Plus-size influencer says she had weight-loss surgery at 14 after watching 'Oprah'


‘I was destroyed both physically and emotionally’: Plus-size influencer says she had weight-loss surgery at 14 after watching ‘Oprah’

'I wish I had somebody say to me, "You don't need to be anything else."'


Tricia Crimmins


Posted on Apr 26, 2023

A plus-size influencer says that she traveled to Tijuana, Mexico, to get gastric band surgery for weight loss when she was 14 years old.

In a TikTok posted on April 3 by Kendra Austin (@kendramorous), she says that after watching Oprah interview a 14-year-old who had gotten weight loss surgeries, she chose to get laparoscopic gastric banding, also known as lap band surgery. The surgery involves a silicone band placed around the stomach to lessen its capacity and slow down food digestion.

“I looked to my mom and I said, ‘This is what’s gonna save me,” Austin says in her TikTok about the experience of seeing the Oprah interview. “And when I said ‘save me’ at the time, it was, ‘Save me from the rejection and lack of belonging that came with being in a fat, Black body as a child.'”

Of the surgery itself, Austin says she lost approximately 80 pounds before she entered high school—all of which she says she regained over time.

“Which comes with, again, not having worked on the fact that my body was not the problem,” Austin says. “The external world and its perception of me and what I was deserving of in this body was the problem.”

She says she spent years “yo-yo dieting,” or losing and gaining weight over and over again, but now is at a weight that she “probably started all of [her] weight loss journeys at” and is happier than she could have “ever imagined.”

“In pursuit of becoming thin, I had robbed myself of all the experiences that I thought I would have only if I was thin,” Austin says in her TikTok, which had over 175,000 views on Wednesday.

She says she still struggles with eating and has acid reflux and that the lap band is still around her stomach and costly to remove.


i have shared this only once and wasnt sure i would again

♬ original sound – kendra austin ✨

A commenter on Austin’s video asked if the TikToker wished that her mother had stopped her from getting the surgery, which Austin answered in a follow-up video.

“She was seeing her daughter struggle with all of the things women were told we would not have unless we were thin,” Austin says. “And she wanted to do the best she could with what she had.”

That said, Austin says she has experienced grief and anger toward her mother and the situation, and toward all the other adults who watched her engage in disordered eating habits throughout her childhood.

“I wish I had somebody say to me, ‘You don’t need to be anything else. You’re perfect the way you are,'” Austin says of her mother. “‘It’s not you, it’s the world.'”

Austin did not immediately respond to the Daily Dot’s request for comment.

Some commenters on Austin’s initial video about the surgery shared that they, too, had undergone weight loss surgery and had complicated feelings about it.

“I was 19 when I had the lapband surgery. It was 16 years ago,” @hollyenchanted commented. “I was destroyed both physically and emotionally. I feel the same way.”

“I have never met another person who went through this,” @art.inez wrote. “I had the same procedure at 16 in NEW YORK CITY at NYC. It’s insane.”

“I had a similar experience w gastric bypass in my 20’s,” @yemmmz commented. “I can’t even comprehend 14!”

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*First Published: Apr 26, 2023, 2:43 pm CDT