this for days, but really there’s not much new I can say on this subject. Most people, judging by comments on other articles and blogs that have been posted about it, feel the same way. Hopefully it’s an isolated case and doesn’t start some kind of trend among pre-teens, who have already, unfortunately, become far more aware of body-image issues than my peers and I ever were at that age. Let’s just say that this girl’s mother needs to be locked in a room with Dr. Phil for the next six months, and Brooke needs to be sent to live with Susan Powter. Stop the insanity!

*no, I don’t know why she didn’t put the water wings on me before blowing them up, and blow them up ON my arms. It would’ve saved a lot of post-childhood trauma. I’ve asked, though, and she says “I just never thought of it.” Still a way better mom than Brooke’s, so I can forgive.


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