I had just walked in the door when you sidled up next to me.

“Can I show you something?”

You showed me your iPad, face lit up with eager excitement. You watched me closely, looking for a happy or grateful reaction — something to reinforce your discovery. Instead, you watched my face fall.

On the screen were before and after pictures from surgeon’s offices, advertisements for gastric bypass and lap band surgeries. On the left stood a woman my size, slouching and exposed, in fitted workout clothing. Next to her, that same woman, beaming and standing tall, reduced to half her previous size.

I looked at the woman my size, her stony expression betrayed by the deep disappointment behind her eyes. I looked at the shape of her body: the soft slopes of her breasts, belly, hips. Her body looked so much like mine. I am before. I am always before.

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“I saw these pictures and I thought of you,” you explained. When I didn’t respond, you went on. “Think of how much healthier you would be. The partners you could date. I know you love clothes — you could wear whatever you want!” You paint my body with stencils, my life made up of negative space. You aren’t describing me — you’re describing what you’re sure I can’t have.

You paged through the pictures, eyes fixed on my face for the happiness you were sure would come. You had, after all, found a miracle cure. You must have imagined I’d be so relieved to learn that there was a way out of the body I have — all it would take was $23,000 to cut that body open, truss its organs, and leave it to wither.

But in that moment, I had already been gutted. My rib cage had been hollowed out, heart and lungs set aside, cored like an apple. Breath scraped in my throat before evaporating into the crater my ribs had become. I was awash in the desolation you imagined my life to be, and the wonderland you envisioned for thinner women.

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