Self image. The image of yourself that you carry around with you, 24/7. Once you've been obese for so long, fat becomes part of your identity. People will tell you that your weight isn't who you are. These people are only partly correct. Although it is not ALL that you are, it is PART of who you are. "What does she look like?" "Oh, she has brown hair, big boobs, glasses. She's a big girl." Or "she's overweight". Or "she's fat", depending upon your commitment to politically correct terminology. It is part of your image. More deeply, though, it is part of your SELF image.
Other people's image of you can change fairly easily. When someone sees you every day, a dramatic weight loss may be shocking at first but no one literally doesn't believe that you've lost the weight. They can see it with their own eyes, and they have no reason to disbelieve it. What a person who goes through a dramatic weight loss is faced with, in contrast, is a disconnect between their internal image of themselves and reality.
In reality, I am 87 lbs lighter. In reality I have decreased my "dress" size by five sizes (or ten, depending on how you count women's dress sizes. I'm not sure). When I see a photo of myself, though, I see a stranger. My features do not look like my own. They are too...comical, almost. Exaggerated. Without the padding, my mouth looks too big. My nose, my eyes, every one of my features looks foreign to me. My breasts, although still enormous by standard measure, are no longer my breasts. They are shaped differently, and they require considerably more support, if ya know what I mean.
Do I like my new image? I think so. More than that, I love that I can move more easily; That I don't get winded chasing after my son or taking a flight of stairs; That my knees aren't at risk of giving out on those stairs.
What I DON'T like is the disconnect. It's disconcerting to see a photo of yourself and have to take a moment to recognize the person staring back. It's weird to see clothing on a rack and not be able to tell whether or not they will fit you because you are completely out of touch with the size of your body.
It's worth getting to know myself again. Losing weight has been like getting a new toy, winning the lottery, and Christmas all rolled into one. But there is a lot of emotional baggage that takes the place of that physical baggage. Stuff to work through. I was obese for seven years; Overweight for nearly 20. I don't know how long it will take before my self image syncs up with reality. Maybe it won't. I guess I'll find out.