Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Karen Lewis Confirms Weight-Loss Surgery: 'I Have No Shame Around It'

The Chicago Teachers Union boss flew to Mexico in March for an $8,500 operation

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CTU Boss: "I Have No Shame Around" Weight-Loss Surgery

Chicago Teachers Union leader Karen Lewis says she has lost 50 pounds since undergoing weight-loss surgery in March.

In an interview with the Sun-Times, Lewis confirmed she had bariatric surgery in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, because her health insurance would not cover it here in the States. The operation cost $8,500.

"I have no shame around it. And I don’t think anybody should have shame about it," she said, adding: "I feel so much better. It has been a highly positive experience for me I would highly recommend it.”

The 60-year-old union boss, whose sharp wit and gleeful lampooning of Mayor Rahm Emanuel have made her a local media darling, said she's struggled with her weight for years but decided to go through with the surgery because she was physically unable to do the things she wanted to do. Lewis, afflicted by arthritis in her knees, could not play tennis, her "favorite thing to do."

A frequent recipient of hate mail disparaging her appearance, Lewis said: "I tell you, I always had good lookin’ boyfriends, and men with money. My weight never got in my way," according to the Sun-Times. 

Lewis' Sun-Times sitdown did not address gossip that she had surgery in preparation for a possible mayoral run in 2015. But she denied she's considering a showdown with Emanuel, saying the CTU will work with fellow unions this summer with the goal of registering as many as 100,000 rookie voters and raising $2 million to support an aspiring mayor who'll "understand the platform of what working people in this city really need.”

Said Lewis, “I will support anyone who will be on those platforms and who can beat him."

Everyone's buzzing about Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, but how about Bozo the Clown? That's what she said.

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