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12-Year-Old Has Lap Band Surgery

Brooke Bates is a 12-year-old girl living in Texas. She had liposuction and a tummy tuck back in November. And now, her parents have allowed her to get a lap band in her stomach.

For reference, Brooke stands 5'5". In the ABC article from November it lists her weight at age 11 as a "shocking" 220 pounds. The only health problem noted in the ABC piece was high blood pressure. And what do you know, she gained back about 35 pounds after the liposuction and brought her back to 193 pounds (BMI 31, for those keeping score). Her mother claims that Brooke is a "compulsive eater". So the solution? Why, a lap band of course!

Doctors here in the US weren't interested in the procedure because they tend to require a BMI of 35 to perform the surgery so Brooke's mother took her to Mexico to have the surgery done. On the CNN video, the mother cites psychological testing - a requirement for having the surgery - as part of the "red tape" she wanted to avoid by going south of the border. "I'm sure all those things are very important", she says, "...[but] it's just... money." Nice! Way to fuck up your daughter's mental health to save a few hundred bucks!

Your "Amazing What Diplomas They Put In Cracker Jack Boxes These Days" quote:

“I don't think that a Lap-Band is a bad idea to put in a adolescent, and there's more and more studies showing that it is a good thing -- they’re successful in their weight loss,” said Nancy Marquez, a bariatric surgeon in Austin.

Yeah, I guess it's the best thing ever. Hair loss is a pretty cool side effect, after all.

So how does this child feel about it? Well, what do you expect?

“You think, 'Why would you be getting the surgery? That's crazy!' I've had so many people tell me this, but my desire to want to fix this problem. I mean, I can't even explain. I would do anything for it,” said Brooke.

Something is truly, truly fucked up when kids who apparently have untreated eating disorders are having the surgery done. Brooke's quote, "I would do anything for it", says it all.

[Thanks, katrina!]

How to Grow an Organization From the Ground | LiveJournal's Pro-Anorexia Groups

Morrighan's picture
August 7th, 2007 | Link | Gods that makes me sick to

Gods that makes me sick to my stomach. I'm so glad all these ways to surgically induce anorexia weren't around when I was that age because I did -enough- damage to myself and my relationship with food without any of it being permanent so far as I know.

BabySeal August 8th, 2007 | Link | "the mother cites

"the mother cites psychological testing - a requirement for having the surgery - as part of the "red tape" she wanted to avoid by going south of the border."

Aside from the sheer unmorality of the whole thing, this is what struck me as particularly alarming. Calling a psychological evaluation "red tape" is either very ignorant or deliberately dismissive. Did she fear that they would tell her that a lap-band wasn't the magic cure all she was looking for? Was she afraid that they'd veto the surgery?
To sum it up, "Something is truly, truly fucked up when kids who apparently have untreated eating disorders are having the surgery done.". Yes, Paul, I agree with this with every fibre of my being.

rachelr's picture
August 8th, 2007 | Link | Psychological testing isn't

Psychological testing isn't the only requirement lacking with gastric bypass surgeries done in Mexico. Apparently so is pre-health physical screenings and post-op surgical care, as well. Just last month a woman named Annie Murray died after going to Mexico for gastric bypass as a result of shoddy health care.

katrina August 8th, 2007 | Link | I just couldn't believe it...

She's a little girl for crying out loud. I mean when I was 12 I was playing barbies and on the computer..not getting my stomach lapbanded..yesh.

I was really shocked the mom took her to Mexico to bypass all the legal requirements..oh that's safe. Just..can't believe it. Jawdropping!

Mommy obviously wants a little cheerleader and she'll do anything by golly to do it. It's so sad the little girl just agreed to everything, she must have no self esteem.

Since she's still growing, how will she absorb all the neccessary vitamins and nutrients? She probably will be on supplements the rest of her life.

Someone should call Child Protective Services..that lady doesn't seem to be a fit mom mentally.


nancylebov August 8th, 2007 | Link | I can't find the reference,

I can't find the reference, but there was fairly recent news about harassment being an independent risk factor for high blood pressure in fat children.

MizB August 8th, 2007 | Link | Desperate Measures

Now this mother can move on to the additional business of having her daughter's feet bound... ... This story is a heartbreaking reminder of how miserable it is to be young and fat in this culture. When I was her age, I felt exactly the same way, I would have done anything - including a "miracle surgery" if one had existed. As it is, I did everything short of having my jaw wired and, as I recall, having that procedure was discussed!

rosenleaf August 8th, 2007 | Link | And to think they're taking

And to think they're taking fat kids away from parents...How much more of a long-term problem is this?!?


ZoeC August 8th, 2007 | Link | You took the words right out

You took the words right out of my mouth, rosenleaf. Your kid is fat? Take them away! Mutilate your child's body so they can be thin? That's A-OK - just make sure you do it out of the country to avoid that messy "red tape".

And how much does it bug me that they're referring to this girl as a "teen" - I know 13 is technically a teen but there's that perception that she's older (and thus that this isn't so bad)

cynorita August 8th, 2007 | Link | took the words right off of my finger tips

ditto rosenleaf and ZoeC... they take children away for being too fat, yet this kind of stupid mess is a okay! and gets positive press. I think this mother needs the psychiatric testing.

We live in a fucked up world.

DeeLeigh's picture
August 8th, 2007 | Link | yes, this is long

There are so many people saying "We must do something about childhood obesity." This story, along with my own experience, really makes me question that. Maybe we really shouldn't "do something about childhood obesity." Maybe we should do something about the cruelty and shame that fat kids are subject to; all the hateful and destructive messages put out by the government, the medical establishment, and even parents.

At 12, I had around the same BMI as that girl (I was a bit shorter and a bit lighter. I wore a size 20.) My mom never tried to force me to diet or take drugs, or anything else. She just made sure that there was healthy food around the house and that I didn't sit in front of the TV all the time. I walked or biked to school. I marched in the band. Being fat as a teenager was an unpleasant experience in many ways. My parents weren't happy about my weight, but I never felt the same contempt from them that I sometimes got from outsiders. It sounds like this girl's mom is just another bully. How awful.

I never lost a significant amount of weight. My BMI was somewhere between 30 and 35 when I was 12, and at 38, it's still somewhere between 30 and 35. I didn't have any health problems when I was 12, and I still don't. I'm a well-educated professional, happily married, with a good life. A lot of people even think I'm (gasp!) attractive.

Where is that girl going to be when she's in her late thirties? What is her physical and mental health going to be like? So much of her energy must be focused on her weight, in the context of being unworthy, of being out of control, of being a failure. How will she ever be able to succeed at anything? She’s had two or three unnecessary surgeries that may have negative long-term effects on her health. And it’s all fine with her, because the stigma associated with being a fat kid is so great that even her own parents are reinforcing it and acting against her best interests. It’s so incredibly sad. The stress would be enough to give anyone high blood pressure and/or make them want to eat for comfort.

This girl's weight is not what's causing her harm. It's other people's attitudes toward her because of her weight, and the inordinate amount of attention that it's given.

When the potential harm is as great or greater than the potential gain, then LEAVE IT ALONE. There are many things in life that are worse than being fat. Many people find that living with the consequences of weight loss surgery is worse than being fat. Certainly, spending a lifetime hating yourself and obsessed with your weight is worse.

pjrichardson's picture
August 8th, 2007 | Link | I don't see how this is any

I don't see how this is any different than the girls who cut on themselves with razor blades or burn themselves with cigarettes because they just haven't gotten in touch with their inner anorexics yet. Foaming with self-loathing, disgust, and hatred, they carve on themselves and burn away at their shame.

Okay, there's one difference here: rather than sitting alone behind her locked bedroom door, this little girl's mom is cheerfully holding the razor blade for her, and not for the first time.

Pitiful. Pitiful child, pitiful mother, pitiful society that spawns such utterly broken and vapid values.

dragonlady's picture
August 8th, 2007 | Link | *shudders*

This reminds me so much of an episode of the Twilight Zone. Everyone in the episode is having a "procedure" to look the same. This one girl is being harassed because she doesn't really want to do it. I believe, in the end, she succumbs.This is a real, live horror story. Yes, I would have done the same thing at her age.

paul August 8th, 2007 | Link | Number 12

Nice Twilight Zone shoutout - that was Number 12 Looks Just Like You, one of my favorites. And it's really an interesting way to look at this situation!

sevendayswonder August 8th, 2007 | Link | I don't have much to add

I don't have much to add other than what makes me just as frightened is that our government is trying out these procedures on children as we speak, to see the results...and of course then change the guidelines so that we can "prevent childhood obesity".

And this, just after I read about this:

richie79's picture
August 8th, 2007 | Link | Couldn't agree more with

Couldn't agree more with Deeleigh. If any other group than fat people were involved no-one would be insisting they fundamentally change something about themselves in order to fit in, they'd argue against the bullying and discrimination itself, but once again this comes down to this notion that fat people are somehow responsible in a way that black people, short people, ginger people or anyone else who finds themselves victimised in school are not. And yet people seem to accept abuse of fat children as something natural and intransient, even dare I say tacitly encourage it as a factor motivating them to fall into line and get thin.

The only obesity problem I can see amongst teens right now is this relentless pressure to conform, from peers, parents, teachers, the Government, and of course our old friend the mass media which is targetting kids at an ever younger age with their horrible groupthink, more often than not couched in the language of public health and responsible concern.

I would love to know just how much psychological damage is being caused to this entire generation of kids who are finding themselves being banned from bringing in packed lunches, put on diets by fearful parents and made to write and read poems in school about why it's good to be thin. Maybe some of the mushrooming number of 'obesity' researchers and charities could refocus their attentions - wishful thinking I know. The few who've dared even raise the issue (Chris Keates, leader of a major British teachers union for one) suggest the problems of bullying, low self-esteem and dissatisfaction are endemic amongst young people and getting worse; a number of commentators have emphasised the myriad pressures on modern youngsters to conform and succeed and how one of the main issues is the constant focus on ideals of weight and size that few feel able to live up to. But then we're not a culture that cares anywhere near as much about what goes on within someone's mind (unless there's a quick buck to be made of course) - it's only what's on the outside that counts.

The way things are going any children I have are going to be raised on some remote island, far from the media, Government 'health advice', a school system that has become ever more obsessed with socially engineering a clone nation and the biting taunts of a population indoctrinated to regard anyone different as some kind of threat.

Is it so dangerous to have people who don't hate themselves when they look in the mirror?

FatChick's picture
August 8th, 2007 | Link | *sigh* Jesus. ***************



"The first thing you lose on a diet is brain mass."

~Margaret Cho

BabySeal August 8th, 2007 | Link | "There are so many people

"There are so many people saying "We must do something about childhood obesity." This story, along with my own experience, really makes me question that. Maybe we really shouldn't "do something about childhood obesity." Maybe we should do something about the cruelty and shame that fat kids are subject to; all the hateful and destructive messages put out by the government, the medical establishment, and even parents."

Of course, DeeLeigh, of course. Your words are golden truth. But the problem is, there's little to no money to be made out of the sensible, humane approach you outline, while the diet industry and all that's attached to it is a multi-billion dollars business. I say dollars but I could as well say Euro or something else, as this horrible phenomenon is growing to be a worldwide horror.

I truly don't have it in me to express useful suggestions on how to contrast this, today. Something in this story has touched me deeply and left me, unusually, sad and dejected instead of full of fighting fury. I hope I'll feel differently tomorrow.

Bilt4Cmfrt's picture
August 8th, 2007 | Link | Child Abuse? Do What?

Does this surprise me? Not really. People have botulism toxins injected into their bodies for no other reason than to smooth a few wrinkles. I'm also a bit of a weird duck. I find dressing a 6 year old girl up as an adult and getting her up on stage to perform, like an adult, ( a la, JonBenét Ramsey) just as creepy as the pedophiles who must drool over those performances.

As for this *particular* showing of completely pathetic parenting skills, and the logic behind subjecting a growing 12 year old body to a second drastic, ELECTIVE, surgery, I guess I only have two comments. One of which may seem very callus but. . . :

1) More an more, the rhetoric of the 'Stop Obesity, NOW' set seems to be taking on the pall and semblance of a religious sect. We all know the futility of arguing reason with someone fanatically obsessed with their own beliefs. Any sacrifices made by True Believers are worthwhile if they are made in an effort to attain the Goal (Conversion of the heathens, destruction of the infidels, a nation-wide BMI of 25 or less) and no level of self flagellation or martyrdom is unacceptable no matter how extreme.

2) That being said, perhaps it will take the actuality of more than a few people throwing themselves and, tragically, their own children on the bonfires and being consumed before people start to wake up and begin questioning the Weight-loss by Any Means Necessary Cult and it's dogma.

rebelle August 8th, 2007 | Link | Amen, DeeLeigh! We need to

Amen, DeeLeigh! We need to confront the prejudice, not conform the victim.

It is so sad this girl thinks of her weight, not only as a "problem," but as THE problem. This is like Kirstie Alley and Valerie Bertinelli, both of whom wrote book titles along the lines of: lose weight, regain your life! Ugh. Where do people get OFF thinking that only thin people can possibly have "a life" and that only thin people are ENTITLED to have a life? This whacked-out perception is what is driving little girls--little girls!--to surgically mutilate themselves to adhere to the aesthetic preferences of total strangers who feel it is their right to judge their bodies.

There just aren't words for how repulsive this all is.

PS: Did any of the red-tape fearing adults in this young lady's life ever stop to wonder why gastric bypass hadn't worked? Did the journalist writing this piece ever stop to consider the bariatric surgeon from Texas who supported the lap band procedure in children might have, oh, what's the term? Oh, yes: a bleeding financial interest in expanding her patient pool???

wriggle99 August 9th, 2007 | Link | They're not crazy, there're just mental.....

More and more, the rhetoric of the 'Stop Obesity, NOW' set seems to betaking on the pall and semblance of a religious sect.

It is and always has been a cult, I don't like to call it a religion because in spite of what some people think, religion is quite complex, good and bad, whereas this isn't. It is a dirty, foul, vile, load of bunk. People believe in it, just like a cult and always have done. There is something genuinely corrupting at the heart of it, because it fights against life. That's how the body reacts to it, no matter what your weight, it fights to retain regain it's integrity, going against it, promotes this kind of result, the more extreme the desire, the more likely it is to upend you.
What we are seeing here is similar to diminished responsibility, they are not fully engaged in the normal sense.

There is nothing wrong with changing what you eat, or engaging in physical activity etc, these things are valuable in themselves, they don't need to be sold as validation or salvation. Smiling

twincats August 9th, 2007 | Link | Another TZ Reference

This story also reminds me of another TZ episode called “Eye of the Beholder” where, a bandaged woman is desperately hinging her hopes on an experimental treatment to make her look normal. “Normal” as we find at the end, is rather alien-looking and the poor girl, what we would think of as an attractive blonde, finds out that the treatment has failed. Ominously, she has to go live in a colony for “people like her.”

Desperate people do desperate things, but, sometimes those things don’t work. No one even thinks about that. There is a certain percentage of patients for whom the “WL” of WLS is not permanent. I used to work with such a woman who managed to get bigger after bypass surgery than she was before.

Libitinarii August 9th, 2007 | Link | This particular story hit a

This particular story hit a really strong cord with me.

At right about that age I started becoming obsessive about my weight and I was ready to do anything, absolutely ANYTHING not to be fat. I ended up developing terrible habits, which included, but were not limited to starving myself, purging, and working out obsessively.

The worst part was that instead of someone noticing that I was harming myself, I was just praised for losing weight.

I eventually made the decision to stop, but things could have turned out very badly if I hadn't made that choice, which is a very difficult choice for a 13 year old to make.

It really worries me that this girl is surrounded by people that are basically telling her (as they told me) that she won't be worth anything to anyone if she isn't thin. Regardless of whether she actually does lose the weight, she will always carry that feeling that she isn't good enough, and being thin won't ever take that away.

I wish someone could see the psychological harm that is being done and help her.

beakergirl August 9th, 2007 | Link | What about if this young

What about if this young lady decides she wants to have children later on? Will she still be able to? Will her body be able to absorb enough nutrients to nourish her and a developing fetus?

I'm just terrified that there may come a day when this is not a "voluntary" procedure any more - that when your BMI hits 27 or whatever, you're herded in to get your internal organs mucked with, just so you fit in with the "celebritocracy" model that seems to be developing in our nation.

victor rankin August 11th, 2007 | Link | "I don't think that a

"I don't think that a Lap-Band is a bad idea to put in a adolescent, and there's more and more studies showing that it is a good thing -- they’re successful in their weight loss,” said Nancy Marquez, a bariatric surgeon in Austin. "

Of course she thinks its a good thing, its where she get paid, so more surgery means more money for them.

wriggle99 August 11th, 2007 | Link | The sickness is the idea(l)

I am uncomfortable with demonizing people caught up in this war on (child) 'obesity', as opposed to their actions as a result of it. Since the authorities started to train their gaze on fat children, this sort of thing was inevitable. I do not condone these parents actions, but I believe they are doing this because they have come to believe it is in her interests. As bad as what they are doing is, they are doing it out of belief, not to harm her. It's too easy to use the same techniques, as the fat haters, demonizing individuals, no-one exists in a void.

These operations have already been performed on teenagers, in the US and over here too, I daresay other countries have or maybe doing them also. Although figures are not available, I wonder why? The sickness is in the crusade against fatness, and the belief that fat bodies should be brutalized into health, something that even some FA's condone somewhat.

A lot of us know the potency of W.L, it doesn't just grab hold of anorexics. What makes/ keeps them 'ill', is available to anyone that invests enough in it. Demonzing their motives, trivializes how unbalancing an experience this can be, and the fact that the authorities are the true enablers. I don't believe they would be allowing their daughter's body (and mind) to be brutalized in these ways, if they had not become convinced that it is in her long term interests.

victor rankin August 11th, 2007 | Link | But you can say that about a

But you can say that about a lot of things, doing it for the best interests of the child, or of society, doesnt mean its right.

To take the idea that its best for society for children to be mutilated like that., you can extend that hypothesis to any field, and any justification however stupid or dangerous.

"for the sake of the children" is the battle cry. They never see the bad such things can and will happen, because all they see is the NOW.

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