In honor of NEDAwareness Week, I am not weighing in with a number. Instead I am weighing in with my thoughts on the scale: it’s power, the thin ideal and why you shouldn’t let a number determine a worth.
You know the rules of the scale: first thing in the morning, after your first, ahem, bowel movement, no clothes, and tada! The lowest number should appear. But wait, why do we think we need to follow a certain pattern to weigh ourselves? And why does the scale at the doctor’s office always result in a higher number?
Simple. Our weight fluxuates daily. Sometimes two to four pounds, sometimes up to eight or ten. You know how I had food poisoning last week? I lost six pounds in six hours. Six measly hours. Of course it all came back after I guzzled enough gatorade, rehydrating my body. The old me would have jumped for joy, riding the quick weight loss happy train until I weighed in again, only to discover I had “gained the weight back,” and I would have spiraled downward into a depressed funk until the scale revealed that magic number again.
You would think I could be more logical. I’m a fairly intelligent person, I promise. But for some reason this small piece of equipment with batteries for a brain held control over me for many years. And I’m not alone. Americans, in particular, have a strange obsession with the scale. A simple google search of “fluxuate weight” results in 19,500,000 results. The majority of the first few pages were from diet and weight-loss chat boards, where women and men were freaking out because they’re weight changed from day to day, or even mere hours apart.
So why is a number so important to us? It represents happiness, after all, thin is in, right? Advertising execs would sure like you to think so. My least favorite quote is one Oprah promotes, “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” As Oprah is pretty much the most influential person in American society, it is no wonder she parrots the same sentiment the rest of the media throws in our faces.
Some researchers believe that advertisers purposely normalize unrealistically thin bodies, in order to create an unattainable desire that can drive product consumption.(1998,Hamburg, P.) The media markets desire. And by reproducing ideals that are absurdly out of line with what real bodies really do look like…the media perpetuates a market for frustration and disappointment.
What you see is not what you get with the media. Not even the models are safe.
Apparently Faith is too big now?!
And when a model, weighing 120, is airbrushed to freakishly tiny proportions and then gets fired for being too fat,
what are we, the normal people, supposed to think about our weight? No wonder we obsess over an insignificant number that pops up after one to five seconds.
What we desperately need is more of this.
Because real women don’t live in an airbrushed world. We have jobs, children, money issues, car issues, bad hair days, stress, etc. And what the media presents to us isn’t normal. It isn’t even close.
So the scale, which gets more prayer than a parish on Sunday, is taking our sanity. Sure it can be a good gauge for weight loss and weight management when used correctly, but the way your clothes fit can do the same thing.
Yes, I’ll admit, I weigh in once a week. But I have mentioned that I am thinking of taking a break from the scale, and focusing more on how my clothes fit instead. As a former slave to the scale, I know how difficult it can be to step away and see yourself as more than a number. It can so easily consume every thought of every day.
Only you can change the way you relate to yourself. And only you can determine your self worth. Why let the media, with all of its unrealistic representations of the female role in our society, tell you how you should think, feel and act?
A few years ago I was weighing myself, on average, eight times a day. Now I am down to once a week. As of today I am giving up the scale for one month.
I challenge you to step away from the scale for one week/month/year. You are MORE than just a number.
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