The body shamers don’t seem to change — but Jacqueline Adan gets stronger.
After losing 350 lbs. in three years, Adan was body shamed during a 2017 vacation for the loose skin on her body. The incident went viral, and became an empowering moment for the Montessori preschool teacher.
Now a year later — and after difficult skin removal surgeries — Adan was body shamed yet again during a beach vacation. The difference was, though, that she didn’t care.
“It happened this year while I was on vacation again,” she wrote on Instagram. “Yes, I was walking on the beach and again I was pointed at and laughed and made fun of. As I was getting laughed at and pointed at something came over me. I was not embarrassed, I did not feel like I had to justify myself and I did not freeze or want to cry. I actually felt free! This time…I just did not care!”
Adan said that she realized their opinions don’t matter to her anymore.
“I tried to go over every change inside my head as to why this year I just did not care. Then it finally hit me. I do not depend on the approval of others, and I do not care what others may or may not think about my body,” she said.
This time around, Adan is only concerned about how she feels about herself.
“I am so focused on living my best life, and I have been working so hard on loving me exactly how I am — loose skin and all — that I do not have time to worry about what others may think or say,” she said. “I can finally say that I am at a place where I still have insecurities and a lot of loose skin, and yes mentally I still struggle at times, but I can finally say that … [I] genuinely feel confident, happy and [do] not care what others may think or say.”
“This is me. Right now. This is my body,” she continued. “This is what hard work, sweat, blood, tears, smiles, happiness, pain, love, and hard work look like. This is what it looks like to finally accept my body for what it is … Loose skin, cellulite, stretch marks and all.”
Adan previously told PEOPLE that her lengthy skin removal process was extremely painful, physically and mentally. After five surgeries, the most recent one being on her legs in January, she learned that it’s not an instant fix.
“I think because I had so much weight taken off my legs during the surgery, and because I had back to back surgeries, my body didn’t react well this time,” she said. “I dealt with a lot of swelling, and my body is hanging on to a lot of fluid.”
Adan dealt with body dysmorphia after the surgeries, and felt like she was back where she had started, 350 lbs. ago.
“I’m seeing myself in the mirror and I’m seeing myself a lot bigger than I have, and it’s hard to make that distinction that it’s not weight gain, it’s just fluid,” she adds. “Now that I’m swollen, I feel like everyone’s noticing.”
Still, Adan, who expects to undergo another three surgeries, said that she would do it again every time.
“I’m so glad that I did it, not just for my physical health but for my mental health and wellbeing. But they are very difficult procedures,” she said. “You have to dig down deep and find that strength to recognize that this isn’t going to last forever and it’s going to get better and better.”