Born in 1986, into a troubled family in West Texas USA, Susan Farmer spent most of her life in the shadows of a home which she barely ever left, staying there with her mother who would constantly bring her food. Living without exercise for her entire childhood and adolescence on a rather unhealthy diet, her weight became a very worrying factor over many years of physical inactivity.
Susan began moving again somewhat, after reaching the limelight at the age of 37 in 2013, when she was discovered by the producers of TLC’s “My 600-lb Life”, and promptly invited into the show, as she weighed a staggering 607lbs (275kgs) at the time.
She was featured in the third season of the series, and like any other participants in the show, had to face the reality of her situation before anything was done to improve it. In Susan’s case, these moments of self-awareness would often come with great hostility towards the situation, which made her quite excitable throughout her time in the show.
An unconventional franchise
“My 600-lb Life” is a reality TV series that has been airing on the TLC network since 2012, following the lives of morbidly obese individuals, as they attempt to lose weight and achieve a healthier lifestyle. The show has become a popular hit among viewers, with its dramatic stories of weight loss struggles, both triumphs and failures. It was created by Jeff VanVonderen, a well-known interventionist, who previously worked on the hit show “Intervention.”
The series’ premise is simple: each episode focuses on a person who weighs at least 600lbs (272kgs) at the beginning of the episode, and follows their progress as they attempt to lose weight over the course of a year.
The show documents the individuals’ daily struggles, including their emotional and physical journeys, as they work towards their weight goal. It’s generally an emotional rollercoaster for both the audience and the participants, with both successes and setbacks along the way.
“My 600-lb Life” has been a successful series for TLC, with over 100 episodes to date, and has spawned several spin-off shows, including “Where Are They Now?” and “My 600-lb Life: Skin Tight.” The franchise has garnered a large following thanks to being praised for its portrayal of obesity, and the dangers and struggles that come with it.
Of course, the series has also had its share of criticism and controversy, as not everyone is so sure that they showcase morbidly obese people only with the purest of intentions. Some viewers have criticized the show for its perceived exploitation of the participants, and have accused it of sensationalizing obesity for the sake of ratings.
Others have raised concerns about the show’s approach to weight loss, arguing that it promotes unhealthy and unsustainable practices. There is also the fact that, more often than not, the participants simply end up undergoing rather costly medical procedures to finally solve a major part of their weight issue, which isn’t a luxury that most viewers with similar stories can afford.
Despite these issues, “My 600-lb Life” has remained a popular and influential show, inspiring many people to take control of their own health, and make positive changes in their lives throughout its 11 years of airing thus far. It has also helped to raise awareness about the dangers of obesity, and the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
One of the most popular success stories from the show is Milla Clark, who starred in the fourth season from an unbelievable 750lbs (340kgs). Although not many viewers believed that much could be done for Milla, since it’s a miracle she even survived long enough to weigh that much, she managed to lose over 445lbs (200kgs).
Yet another is Sarah Neeley, who began her weight loss journey at a peak weight of over 640lbs (291kgs), and faced numerous obstacles along the way, including struggles with mental health and addiction. However, with the help of Dr. Younan ‘Now’ Nowzaradan, a bariatric surgeon who features prominently in the show, she was able to lose over 400lbs, and has since become an advocate for both weight loss and mental health.
At the end of the day, “My 600-lb Life” has become a cultural phenomenon that has definitely helped shed light on the difficulties faced by those who struggle with obesity. While it hasn’t been without its controversies, the show has inspired countless viewers to make positive changes in their lives, providing a platform for important discussions about health, wellness, and body positivity.
Susan’s 607-lb life
Susan Farmer’s episode starts with shots of her modest home in Eddy, Texas, in which she appears to not even be able to get out of bed without serious effort. Her opening statement is that ‘It’s a lot harder to change than you ever realize. You just have to hope it’s not too late, and try as hard as you can to do it.’
After finally placing her feet on the ground in front of the bed, following numerous failed attempts at swinging her bottom half over towards the floor, Susan stated ‘Life is miserable. I hurt all the time, ‘cause I don’t get up much.’
She proceeded to explain that carrying all that weight around poses quite a few challenges, asserting ‘With me having this big stomach, it falls on me so bad, and it feels like my skin is on fire, and that it’s just gonna melt.’
While this certainly must be excruciating to handle on a day-to-day basis, it’s also factual that the average adult human’s skin and bones aren’t built for supporting weight seven times greater than the healthy average. As Susan’s skin was spreading to the point of almost bursting whenever she took a walk, performing even the most ordinary actions around her home proved to be a horrifying endeavor.
On tonight’s #My600lbLife, you’ll meet Susan–a strong-willed woman whose weight issues began with her parents…
Posted by TLC on Wednesday, February 11, 2015
She also said ‘I have trouble breathing, especially when I’m walking. I have to take baby steps because I’m afraid of falling, ‘cause if I fell, there’s nothing anybody can do for me.’ This admission refers to the fact that it takes an incredible amount of strength to keep yourself up at that weight, while there are also other factors, such as weight-induced health conditions.
One of the better-known issues of overly large individuals is called obesity hypoventilation syndrome. It’s a breathing disorder that occurs in those who have difficulty breathing deeply and rapidly enough to supply sufficient oxygen and remove carbon dioxide from their bodies, potentially causing serious consequences when unattended.
It’s estimated that around 10% to 20% of obese adults will develop this condition, with its long-term effects having the capability for devastating results. Essentially, a person with breathing difficulties finds it hard to supplement the CO2 in their blood with oxygen, which over time poisons the internal organs. Eventually, this leads to heart failure, pulmonary hypertension, and ultimately death.
On top of that, even without particular health conditions, Susan’s muscles require an immense amount of blood supply just to keep her in motion, which in and of itself causes her to be out of breath most of the time. Lastly, proper blood flow is made a lot harder to maintain by the excess buildup of fat around her heart.
The camera crew follows her to the bathroom, in what can only be described as an act of great bravery by Susan herself, while the audience was simply left stumped. Farmer begins to fully undress herself in front of the camera and proceed to take a bath, with everything but her privates on full display for the world to see.
This sequence is followed by Susan saying ‘I don’t like looking at myself. So, I don’t look at myself in the mirror. To me, I’m fat and ugly.’ A shocking scene then takes place, in which Susan is seen entering a disproportionately small bathtub, with her belly fat hanging between her legs and bulging downwards from the pressure of her overgrown thighs, thus forming a ball right underneath her crotch.
It becomes evident upon witnessing this that even something as simple as washing oneself is a true ordeal for Susan, who with great fear and sorrow looked into the camera lens and said ‘All I see is a fat glob,’ as tears welled up in her eyes, and she began to sniffle.
That was the condition in which Susan entered the series, with not many believing that she could ever accomplish a significant change in weight, as most people would’ve given up on life by that point. However, this didn’t end up being the case for Susan, who was actually determined to show the world and herself that change is indeed possible.
As tends to be done in some of the most severe cases of obesity, Farmer had to skip any nutrition plans meant to gradually induce weight loss, as her health was already being severely impaired by her condition. Therefore, instead of counseling, she was immediately sent to the aforementioned bariatric professional, so as to undergo gastric bypass surgery.
Bariatric surgeons such as Dr. Now specialize in removing excess weight from a person, by either straight up cutting it out of them, or performing other gastrointestinal modifications that would encourage weight loss.
Gastric bypass surgery is one such procedure, in which the stomach and small intestine are modified so as to prevent massive calorie absorption. The stomach is split into two parts – the smaller pouch on top, and the larger one on the bottom, whereby the upper is connected to the rerouted small intestine, pretty much cutting off about 60% of the digestive system.
In this way, the patient is made to feel full much sooner than they normally would, which makes them want to eat a lot less. However, because this process causes initial damage to the gastrointestinal system, Susan had to follow a very specific diet, so as to avoid damaging her insides by stretching the stomach too far, which could reopen the surgery wound.
Following a successful surgery, intertwined with strict obedience to the doctor’s advice in regards to what she can eat, and what kind of exercise she must engage in, Susan managed to drop a significant 200lbs (90kgs). However, she was only half-way done with her transformation at that time.
With her stomach feeling full a lot sooner, and seeing the impressive results of her previous efforts, Farmer managed to lose another full 200lbs (90kgs) throughout the remainder of the year during which she was filmed, eventually also having surgery to remove the excess skin and fatty tissue, dropping another 46lbs (21kgs).
Having lost 446lbs (202kgs), Susan went from weighing 607lbs (275kgs) to only 161lbs (73kgs) – a rather unexpected weight that no one thought achievable for her. She ultimately left the show a happy and satisfied woman, and reportedly also managed to keep her weight down throughout 2022.
Why was she acting like a toddler?
In spite of her awe-inspiring achievement in the series, fans were quick to notice that Susan was behaving in an unbecoming manner towards the series’ crew, her mother, and others who were trying to help her. These emotional outbursts seemingly came out of nowhere, especially in situations where she had to give up an old habit.
While it can’t be excused that a 37-year-old woman behaves like a spoiled child, it’s understandable that someone going through such extreme changes will do and say things they never have before.
My 600-lb Life’s Susan Farmer Tries on Jeans for First Time in Decades After Losing 400… https://t.co/8diCTC38Gd pic.twitter.com/wCHC0xTAWt
— Actor Headshots NYC (@ActorHeadshot) April 20, 2016
More importantly, however, it’s much more likely that the reason for Farmer’s lack of appropriate behavior and respect for those around her simply comes from the fact that she had no respect for her own self for a very long time, and some of the reality pills were too hard to swallow early on.
Whatever the reason may be for how she acted, it’s undeniable that she’s now in a much better place, and along with a greatly improved life, it’s widely believed that her behavior is much more acceptable as well, at least in early 2023. Until some sort of media coverage is released to confirm or deny this assumption, series’ fans can only speculate as to whether Susan has improved in this field. Her significant increase in self-respect should really help this situation.