Saturday, August 6, 2011

Very hard to watch: a transformation comes undone

In researching and digging around to find an update for David Smith, the 650 lb. Virgin of TLC fame, I found a whole bunch of videos for something called Reshape the Nation. None of them are more recent than 2009. I think Chris Powell and David started this fitness business in partnership, but it became extremely awkward when he began to regain the weight.

This is one of the worst, when someone seems to have told them to goof around more and be "loose". The first 99 "State of the Nation" videos are a bit scary: Chris Powell does all the talking, and he seems to come from the Jack LaLanne School of Predatory Sales Aggression. David kind of sits beside him silently, looking either bored, glazed, or medicated, sometimes almost schizophrenic in his lack of affect.

In my last piece I quoted that autobiographical passage in which he described his horrific plan to commit suicide in a plastic swimming pool full of gasoline. You don't escape fantasies of self-immolation by losing a whole bunch of weight. Meantime, Powell  assumed the role of David's personal saviour, eventually bagging the trophy of his own show and dumping David unceremoniously by the side of the road.

The Earth Day one, well, what can I say? He's reading off a card, obviously, and looking fat, his face blown up, those sexy cheekbones buried. Personally I think he has shown some real guts in posting his current stats on two different sites:

I sense a coverup here, probably instigated by Powell. If you've made your name and landed your own show by succeeding in "transforming" someone, well, if that person "un-transforms", it's just embarrassing and makes you both look like failures.

But here is an opportunity that is not being taken. David Smith represents the vast majority of people who experience massive regain after major weight loss, but it's being dumped on his own head. The pressure to keep up his "transformed" image has obviously been crushing, but no one is acknowledging that or helping him carry it. 

I get this pervasive sense of shame hanging over the whole thing, but David has put the truth out there, I think courageously. The YouTube comments are weird: people keep saying he looks great, not acknowledging the obvious regain, as if they either don't want to see it or literally CAN'T see it, the elephant in the living room, so to speak.

I hope this guy will be OK. Enormous changes in weight will eventually take their toll. This is not to mention the huge amount of skin that was removed: I don't even want to go there, do you?


Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book
    It took me years to write, will you take a look

State of the Nation - Operation Earth Day