Brave New Yorker Matt Diaz posted a video of himself topless, exposing excess skin and stretch marks on his body, after he lost half his body weight. He has raised over $50,000 online after the video went viral.
"This is what 270 pounds of excess skin looks like...and there is nothing I can do about it," Matt Diaz from Brooklyn, New York says in a video originally posted on his #link:http://myannoyances.tumblr.com/ask:Tumblr account# and on #link:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EU__9ZU3JpM:YouTube.#
Diaz had weight-loss surgery in 2009 and has lost a staggering 270 pounds (122 kilograms) - almost half his body weight.
The procedure has left him with a lot of excess skin, as "the skin and tissues often lack the elasticity to conform to the reduced body size," according to the website of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Eating healthily and exercising cannot get rid of the excess skin, but an operation can help remove some of it and improve appearance.
"I lost 270 pounds in the last six years. When I was 16 years old, I weighed about 495 pounds at my heaviest weight," he explains while stepping back a little from the camera to reveal his upper body.
"I'm really scared to put this up, I'm scared people will think I'm not attractive anymore," he says, visibly shaken. He goes on to say how he doesn't want to take his shirt off at the beach or when he gets intimate with someone for fear of being mocked or rejected.
But he also said it was important for him to share the video, as "I'm not ashamed of who I am, I've worked really hard to get here and I still don't have the body I want, but I'm trying really hard to love myself."
Diaz, who had been documenting his story and his progress on Tumbler and Twitter for many years, got a huge response to his latest video.
Inspired by the largely positive response, Diaz started a campaign to raise the funds he needs to have his excess skin removed. On Sunday, he tweeted that he had received over $50,000 (46,000 euros).
Stop fat shaming
In another video posted on his Twitter account in February, he talks about how many people tried to "shame" him into losing weight, and how some people pointed at him when he was out running in the park as part of his effort to lose weight.
His main message, he says, is that weight loss is "not going to solve all your problems," especially not "if your motivator is letting other people approve of you." He says the motivation to lose the weight and get healthy needs to come from within.
"It sounds like an obvious thing to say, but a lot of people hear it, but they don't internalize it. But it's really important," Diaz says in the video.