He lost 270 pounds, half his body weight. And considering 500 lbs. was the peak of obesity, it’s a milestone worth celebrating. However, Matt Diaz, an advocate who speaks about body image and empowerment, had one secret: he was hiding an enormous amount of surplus skin. Tired of living his double-life, the man decided to face his greatest fears and petitioned the public to help him undergo expensive cosmetic surgery to remove excess skin. After Matt posted an emotional video, donations began pouring in.
Diaz, 22, posted a video on YouTube and began a GoFundMe campaign at the same time to meet his goal of $20,000. With no guarantees, he revealed a part of himself to strangers all over the world. Wiping away tears, a the shirtless Brooklyn man stepped away from the camera to show off his body that, up to now, had been covered with baggy clothing, hidden away from a world that he feared would judge him harshly, bully him and force him to sink further into anxiety. Matt Diaz began with a backstory about his journey to trimming down and embarking on a covert mission to conceal his drapes of skin.
“I lost 270 pounds in the last six years. When I was 16 years old, I weighed about 495 pounds at my heaviest weight. I’m a big advocate for body positivity, but I’ve never shown what my excess skin really looks like… I’ve never done this before ever, and I’m really, really scared.”
Diaz went on to say how even when he gets intimate with someone or visits the beach, he remains clothed to hide the stretch marks and skin left over from the rigors of losing weight. One day, he got an epiphany and realized he could no longer preach self-love of putting oneself out there in the barest of forms while he lived a lie. It was hypocrisy in play and it made him feel empty inside.
A conversation began on Reddit in wake of the video the man released about losing 270 pounds of weight. Most comments were left by compassionate supporters of his cause to raise funds for the skin removal surgery. However, a few others chimed in and looked at the other Matt Diazs that are suffering in silence without benefit of a public donations.
“I hate this charity approach to treatment. Everyone who has an issue like this should be able to get treatment for it.”
“I’ve got to agree. In a perfect world it would be great if Matt could get treatment for free, but ultimately it’s cosmetic; I’d rather the money go to treatment that [sic] saves lives.”
“The good news is technology advances and makes things cheaper so maybe in another 10-20 years skin removal operations will be semi-automated or automated and much less expensive. Preventative education and social services could also help cases like Matt’s.”
“‘Cosmetic’ covers an awful lot of ground. As someone who lost close to 200 lbs of fat in the last two years, I can say that this kind of excess skin is pretty debilitating. It’s not even that you are fat, it’s that you have this ‘terrible secret’ that you are afraid of sharing with people. Honestly, I think it is more comparable to treatment for burn victims, instead of [purely cosmetic] (edit) boob jobs.”
The nearly five-minute video above is Matt Diaz chronicling how he lost 270 pounds. The man also goes into detail how, despite his fears in being transparent — an open book, if you will — he was afraid to press record. Thankfully, he did. Days later, his campaign was surpassed by over 100 percent, all with the help of those willing to continue his journey of self-love.
[Photo by: GoFundMe, Matt’s Excess Skin Removal Surgery]