Mama June's Weight Loss Reveal Says More About Us Than It Does About Her

June Shannon
WeTV
Well, America, it happened. Mama June Shannon, former star of Honey Boo Boo turned star of Mama June: From Not to Hot, followed through on her plans to go through a series of post–weight loss surgeries and "reveal" herself to the whole world. After undergoing a gastric sleeve surgery to help her in her weight loss journey, she underwent extra surgeries (partially on camera) to turn herself into the June she wants to present to the world. 

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It happened in front of a slew of cameras, to a woman who was -- if nothing else -- torn about what she was doing. 

June chose a gastric sleeve, which will make the stomach smaller and reduce the hunger sensation, but it's no easy out. Nor were the surgeries seen on the much-touted "reveal" episode. As she got her "turkey neck" (her words) and "bat wings" (again, her words) removed, June was clearly dealing with serious pain both physically and emotionally. 

mama june before and after
WEtv/Twitter

There's no question she's lost weight. That's a statement of fact. Nor is that something to be scoffed at. Mama June should be lauded in light of her hard work. 

If you're one of -- let's be honest -- millions of Americans who has tried a weight loss regimen over the years, you know it's not easy. Whether you're trying to get back to your pre-baby weight, trying to get to an ideal you've never seen before, or trying to be someone you were once and aren't sure you can be again, weight loss battles are as all-American as apple pie. Hundreds of thousands of us embark on diets every year.

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Gastric sleeves and other weight loss surgeries carry with them an "easy out" myth, but there's nothing "easy" about being cut open and the resulting healing process. Nor is it "easy" to adjust your body to a brand-new lifestyle, one that carries risks of embolism, gallstones, and other serious health conditions if you don't follow the doctor's orders to constrict your diet.  

Regardless of weight loss method, when a woman (or a man) says, "I'm not comfortable in my body," it behooves us all to say, "Okay, we're listening." It's not okay to say, "this is what you should do about it." Instead we should say, "Okay, so what do YOU want to do?"

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But with Mama June ... and countless celebrities ... the message has traditionally been less "what do you feel?" and more "you need to fix this." So long as they're in the public eye, they're being told they need to make the public happy, and that means looking like the public wants them to look.

This is the obvious problem with Mama June: From Not to Hot. It's not for us to say whether the matriarch of a family should or should not decide to adopt a healthier lifestyle. We all know we need to choose the kale over the Chips Ahoy. All of us. But we're not her. 

If June wants to go the protein and brisk walks route, that's awesome. Our bodies. Ourselves. Our futures. Her body. Herself. Her future. 

But we have spent a lot of time as a society blathering on about what we think of people we see on magazine covers, all the while comfortably ensconced on our couches. We spend a whole lot of time focused on everyone else, and that has serious repercussions for quasi celebrities like June ... and also for our friends and family. If we as a society can't wait to tune in to see a surgeon slice off a woman's "turkey neck" (again, her words), what does that say about us? That we care more about what is below the mouth than the words that come out of it? That we are focused more on the looks of a person than his or her soul? 

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Even June's family members were concerned about the much-hyped reveal, and the changes it would represent to her body ... with Alana (aka Honey Boo Boo) noting said "turkey neck" was something she liked to cuddle pre-surgery.  The message to her daughters is pretty clear -- Mama's worth to the TV cameras is in the weight she loses. The name of the show alone is disheartening. Whether some people find Mama June "hot or not" is irrelevant. She's a person. A daughter. A mom. That should be enough, right? 

There's plenty of room to support a friend or family member in her right for better health without telling her what she needs to do to achieve the "hot" label.

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