Watching True Beauty today I was unsurprised to see the contestants freak out when they were told they weighed ten pounds more than they actually did. I was, however, a little surprised and unsettled the other day: I was sitting in my friend’s room eating fantastically yummy taco dip and chatting, when some of their neighbors came in to drag a different girl out to party. My friends had a scale in the hall which quickly inspired some of the visiting girls to weigh themselves and express their joy at the discovery that they weighed less than before. “This is better than my birthday!” one girl exclaimed.
Let me just be clear before I begin, I have nothing against people on diets, or people who are actively trying to lose weight for WHATEVER reason. I commend your willpower and your commitment to a goal.
That being said, I have this thing with weight. I just don’t get it.
I understand excitement over achieving some fitness goal, making your body function and look the way you want it to… but excitement over the offhanded discovery that you weigh a pound less than you previously thought? I just don’t see what the big deal is; I mean, you don’t feel or look any differently physically, you just have a new number to mentally attach to yourself.
I would just keep my mouth shut, after all why deny people happiness? I would stay quiet, if it weren’t for the fact that this weight-obsession has a flip side. I think it’s safe to say that almost anyone who has ever stepped onto a scale and been happily surprised, has also stepped onto a scale and been unhappily surprised. Again, they look and feel just as they did before stepping on the scale – but somehow, that number has the power to ruin their day.
Honestly, there is little reason for knowing your weight. Being thin has little to no connection to being healthy and even BMIs can be incredibly off... so why do we care? Why do so many of us put that little (or not so little) number before the way we FEEL in our bodies, when determining our satisfaction. Why do we take pride in losing that five pounds, instead of pride in working out for a whole month straight, or eating well, or learning a new dance routine, or any of the fantastic things our bodies can do?
I want to change society, but as always that change begins with you and me. If any of this has resonated with you, I want us to try something, something very simple…
Just stop. Resolve for a month, or two months, or a year not to weigh yourself. Put your scale away in the closet and just don’t think about it. Instead, think about how you feel in your body – the things you love about it, and the things you would like to change. Take positive steps to change the things you dislike; become more athletic, more coordinated, whatever it takes to reach a point where you can embrace your body.
I’ve been scale-free (except for my physical) for almost a year now; I may have gained a few pounds in college, but so what? All I know is I’ve never loved my body more than I do now.
You may not be able to divorce yourself from all culturally imposed beauty ideals entierly, I don’t expect you or anyone to. What I do expect is for you to have an easier time loving your body oonce you remove the numbers that dissapoint or excite so arbitrarily. I expect you to find joy in the things your body can do, and come to terms with the things it is not… but love it, and yourself, anyways.