I know how Dawn French feels… I miss being fat too
The comic recently said she missed her old fat self and Kelly Childs, who has lost half her body weight, agrees
Kelly lost 11 stone but finds it hard to buy clothes in her new shape
Kelly Childs achieved what she thought was the impossible. The mum-of-three had been approved for a gastric bypass operation to tackle her morbid obesity, but turned it down – and lost more than 11 stone naturally.
Following a strict diet and exercise regime, the 31-year-old shrunk from 24-and-a-half stone and a dress size 30 to 13 stone. But examining her new size 14 body in the mirror, Kelly started to cry. And it wasn’t for the first time.
Since her success on the scales, rarely a day passes when Kelly doesn’t miss her former fat self.
Friends and family find it hard to understand after witnessing her weight battle first-hand.
So when comic Dawn French admitted she missed her old body after losing eight stone, Kelly knew just how she felt.
“When I’ve admitted this in the past, people have looked at me like I’m mad or ungrateful,” Kelly says.
“Now Dawn French has said it, I hope it will help people understand why there are some days when I really would rather be fat again. In many ways I was happier.”
Last month, Dawn, 54, confessed she missed her “lovely blubber”’ after dropping from 19 stone by quitting chocolate and carbs, adding: “I have a great fondness for that other body. I knew it very well and I don’t know this one as well.”
It’s a sentiment shared by Kelly, who admits she misses her bigger body so much that she frequently considers bingeing in order to put the weight back on.
“I feel no connection with my reflection in the mirror,” she says.
“It’s like it’s not me and in a sense I’m grieving for who I was, for the body I had.”
Kelly’s weight problems began when she became pregnant with her first child Ethan, who is now 12.
She’d been slim when she met husband Keith, 31, but took advantage of eating for two.
“I indulged in cheese sandwiches, pastries and chocolate, telling myself it was fine as I was pregnant.”
After Ethan was born, Kelly remained a size 20. She soon became pregnant again with Ajay, now 10, and planned to lose the weight after he was born. But her caesarean scar ruptured and she was ordered to take several months of bed rest.
Kelly’s weight rocketed to a size 28. “It did get me down but I had two gorgeous sons and a husband who told me I was perfect as I was,” she recalls.
“Junk food was my crutch. I’d try new diets only to fail after a few days.”
Kelly joked to friends she was a skinny girl trapped in a fat body and felt sure one day a diet would work and she would be slim. Then, when she was 25, Kelly found out she was pregnant again, this time with daughter Bethany, now six, and her weight peaked at 24-and-a-half stone.
“I was the big girl within all of my social groups and, although it wasn’t particularly flattering, at least I knew where I was.
Comfort: Kelly piled on the pounds and hit size 28 Daily Mirror
“I didn’t worry too much about my hair and make-up and clothes were easy, I just went to Evans.”
It was her GP that asked her during a weigh-in if she had ever considered a gastric bypass.
“I had no idea I could get it done on the NHS and my dream of being slim again seemed a real possibility,” she says. “Suddenly, all I could think about was being slim. I couldn’t wait for the next appointment.”
The prospect of the operation had made Kelly determined to lose weight, so she cut out crisps and chocolate while she waited to see the consultant.
She stuck to it and lost a stone by the time the appointment came around a month later, in May 2010.
Kelly says: “The surgeon was pleased but still approved me as I’d been big for so long they still thought I wouldn’t be able to do it all by myself.”
But back home in Bexley, South East London, Kelly’s initial excitement turned to worry. The gastric bypass involved cutting her stomach into a smaller pouch, which would be irreversible.
It meant she would only ever be able to eat tiny mouthfuls of food and it came with risks of complications. “I was reading horror stories on the internet and started panicking about not being there for my kids but I knew I had to find a way with or without the
operation,” she says.
Kelly was still waiting for a date for surgery when a friend asked her to join Slimming World in November 2010, an approach she hadn’t tried before.
She had already dropped to 22st 2lb when she went to her first class.
In the first week following a diet of cereal, salads and soups, she lost 5lb. So Kelly continued while she waited to hear about the surgery.
Dawn French misses her bigger body Handout
Four months later, she was down to 17 stone and enjoying her diet so much she felt she didn’t need the operation any more, so she rang the surgeon’s secretary to cancel.
“I was over the moon that it was happening and proud that I was saving the NHS thousands by doing it myself. They congratulated me and I thought that was it, success,” says Kelly.
But over the next few months her joy began to waver. First, Kelly started to notice folds of skin that didn’t seem to be going away despite her losing more and more weight.
Skin hung in clumps from her arms, while she noticed her stomach had taken on a folded appearance.
For the first time in her life, Kelly began to avoid making love with her husband, even though he fully supported her weight loss and regularly told her how great she looked. “I still felt sexy when I was fat, but now I just felt freaky. I could live with being a buxom big girl, but not with a body that looked like a melted candle.”
Kelly clung to the hope it would melt away, but the more weight she lost, the more prominent it seemed to become.
By the time she got down to 15 stone in August last year, she was too ashamed to go swimming or to the gym. “When I was big, I was what I was and that was it, but after the weight loss I was trying to hide these hideous folds of skin and it was impossible,” she says.
To add to her upset, Kelly found it harder to shop for clothes now she was a size 14.
“When you are a size 30, everything comes in black with long sleeves to cover you up. It’s not easy to find clothes that hide every part of you in a smaller size. It all seemed to be body-skimming tops that I couldn’t wear due to the skin folds.”
So she spent a fortune on girdles that promised to hold everything in, but were so uncomfortable she could barely breathe. “I missed feeling invisible. I could wear a swimming costume before because nobody noticed me anyway. I thought losing weight would make me more confident,” she says.
“But I suddenly felt self-conscious because people looked at me.”
Kelly went back to her GP but was refused a skin-removal operation.
“I was stunned as I thought having lost the weight myself and saving the NHS money they might look favourably at my case. I felt like all my hard work had been for nothing.”
Kelly admits it was then she started yearning for her old body.
“At least I felt sexy and happy then, now I felt like a prisoner in my skin.”
To make matters worse, Kelly also noticed a new frosty attitude whenever she mentioned her weight loss.
“It was like I was selfish to moan as I had lost weight when other’s couldn’t.”
She was upset when some friends stopped inviting her out. “I didn’t know if it was because they were jealous or if it was because I didn’t make them look as good any more by comparison.
“But I was definitely more popular when I was bigger.”
Kelly was denied an op to remove excess skin Getty
As well as friendships drying up, Kelly also noticed that people in general were becoming less friendly the slimmer she became. “When I was big, people would always talk to me, even strangers. But that stopped – if I tried to chat to people, they looked at me funny.
“I realised that when I was big they thought I was just friendly, but being slimmer seemed to cause more suspicion.
“My fat was like a safety blanket for me and for other people.”
Kelly appealed against the decision not to perform skin removal on the NHS, but it was turned down on the basis that it wasn’t a life-threatening matter like her weight loss and was classed as a cosmetic procedure.
“That night I looked in the mirror and pulled at the handfuls of skin and cried my eyes out. I had swapped one prison for another. It was so unfair because I’d heard of women having boob jobs on the NHS.
“I didn’t want to look like a model, I just wanted to be normal and not have the body of a pensioner. I felt like all the hard work had been for nothing because life was better when I was fat.”
Kelly says not a day passes when she doesn’t miss her former fat self. She still avoids making love with her husband and rarely socialises.
“I remain proud of losing my weight naturally but I can’t pretend it has made me happier,” she says.
“At least when I was big I had hope of being slim and confident. But now that’s gone and every day I wonder if I would be better off bingeing and getting fat again.”
The only thing that stops her, she says, is her children. “They have a mum who can now go on rides with them and run after them in the park and that is about the only positive side effect of my weight loss.
“We’re saving for a private operation to remove the skin but it will take us years as it will cost tens of thousands of pounds.
“I’m grateful for Dawn French for talking about this as I don’t think people realise it takes time to come to terms with a new body.
“Who knows, I may never find a way to accept mine. I just hope she does.”