Subtitle: no words from me needed. (ok one: amazing) please to enjoy.
Lynn C, a 36 years old, displaced Yankee. Self described as a mother, a writer, a dreamer, and quite possibly the proud owner of a very small black hole residing somewhere under her desk that tends to eat small kittens, odd socks, every single stapler she has ever owned, car keys, and that book you were reading and almost done with…
I have not owned my own scale in my life.
My parents had a scale, back when I was growing up.
My mother’s morning routine, which involved sitting on the toilet for 20 minutes before she weighed to make sure she didn’t have any excess poundage in her pee (How much weight can a full bladder REALLY add? I mean, seriously?) and stepping on and off the thing several times, adjusting the little knob on the top of the scale, and sometimes moving the scale around in the bathroom, in case gravity was stronger in the northern corner of the room than to the south. She planned how much she didn’t eat based on those numbers and often made me late for school. Or showing up at school with an unwashed face and unbrushed teeth.
Mostly, I avoided the scale. I stepped on it… at the urgings of one or other of my hyper skinny girlfriends. I still remember this, because I was the heaviest of us, as well as being the shortest.
Annie, at 5’6″, who ran track, had no breasts whatsoever, and by the time she graduated high school at 19 years old, still hadn’t started menstruating. Weighed in at 89-93 pounds.
Leigh, at 5’8″ (My father, who stands tall at his impressive 5’7″, used to call her “Tree”) wasn’t particularly athletic, but did live off in the middle of nowhere and did a lot of walking, came in at a respectable 114 – 117 pounds.
Jenny, who was only a smidge taller than me, at 5’4″, was obsessed with her weight. Her mother clocked in somewhere over 400 pounds, and Jenny was terrified of food. She weighed 97 pounds.
I was 5’1″ at the time, had more chestworks than all my friends put together, and generally weighed in between 119 and 123.
I was “the fat one” out of the bunch. Whenever we got together in groups of larger than 2, we’d have these body-comparison discussions that included weighing and measuring. I remember these experiences as being some of the more mortifying ones of my life. Even worse than lining up in PE class to have our weights done as a class, since I could always count on Melissa H to outweigh me by at least 20 pounds, and Patricia L usually had a note to excuse her from weighing in, since our best guesses put her at well over 180. (That she seemed so incredibly large to me at the time makes me wince in retrospect. I was THRILLED to weigh 180 two months ago).
If didn’t matter that I was the ONLY girl in our group who consistently had a boyfriend, or someone asking me out. It didn’t matter that Annie and Leigh had nothing remotely resembling breasts, or that Leigh was so covered in reddish brown freckles as to look like she’d been dipped in cinnamon or that Jenny had horrible acne and because her mother was a terrible housekeeper with 90 cats, always smelled just faintly like cat litter. I was the fat one, and therefore on the bottom of our social pecking order.
Jenny, who lived just up the street from me, used to hound me about exercise. Whenever the scale meetings put me at more than 120, she’d make it her life’s mission to make me walk into town (about two miles there and back) and ask me every morning while waiting for the bus, what I weighed that morning. And what I’d eaten.
When I went off to college, I lived in the dorm, and certainly I didn’t think I needed a scale. I was sure that if I wanted to know how much I weighed, someone in the dorm would have one. I’m sure that someone did, but I never asked. I was just as happy not to know.
When I got my own apartment, I needed so many things – bed, couch, chairs, table, desk – that a scale just seemed frivolous. My apartment was furnished in late 70’s Hideous and that was the most I could afford from the Salvation Army. Spending an extra $20 for a scale? Pffft. It was completely dismissed from consideration, and I admit I wasn’t miserable without it.
I know that my old high school friends would blame my weight gain on the simple fact that because I didn’t know how much I weighed every single day.
When my husband and I decided to start Weight Watchers, both of us had over 75 pounds to lose.
“Do you want to buy a scale?” Thomas asked me.
He blinked at me. “Why not?”
“Because I don’t want to jump on the thing every day. And I know I would.”
I would probably step on that damn thing more than once a day. I’d probably step on it every single time I went to the bathroom. I would get obsessed at the difference between first-thing-in-the-morning, naked weight and after-five-pm-fully-dressed-at-Weight-Watcher’s weight.
Six pound fluctuations in a single week would drive me to distraction. I’d mess with the dial.
I’d try to discover if there was some holy place in the apartment where I weighed three pounds less. (I understand someone recently discovered that weighing in the closet made her scale give her a 40 pound loss. I can’t remember who that was, however.)
I’d play with that little knob that’s supposed to calibrate your scale. How far up could I slide that knob before my husband noticed and would go find a five pound weight to test it against?
I obsess with the numbers as it is. A gain at weigh-in can put a damper on my mood for the rest of the week. I check percentages and trends and averages. I can’t imagine how many charts I would meddle with if I decided to weigh in every day. I’ve been known to use my food scale to decide which shirt to wear to weigh in. I live in dread of summer ending, since I’ve been weighing in wearing shorts, tank tops, and open-topped shoes. I’m going to gain like 5 pounds as soon as I go back to wearing pants, long-sleeved shirts, and boots.
I recognize that this cannot possibly be healthy. That one number shouldn’t be the entirety of my self-worth.
So, while I’m working on that, I won’t tempt myself. I don’t keep Kit Kats in the house, so I’m not tempted to sabotage myself. (There’s nothing wrong with eating a Kit Kat from time to time, but if I want one, I should make myself leave the house to get it, so I can make sure I really, actually want it.) And I don’t keep a scale in the house. So I won’t spend all my time standing on it, and using it to decide what I should eat today.
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