"The Before and After pictures you see on billboards – they're a lie," wrote performer Elna Baker in a post for Refinery29

By Gabrielle Olya
Updated July 14, 2015 05:00 PM
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Writer Elna Baker hoped that losing a dramatic amount of weight would give her a new sense of body confidence – but learned that some changes are literally only skin-deep.

“I don’t look like you’re ‘supposed’ to look naked,” reflected Baker in an essay for Refinery29‘s Anti-Diet Project. “I used to be obese. At my heaviest, I weighed 265 lbs. In my early 20s, I went on a diet and lost, in total, 110 lbs. I’d imagined that losing weight would be like that scene in The Little Mermaid where Ariel holds her new legs above her head, staring at them in disbelief. This was not the case.”

In her essay, which is accompanied by photos of Baker before-and-after skin removal surgery, the performer recalls the struggles she faced even after reaching her goal weight.

“The Before and After pictures you see on billboards – they’re a lie,” she wrote. “After dropping the weight, I had so much extra skin that I could lay on my side and pull it a half-foot in either direction.”

After trying lotions and exercise as a means to get rid of her excess skin to no avail, Baker underwent four plastic surgery procedures to remove it.

“I’ve joined the world of average-sized people now,” she wrote. “But, it doesn’t mean I’m fixed.”

Baker still feels some of the same body insecurities she felt when she was at her larger size.

“I think there is this idea out there that you either love and accept your body, or you’re trying to fix it,” she said in the piece. “I am in neither camp. Or, maybe I’m in both simultaneously. I try to accept myself, but I struggle. I want to be in better shape (but, I don’t want to go to the gym). And, my weight fluctuates, so that doesn’t help.”

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“I can see my body however I want to,” she continued. “I choose to dislike it. And I do so because after all these years, disliking the way I look has become a part of my identity. Instead of owning my body, I let the world tell me who I’m supposed to be and how I’m supposed to look.”

The stand-up comic admits that she did not want to use a recent photo for the piece, because she had gained 20 lbs. since the “after” photo was taken.

“I feel like a hypocrite writing something that is supposed to tell others to accept themselves when I don’t accept myself,” she admitted. “The truth is, I genuinely think everyone should accept themselves – everyone, except for me. This is the disease I am still trying to overcome.”