13-Year-Old Follows up Lipo and Tummy Tuck with Lap-Band

Big Fat Blog has a post today about Brooke Bates, a 13-year-old girl who underwent liposuction and a tummy tuck at 12, gained back most of the weight, and has now been fitted with a Mexican Lap-Band. Her parents had trouble finding a doctor to do it in the States, stunningly enough — for starters, Brooke’s BMI was well under the usual cut-off of 35, and it’s just so much more expensive to go through all the screening required to make sure the surgery will be, you know, safe.

“It’s so much paperwork that you have to go through — so much red tape is what I call it. They want you to get psychological testing, they want you to get sleep apnea testing and all those things I’m sure are very important, but it’s money,” said [mother Cindy] Bates.

Yes, god forbid you spend the money on psychological testing for a child whom you said in the previous breath is a “compulsive overeater.” Those greedy American bastards might have actually wanted to treat your child’s eating disorder before performing another surgery on her. The nerve!

It all becomes even more heartbreaking when you learn this, from a People article published during Brooke’s post-lipo honeymoon phase (emphasis mine):

She tried to lose the weight; in fact she had dieted most of her childhood. There was the $1,400 low–carb plan her parents enrolled her in during third grade. Then Richard Simmons’s Deal–a–Meal in fourth grade and Weight Watchers in the fifth.

Her parents tried to help at home by “getting rid of all the chips, crackers and cookies,” her father, Joey, says. But regardless of any success she had, the pounds always came back. “Brooke seemed to be the kind of kid who gained weight from just looking at food,” says her mother, Cindy.

Later in the article, Cindy is quoted as saying her daughter has “basically been on a diet from the age of three.”

So wait, does she gain weight just by looking at food, or is she a compulsive overeater? And if it’s the latter, do you suppose your having starved her from the age of three on might have anything to do with that compulsion?

The articles say Brooke had high blood pressure by age 11 and was declared a “ticking time bomb” by a doctor, though they don’t say how high it was, or whether the stress of being ridiculed for her body at school, having her parents obsess about her weight, and learning that her father had cancer thought to be terminal might have driven her blood pressure up. Regardless of those question marks, it’s clear that her health had very little to do with the surgery decisions. I mean, from stuff besides the fact that her parents saw all that pesky health screening as a waste of money.

It wasn’t easy. Even Dr. Robert Ersek, a local plastic surgeon and the self–proclaimed “biggest fat–sucker in Texas,” initially said no. But because [Brooke’s father] Joey had that winter been diagnosed with bladder cancer (thought by the Bateses to be terminal), Ersek agreed to take Brooke as his patient. The girl had told him, “I want my dad to see me looking slim and pretty in a dress before he dies.”

Jesus, this poor kid. Her father’s cancer was in remission by the time of the article, thankfully, but how unbelievably fucked up is it that at 11 or 12 years old, she wasn’t only worried about her dad dying, but about him dying with a fat daughter?

And of course, that was on top of the pain of being a fat kid at school:

Brooke says her physical pain was nothing compared with the psychological anguish she endured. One day in junior high, boys harassed her until she fled in tears. “I wanted to die,” she says. In class no one wanted to sit next to her. “Kids would say, ‘You stink,’ because people tend to think fat people smell bad, even though I didn’t.”

It’s all too familiar to anyone who was ever a fat kid. And yet, we insist on framing the problem as having to do with her weight, not this culture’s perverse obsession with thinness. Of course Brooke’s self-esteem improved after weight loss, but not because her psychological problems had actually been addressed; because she was less of a target both for other children and her own goddamned parents. The problem was never about her weight. It was other people treating her like shit for her weight. So when she gained the weight back, it was business as usual.

And the solution was another surgery.

As much as I’d like to wring her parents’ necks on the one hand, on the other, I can’t even blame them that much. They’re products of this culture, too. They want their child not to be tortured in school. They might even have been worried, not without cause, about the state taking their daughter away when she continued to gain weight despite all the diets.

But it makes me furious that this poor girl, dealing with so much, has never had a safe space to be in her own body without shame, guilt, and fear. The tragedy here is not that she cracked 200 lbs. before high school; it’s that she’s never known what it’s like to be accepted unconditionally, even by her own family.

This is what a fat-hating culture does to people. It makes them spend thousands of dollars on weight loss programs for growing children. It makes parents believe that putting their child through three elective surgeries before she starts high school — one of those by a doctor chosen precisely because he wouldn’t require all that “red tape” of pre-surgery health screening — is reasonable and responsible, even loving. It makes a child believe that going under the knife is preferable to walking into one more classroom with her fat body.

And then, when this shit makes the news, we all gasp and say, “How could they? 12 years old! That’s unconscionable!”

But we don’t ask ourselves, Well, what if she’d been 16? 21? Would it make sense then to follow up an entire lifetime of dieting with multiple elective surgeries? Or to follow-up one failed surgery with a different one aiming at the same goal?

And most of all, we don’t ask ourselves, What made Brooke Bates’s life so fucking miserable that she wanted to do this at such a young age? We believe we already know the answer to that: fat made her miserable! Question answered! No need to think about anything else!

Like the fact that other children treating her like a pariah made her miserable.

Or that chronic dieting made her miserable.

Or not being fully accepted by her own parents made her miserable.

Or hearing that her father was going to die made her miserable.

Or going through adolescence made her miserable.

No, it was just the fat. It’s always just the fat. Remove the fat by any means necessary, and all the other problems go away.

Except when they don’t.

Posted in Fat

60 thoughts on “13-Year-Old Follows up Lipo and Tummy Tuck with Lap-Band

  1. I saw this on a CNN link. The daughter is tarted up like a Bratz doll. It’s pretty clear that nobody in that family is thinking about anything except what the girl looks like.

    I get so sad when I hear somebody say a lap band FIXES THE PROBLEM. All it does is strangle your stomach. Nothing’s fixed.

    Yes, the mother is a product of this putrid culture. I truly hope her daughter does all right with her surgery, because there it is on tape with her admitting she blew off all of the precautionary testing because “it costs money”.

    I have to wonder if her insurance covered this fully, would she have gone through the hoops and gotten therapy to keep her out of surgery. Maybe just going to a foreign country for some low-bid surgery isn’t always the answer to “the problem”.

  2. You know, I’m sorry, but some people shouldn’t have kids. I don’t have much sympathy for these parents. How about pulling the kid from her school and homeschooling her? Working on the kid’s self esteem? There are all sorts of ways to deal with bullying and psychological issues related to school.


  3. Laurie, I hear you. I’m not saying I have a LOT of sympathy for the parents. But it’s sort of like pageant parents: my response is about 85% “What the FUCK is wrong with your head?” and 15% “Nice culture we’ve got here.”

  4. As I said on BFB, the fact that fat kids are being pulled out of perfectly fine homes for the mere act of being fat while these bozo parentis get national press coverage–not all of it even remotely negativeis enough to make me sick.

  5. Wow…And Social Services is not all over this? Wouldn’t this be considered child abuse in some way? I mean when I was 13 I was fat and only miserable because I was going through the stage of being angsty for no reason what so ever. But this is so horrible. I think at any age for someone to do this is horrible. All our society is doing is prepping psych majors with plenty of scarred patients for the future. Why to go, guys.

  6. Kate, I think you said it best when you concluded that we all know this kind of surgery is at best ill-considered for a child, and yet many of us would consider it appropriate for an adult.

    There’s obviously something wrong medically if an 11-year-old can’t walk without feeling faint, but I think time would have been better spent figuring out what that was instead of focusing on her fat.

    And if her siblings don’t have the same “issues,” I can understand how she feels completely outnumbered and desperate. At least my brother had the good grace to be chubby with me.

  7. awwwwww…That’s really sad! I want to give her a big hug! I know people bigger than her who are just fine. She needs to see a shrink! someone should call CPS aswell! Is there any way we can write this girl letters?

  8. And Social Services is not all over this? Wouldn’t this be considered child abuse in some way?

    Unfortunately, the parents could claim and easily prove that drastic weight loss solutions were her idea. They could say “she wanted this.” And of course she does. Because she thinks there’s no other way to be acceptable. For at least part of the time that I was throwing up every day, I would have told you I wanted to do it, too.

    I would love to see child services get them for skipping the health screening, and that one might be possible. But for forcing surgery on their child? Not gonna happen.

  9. The fact that her parents were trotting her around to the media as a success story less than a year after the lipo makes this all the more tragic and awful. I sympathize with parents who think their children need to lose weight, but there is a point when they need to be held responsible, too. I think that point clearly comes after multiple surgeries all filmed for the benefit of the news media.

  10. When I saw the post on BFB I knew I was going to have something to look forward to at your blog, Kate. As always, you have summed up my thoughts much more succinctly than I ever could.

    My heart breaks for this girl. To be that young and have every aspect of your life overshadowed by a freakin’ number is so sad. I bet she doesn’t have a whole lot she can feel good about other than fleeting weight loss. What if martial arts classes or pottery or roller skating was all it took for her to feel better about herself? I bet the weight would come off on its own.

  11. I feel sorry for the whole family. They definitely bear some responsibility for drinking the weight-loss obsession kool aid, but it’s not easy to resist, and I get that not everybody has the will to do so. Whenever I hear stories of little kids on diets, though, it just breaks my heart. Those kids will have zero fucking chance to develop a reasonable relationship with food, let alone any kind of self-esteem.

    This girl, in particular, having her “failures” paraded for the media again and again? I shudder to think of the damage being done to her psyche, let alone her poor heart and the rest of her body. Sickening.

  12. Oh my god…can you even imagine how awful it must have been to gain that weight back, after everyone telling you how amazing you looked, and praising you instead of shunning you all the time, and mom and dad so proud of you, and knowing they spent $25,000 on you to make it happen (that really should have gone into your college fund, thanks very much)? It was hard enough for me dealing with the repercussions of being a failed weight loss “success” at 36 – I can’t imagine what it would be like for a 13-year-old girl, who knows her dying father doesn’t want to look at a fat little girl. At that age, that translates directly into “I am killing my father.” The thing I find bizarre is seeing everyone from her folks to the doctors taking what this girl says as informed consent of some kind. “Well, she just wanted it so badly” – “Brooke insisted.” Who gives a damn if Brooke insisted? Brooke’s a child! Someone should have put a stop to this.

  13. What’s really sad is that when I was 12, I would have been begging to have this done, too. And I was nothing more than “chubby” then. I wanted a boyfriend so badly, and was so sure my huuuuge ass and huuuuge thighs were the only things standing in the way of that, I would have done just about anything to be in someone’s arms, anything to be told I was loved by someone who seemed kind and sweet and smart.

    But although my parents were anything but size-accepting, even they wouldn’t have signed off on this. Way too dangerous. Especially in a foreign country where they skipped almost all of the preliminary testing.

    And if the father ever, ever said to her anything like, “I want to see you looking thin and pretty in a dress before I die,” then he frigging deserves terminal cancer. I can only “hope” the girl got this idea from marketing sources and not directly from her own family.

  14. Forgive me for how harsh this is going to sound. But I wonder, when Brooke’s family is ready to get her a lobotomy, will they just hire some thugs to beat her until she loses all brain function? It’s cheaper after all.

    Sorry, but I have 0 sympathy for her family. They are child abusers and the emotional damage they’ve inflicted on this child is far worse than any two-bit schoolyard bully could ever dream of doing.

  15. Most doctors adhere to the credo of “informed consent” when performing any health treatment, especially invasive surgeries such as this. This girl’s decision could hardly be called informed and it sounds as if the only reason she consented was due to years of fat abuse and pressure by other, her parents namely, to lose weight.

    There is no long-term data available on bariatric surgeries. So help this girl should long-term adverse health risks arise.

  16. You know, this entire case is beginning to sound like a really fucked up case of Munchausens-by-proxy. (sp.) Particularly since she’s had this ‘problem’ for the last 10 years — which means it started when she was 3.

    I don’t know, could being forced — sorry, encouraged — to diet starting that young perhaps cause issues with food? Perhaps a feeling of constant deprevision for a growing child resulting in, I don’t know, compulsive over-eating?

    Why is this being lauded as as praiseworthy on the part of her parents (obviously not here, but in the larger media) instead of her parents being prosocuted for child endangerment and possibly outright abuse?

    Oh, right. Because Thin is next to Godliness these days, isn’t it?

  17. Clarification — Yes, I know that by definition Munchausens-by-proxy is fucked up, anyway.

  18. Wow…And Social Services is not all over this?

    Of course not. They just want to take all the fat kids into care to save them from their irresponsible, uncaring parents.

    …aaaand sarcasm off.

  19. So if she “gained weight just by looking at food,” what’s the next step after the surgery doesn’t work? Gouge her fucking eyes out?

    Yeah, she’ll be blind, but it’s better than being fat, dontcha know.

  20. So, Kate…anyone…have you read Andre Dubus’ “The Fat Girl” yet?

    However, it may sound redundant after this real-life story.

  21. I agree with a lot of Tari’s sentiments. Here is a case of love the sinner hate the sin.

    I can’t find much fault with their belief that they are doing the best they can for their daughter whom they obviously love, because I was once as deluded as them, I can’t pretend I wasn’t ‘cos I’ve ‘seen the light’. Yes the T.V thing is not good, but they are not the first, maybe they want the world to know what they’ve been through, how much this has meant, we are always accused of not caring (ironically parents especially). The mother expressed the feeling that it was not Brook’s fault but her’s and her husband’s for the food they offered her, I think the sense of letting their daughter down, that sense of shame can fuel speed, we’ve done it or seen it. Also I could be wrong, but I detect a note of quack, “pre-diabetic” indeed, aren’t we all unless we actually are diabetic?

    And can we not throw child abuse around it is not interchangeable with not imperfect parenting, which I’m sure most of us can relate to. I can’t help feeling that if people like myself had woken up to this shit a bit sooner, we could have saved this generation a lot of pain, who knows? It might not have come to this.
    I cannot imagine the ‘psychological testing’ that would legitimize this sort of butchery, what if she passed?

  22. This case sadly reminds me of something I remember seeing on Oprah in the last year or so. I believe the girl was 14 or 16, but her father basically said he couldn’t love her if she was fat….and the girl wanted so badly for him to love her….but he said he just couldn’t if she was fat…..and Oprah said nothing….and then she came back after her surgery all bright eyed because now daddy could love her and she didn’t get made fun of at school and could wear “cool” clothes. And you know this isn’t just happening on TV…I can’t even imagine the human tragedy.

  23. Let’s not forget that social services would be on the parents if they were not ‘making’ her lose the weight.

    And Mary Garden, when I was going into 7th grade I came back 30 pounds smaller after a summer at fat camp (and at the time, it was the crucial 30 pounds), got all the praise and new clothes, and gained it all back in like 45 minutes.

    Of course, my parents hadn’t gone to the press about it!

  24. Oh, Roberta – you poor kid! That must have been awful.

    Also, withoutscene, I’ve never been completely comfortable with Oprah’s approach to fat children. She is very compassionate on one hand – on the other, she seems weirdly blind to the impact parents’ ‘honest’ revelations about their feelings will have on the kid (who is usually sitting right there).

  25. Also, did anyone else watch the CNN story? Am I nuts or is Brooke pretty much built exactly like her Mom? (there’s one frame where they are standing next to each other for a minute – Mom is in ‘slimming’ black, but really looks pretty comparable, size-wise, and her build is definitely the same).

  26. Jesus. Fucking. Christ.

    I think I am finally suffering from outrage fatigue, because I cannot think of anything else to say…

  27. OK. I want so very badly to say something intelligent/coherent about my absolute outrage at this whole story, but all I can seem to do is stare at the monitor, my mouth opening and closing on it’s own and making unintelligible noises. (I sound like the president giving an unrehearsed speech)

    I think I need a prozac.

  28. Angela–I think we’ve all been there, if not with this story than with some other unbe-fucking-lievable example of hatred and prejudice. For me, it was the American Pediatric Association guidelines that Sandy Szwarc and others wrote about maybe a month or so ago. I actually had to go to bed for a while.

  29. The understanding of the parents should really be exhausted sometime before they paraded their daughter around the media for a SECOND time. I understand why parents want their children to lose weight, but there is a point where it just becomes excusing abusive behavior. Parents who withhold love from fat children? No. That’s WRONG. Parents who berate and belittle their children for being fat? That’s wrong. That’s more than “imperfect parenting” and crosses over into emotional abuse. The idea that the emotional damage fat children get inflicted with is an exaggeration just isn’t so.

    EVERYONE here understands why parents think their fat children should lose weight and I’m sure everyone understands parents who try to induce weight loss or even put kids on diets. Not this. They bullied a doctor into performing the lipo and then ran off to Mexico to get a surgery when their daughter didn’t even meet the already leniant guidelines for that surgery inspite of knowing that WLS can have deadly consequences. And even if you could understand that, I cannot see what is to be understood about the media circus they have turned their daughter into. This is a 13-year old girl and this coverage is heartbreaking and irresponsible. It was bad enough the first time around. It was bad enough when they allowed photo collages their daughter made expressing her disgusted with her temporarily formerly fat self to be posted online. Heck, I might even give them a pass for the nearly nude photos they also allowed of her since they were of her fat body and probably reflect the casual dehumanizing of fat people our culture demands. But publishing her horribly sad expressions of self-hatred and thinkinging of it as triumphant? No. I’m sorry but you have to be better parents than that. You have to understand that exposing a child’s insecurities carries a profound risk of backfiring. And yet, when the weight loss scheme did fail, they essentially punish the daugher by broadcasting “her” failure to the national media complete with a video reel. No, THAT is unfathomable to me. They aren’t bad parents for thinking that a fat children should be a thin child, but they are bad parents for plenty of reasons all the same. The totality of what they’ve done here is just beyond the pale.

  30. I’m with BStu, here. This is absolutely unconscionable.

    Do I understand how these parents set out on this road? Sure I do. But there’s a reason we all know the saying, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

    There has got to be a point, as a parent, where you stop and look at what you’re doing and how it’s effecting your child and you have to ask yourself, “Am I really doing the right thing? Am I doing more harm than good here?”

    And the very fact that this poor child, when she believed her father was dying, could think of nothing more than, “I want him to see me slim and pretty in a dress again,” is just… staggering. What about going to a movie with him again? Or playing Scrabble with him again? Or playing catch in the back yard?

    I want to make a life-size cardboard standup of this poor girl, at this “happy slim size”, and when (do I dare hope “if”? I really do not, sorry to say) she gains the weight back again, I want her to hand her parents the cardboard cutout and go, “Here. You love this. It’s thin and pretty, and if it’s not thin enough, you can always cut pieces off and it won’t care. I’m going to go be a person, now.”

    This poor, poor kid. She’s stuck with these parents, and meanwhile good prospective parents are being denied the chance to adopt children because they are fat. WTF is wrong with this world?

  31. The parents have behaved badly, the question is intent, CONTEXT is all, I just don’t think they would be doing what they are doing if there was a true and rational debate, there is none. As a parent, you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
    If your children remain fat, you are a child abuser as others have stated. If not for that it would be a lot easier to categorically state that their intention is to harm her.

    How can you seriously state they ‘bullied’ their doctor into doing liposuction on a 12 year old? Where did the word ‘obesity’ come from, who invented the (child) ‘obesity crisis’? Who has given legitimacy to the diet industry charlatans, for decades? And of course sent many to them, claiming they are the experts.

    As for being paraded on TV, it would be a lot easier to know that it was wrong, if not for the countless fat people and their children paraded on the tube mostly stripped to their underwear, with lingering close ups and overexcited voiceovers.

    I’m not trivializing anything, thank you, I’ve lived it, I know the effect it has had on me and others, I’m still paying the price, so I’ll deal with it in my own way, if it’s alright with you. My own parents hurt me none too few times over this, but did they do it to harm me? No, they saw it as righting a wrong, which was their parental duty. If parents get it right, it’s tough love, if they get it wrong, it’s abuse, where is the margin for error? Parenting is not an exact science.

    Of course it’s hard to say, but from what I’ve seen of her, she doesn’t seem to me to come across as unloved, or even, strangely enough, not accepting of herself, it’s the fat she rejects, as understandably, she doesn’t see it as part of her real self, I think a lot of us know that feeling.

    The evil that you are seeing, is the evil of this vile cult, all of people caught up are not necessarily bad, this readiness to believe in the badness of parents, out to do their children harm, is why the good people you speak of Thorn don’t get a look in, they are all viewed as potential child abusers, rather than potentially good parents.

  32. Hmm. I’m somewhere in the middle here. I definitely agree that the term “abuse” is used too freely, but I also think no matter how much these parents may have thought they were doing the right thing for Brooke, they’ve done her far more harm than being fat would have. (Perhaps more by rejecting her fat self than by allowing the surgeries.)

    Of course it’s hard to say, but from what I’ve seen of her, she doesn’t seem to me to come across as unloved, or even, strangely enough, not accepting of herself, it’s the fat she rejects, as understandably, she doesn’t see it as part of her real self, I think a lot of us know that feeling.

    And a lot of us know that feeling because our parents raised us to believe the fat was not part of our real selves, but something to be despised and eliminated. I don’t accept that you can love yourself and hate your fat. I mean, you could describe my teenaged self that way, too — but hating the fat was bloody well enough to fuck me up.

  33. Hey, guess what, y’all? My BODY is made up of a lot of stuff plus a lot of fat tissue. That is my REAL self because it is my BODY and unless I own and embrace it, I do myself real harm.

    You know, when abused people say the violent tendencies of their abusers aren’t the REAL person, we gently remind them that yes, those actions are a part of that person and the abused person needs to get out of a bad situation.

    That’s an imperfect analogy, not least of all because fat is not the equivalent of an abusive partner. The point is, yes, that fat you are carrying around IS part of the real you. That is why fat acceptance is such a radical act – it involves embracing every part of you and, rather than distancing yourself from it because society wants you to fit into a certain mold, loving it anyway.

  34. Yes I can SERIOUSLY state that the bullied the doctor because that’s precisely what they describe. Which is saying something because I’m sure the doctor was pretty fat hostile to begin with. But they told him how the father was dying and needed to see his daughter thin. When a lipo surgeon needs to be pressured into performing lipo, something is seriously wrong.

    The bottom line though is that they haven’t abused their child by seeking weight loss. That’s not just culturally accepted, its culturally mandated. They abused their child because we’re all talking about her because they keep dragging her in front of cameras to shame her. Its irresponsible. Not just once but twice. The first time eagerly handing over a 12-year old’s expressions of self-hate and nude photos of her. The second time flaunting her perceived “failure” all over cable news. She’s 13. Her life has been turned into a media circus and that’s irresponsible parenting. Most parents of fat children encourage or even pressure them to lose weight. Most don’t get them multiple surgeries against even lenient medical standards while putting their child on display for the national media repeatedly.

    Fat hatred is culturally promoted in our society and we do need to understand that, but we need to draw a line, too. There is a point when enough is enough and people need to be called to account for “well-meaning” emotional abuse. We can’t just keep making excuses for people who have no shame about their actions or even the consequences of those actions. If everyone gets a free pass to hate fat people because of our culture, how can we ask people to treat us any differently? There needs to be a line where people are responsible for the way they treat fat people.

  35. Wriggles, the doctor was reluctant to perform the liposuction because 1) Liposuction is not normally done on children and 2) Liposuction is not normally done to make fat people thin. It’s generally used to sculpt an already thin person’s body, like getting rid of a tummy pooch or stubborn fat deposits on thighs. There’s no point in doing it to make a fat person thin because there’s nothing to stop the weight from coming straight back. The doctor only agreed to do it because they told him her dad was dying.

  36. The Rotund, what you just said is a big part of what I meant to say in my comment above yours, but I now realize I didn’t. Thanks for making that point in no uncertain terms.

    And BStu, I hope you don’t think that I’m giving anyone — let alone these parents — a free pass for fat hating because of the culture. I think these parents are fucking assholes who have done serious physical and emotional damage to their child, to put it quite simply.

    But I also think that if you focus only on the parents, you risk giving the impression that this happened in a vacuum — that there are no larger implications that the rest of us ought to think about, because the beginning and end of the story is, “These parents behaved outrageously. No normal person would do that.”

    Maybe not. But tons of normal people put their children on diets. And plenty of normal people are willing to shame their kids on TV for shit like Shaq’s show or a Jerry Springer episode, whatever. It is absolutely “normal” behavior in this culture to be ashamed of your fat child, teach that child to be ashamed of his or herself, and starve that child in pursuit of an entirely different kind of child than the one you got.

    I’m not saying, “Oh, these poor parents, they know not what they do.” I’m saying these parents are really not THAT extreme. They are not that far away from what’s considered “normal” behavior — even “good” parenting. And that scares the shit out of me.

  37. I just want to echo what some others have said in that my heart breaks for this girl and her desire to be loved and accepted by her parents who never have been allowed to procreate in the first place. Talk about an advantage that doesn’t get talked about much: having parents who actually unconditionally love you. What a difference that makes.

  38. Absolutely Unbelievable… and we wonder why most other cultures despise us. Our days are filled with stuffing our kids so they’ll shush ( usually infront of the T.V. because most parents spend too much time working just to make ends meet ) then complaining of their weight. Our evenings are then filled with
    ” reality ” television spewing ideals of vanity and disgust of those whom are not vain. What have we gotton ourselves into?

  39. I kinda want to poke her dad in the nose. He’s sick, maybe dying, and his little girl is putting herself through hell so she won’t look back in fifteen years and say, “My dad died disappointed in me.” He should get down on his damn knees and be grateful that she cares that much, then get up, give her a big hug and apologize for making her force herself into a mold so she can believe what she should have always known.

  40. The parents are to blame. The are obviously obsessed with looks and being thin. This is absurd! I wonder if there will be any long term consequences to having surgeries like this at such a young age.

  41. This is so incredibly sad…I really want to kidnap this girl and wash outall this filth that has been poured into her head and heart for 13 years, and be there for her and love her. And it still wouldn’t be enough because her PARENTS don’t accept her for how she is.

    Yesterday I saw part of a home improvement tv show where both the host and the homeowner didn’t have an ounce of fat on them.
    First thought: Why not?
    Second thought: So they don’t have any ‘bad’ angles..
    Third thought: ARE YOU INSANE? WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU? Who says a drop of fat makes a bad angle? Personally I think people that thin look ill and breakable. It’s not healthy. How about having some padding and some muscle?
    My goodness, I am just in a tizzy.

    These parents. Who raised them?

  42. Gods above! Munchausen-by-proxy much?

    A kid of twelve, who hasn’t even started puberty, much less finished it, is not competent to give consent to a major medical and surgical procedure which will fuck her over for the rest of her life. Any sane doctor, when faced with a request for such surgery, should not say to her parents “oh yeah, go for it, here’s the name of a surgeon who can be guaranteed to sacrifice his morals for money”, but rather “what have you been trying already?” and “can you wait until she’s finished high school?” Any surgeon who is being asked to perform gastric surgery and surgery to remove vital fat reserves from a pre-pubescent child should be flamin’ well calling in the welfare types, and refusing to touch the job with a bargepole. In both cases, the medical review board for the state should be looking hard at this and saying “what the fuck?”, with a serious intent to remove licences.

    A kid who is on a diet from the age of three has less than no chance of learning how to eat sanely. A kid who is being teased at school, nagged at home, and reminded constantly by everyone she meets that she just isn’t good enough isn’t a kid who needs surgery. She needs a reasonably supportive environment and a bloody good shrink (and so does the rest of her family, no doubt). This kid didn’t need surgery – she needed an effective social worker, a foster home where being fat wasn’t the only deadly sin, and a bit of love.

    As for the age factor? I’d regard this series of procedures as just as tragic at any age, because the central story is that the person who is having the surgeries done to them is being told that there is no such thing as unconditional love. Instead, you have to earn it, even from those closest to you. Nobody says that the person who has to love you unconditionally first is *you*, and that it’s hard to learn to do that when you’ve always had conditions attached to love from everyone else.

    PS: I stand by my wholly unprofessional diagnosis of Munchausen-by-proxy. It looks to me like Brooke has been chosen to be the whipping boy for the family’s problems, and it started early. While the culture in the US may well be fucked up, I find it hard to believe it’s *that* fucked up.

  43. I agree with Kate that these parents, living in the larger society that they are in, might very well believe that they’re saving their daughter from 1) the humilation of being ostracised in school and 2) the health problems they truly think will come from being heavy. That we’re subject to this propaganda non-stop doesn’t get past me, and I don’t expect it to get past them.

    With that said, I do think this is child abuse. This operation can end up killing her, and her life is in danger because she had it. The mother flat out said that she didn’t want to go through the steps she would need to go through to have it done here, because she didn’t want to spend the extra money!

    Imagine a parent sending their child to get a tonsilectemy in Mexico, because they didn’t have insurance and the operation was a lot cheaper there. What if that child was subjected to and unclean and unsafe environment during this procedure that eventually led to a serious infection and possibly death? Would you consider the parents that put their child through that abusive?

    In this case, unlike having tonsils removed, the operation was completely unnecessary. As Brian points out, they have turned her into a media freak in the process. The mother, from what little I saw of her, appears to be treating her daughter’s chubbiness as a tragedy of the highest order. No wonder Brooke wanted her body made deformed, she’s been told by not just her classmates, but clearly her own family that she’s a freak. She wrong. She’s bad. And if she can make herself thin it will all be okay and she’ll be accepted. It’s heartbreaking, and I really do consider it child abuse.

    Yes, we’re in a sick society. But we’re also told day in and day out that rich is better than poor. And not just in how much you can have, but just that you’re a better person if you have money. Your rich ’cause you’re good. Your poor ’cause your bad.

    But most of us don’t go around robbing banks because we get this message. Because it’s wrong. Well, you shouldn’t subject a pre-pubesent child to surgery that’s very dangerous for even grown people just because we’re told thin is in. Because it’s wrong.

  44. I obviously agree that we should blame society for this. I’d just be cautious about not implying that society’s blame absolved the particularly destructive role her parents have taken. My only worry is that the implication Wiggles seemed to be drawing was that this is only a problem with our culture and tha the parents were simply victims of that culture, too. While true to extend, I think there does need to be a point where that sort of understanding ends and the parents join in the blame. They key absolutely is sharing the blame because I’m very sensitive to the “Well, they’re just a monster” response that tends to “otherize” destructive behavior and prevent us from understanding the role our culture plays in nurturing such attitudes. Just as a warped culture shouldn’t let bad parents off the hook, bad parents shouldn’t let a warped culture off the hook, either.

    I actually would disagree with the commentators who assume the parents drove Brooke to have a bad relationship with her body. They may have played a part, certainly, but sadly her attitudes in all of this are very much in line with what our culture dictates for fat people. Her parents didn’t have to make her hate her body this much. That’s clearly something our culture has very much in control.

  45. Hey, sort of, but not quite off topic, can anyone point me to the direction of some info about the real risks of lap band surgery? I just found out a friend has been talked into having it and I want to make sure she’s got a more balanced picture of it than the rosy one fed to her by the doctor’s. I just know that another friend of mine had a different kind of WLS and was fed all kinds of stuff by the doctors about how it would change her life forever, she’d be able to go off her diabetes meds and everything, and that turned out to be so not the case for her.

    I’m especially hoping for real life stories/blogs/ etc. Of course, my Google-fu is too weak to find anything but the stuff put out there by the bariatric clinics.

    thanks everyone.

  46. Most of my thoughts on the subject have already been spoken. Suffice it to say that the parents are seriously in need of counseling themselves.
    I wonder though…the mom states that the child has been on a diet since three-years of age. She talks of all sorts of diets and procedures, but I don’t see any mention of family ouings to go rollerblading or hiking or camping. I don’t see any mention of a family nutritionist. She just wants to find that “magic pill” and her daughter isn’t being taught any of the knowledge she will need to live a healthy life. Very sad.

  47. it’s the fat she rejects, as understandably, she doesn’t see it as part of her real self

    The Rotund
    I meant that as she has been constantly on a diet she cannot ‘bond’ with what she is trying to get rid of. Not that it is understandable that one shouldn’t accept one’s body.

    I don’t accept that you can love yourself and hate your fat.

    I think you can, if you believe you can achieve permanent WL, or are about to anytime soon.
    I know that for a lot of us, this didn’t occur. But in some people it does.
    It’s not possible when you cease to keep the faith, then they are incompatible.

  48. Thorn you said the road to hell is paved with good intentions, exactly. To say that this is hell so it was paved by malice, I’m not convinced.

    Maybe I should be more shocked, I was shocked and enraged, when they stated that parents with fat children were child abusers. I was appalled and angry when the medical/health establishment said that they would consider and even recommend surgery for some children.

    I think KH has said previously, that they don’t keep figures for child WLS, but it is occuring right now, and not just in the States either.
    So maybe I don’t feel the visceral outrage that I should feel, it seems so inevitable, they are bringing to the surface what is happening. And to my knowledge Mexico is not the world centre for it.

    I excuse no one, but I’ve noticed that the potency of WL both as an ideal and in reality, can be staggering. We have seen how the most highly learned and education fall for it like fools, why is this so hard to believe? Do we think they are better than us?

    Do people that only anorexics, and possibly and us, end up in thrall to this shit because we are a bit silly, and everyone else is so level headed and superior that they couldn’t possibly be taken up into this madness? Why is it so hard to believe that everyone else that invests heavily can be drawn in, deluded, desperate and pathetic. Yeah, they should know better, so should most that get entangled in this.
    It turns out they don’t have any better defense against this than
    we do, because THEY ARE NOT SUPERIOR TO US.

  49. There is so much wrong with this story that it makes me head spin. Ultimately I keep ending up wondering about the parenting and why on earth the parents think multiple surgeries for weight loss are a good idea for a body that is not done growing.

  50. This is simply proof to me that dieting causes weight gain.

    I am so grateful that my sweet cousin (who turns 20 in a few days) didn’t start getting crap about her weight until she was 12 (and NOT fat, btw) and that her mother didn’t push her into surgery.

    Oy. This poor, poor girl.

  51. Sorry, should make this point clear:

    My cousin should never have been bulliied about her weight by her own (overwrought and overworried) mother, EVER. I’m just glad the damage wasn’t as bad or as early as it was to Brooke.

    This whole thing makes me inexpressably sad.

  52. Oh, God, I have so been there. Not to the point where my parents wanted me to get lipo or my stomach stapled (though I know I’ve thought about it many a time), but my parents were unwittingly cruel. I’ve been a fat girl pretty much all my life, and my parents would constantly say things like “You need to eat better, or you’ll be 300lbs. in high school.” My mom in particular tried to be supportive, especially when I went clothes shopping (which sucked), but for the most part, it didn’t help.

    I feel this girl’s pain. Having body issues at such a young age sucks.

  53. Pfahahahahhahahaha.
    I’m twelve, 5’7”, and fat as…well, fat.
    Have been all my life. My parents are fat. My sister is fat. I eat normally.
    I would never consider, ever, ever, EVER getting surgery for it.
    I’ve been called names, avoided, and friendless up until last year. I was treated as a pariah to the nth degree. My self-esteem was so effing low. You had no idea. And now, guess what? I’ve learned that it isn’t my being fat that’s making me feel like crap-it’s my culture’s obsession with thinness. And school just started for me, and GUESS WHAT.
    I’m way happier and have more friends than I ever have. Shows what a little bit of confidence and the internet can do, right?
    Sure, some people still make fun of me, but I DON’T CARE ANYMORE.
    I made a friend out of one of my worst enemies. I was suuuucchhhh a beast last year, emotionally. So I was irritable and pissed off at everybody out of frustration because OMG! I WAS FAT! And this year, we sit next to each other in history and we’re really good friends, because she’s really really nice- I just didn’t see that, because I was being a total dumbass.

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