If I had a dollar for every time I thought about my weight, losing weight, if I’ve gained weight, what eating that thing will do to my weight…I promise you I could retire at the ripe age of 25.
Whether positively or negatively, I think about my weight and how I look periodically throughout my entire day. When I wake up, when I’m deciding what to eat, when none of my clothes fit just the way I’d like them to. It’s rarely a forced thought; instead, it silently creeps into my subconscious and often pollutes my thoughts like a black cloud. It causes me to have some really terrible self talk, an inner dialogue full of criticism and contempt. And it’s exhausting.
One of the things discussed in the first hours of your life is how much you weigh. As a child, it’s tracked constantly and is a way for doctors and parents to figure out if you’re healthy and growing at the right pace. Horror stories are told of babies over 9 lbs (and probably for good reason. I have yet to experience this for myself, so I won’t pretend like I know anything about this kind of pain).
Right off the bat you’re compared to other little kids.”She’s big for her age.” “He’s the shortest one in his class.” “She’s outgrowing all of her clothes so fast!”
From a young age, weight matters. For some reasons that are true and important, and for other reasons that are simply a measure of comparison and don’t really matter.
Then you turn 16, and in order to get your license you have to write down your physical description…eye color, hair color, and *sigh* your weight (raise your hand if you wrote your actual, honest, not-one-pound-off weight? Ya, me neither). It’s printed on hard plastic, forever haunting you from inside your wallet. Thanks a lot, DMV.
I wonder if the reason I can’t separate my weight from my identity and value as a person has anything to do with how important it’s been all along?
I wonder if something that was once a useful tool for growth and development transformed into a value scale, measuring, comparing, and giving meaning in realms it was never intended to?
It’s almost like we need to be re-trained. We need to be reprogrammed on how to see ourselves and what the actual definition of beauty is. We need to learn all over again what part weight should play in our health, what amount of subconscious space it deserves, and how comparing can be so damaging to our self-esteem.
There is absolutely something to be said for healthy living. For exercise, sleep, fruits, veggies, and eating things that are good for us. It is important to develop routines and habits that are beneficial to our physical and emotional well-being. But to obsess over that pesky 10 pounds we’ve been “trying” to lose for the better part of a decade…I mean, what’s the point?
Your weight isn’t the problem; how you talk to yourself, how you treat your body and what a number on the scale can do to your self-worth is.
I have never spent an extended period of time with a group of women and NOT heard weight mentioned. Not heard about which diet someone was trying, the comparison of how one girl looks next to another, or even a flippant comment about calories and how healthy the food we’re eating is (or isn’t). Weight creeps it’s way into our conversations and relationships. It makes us feel like we don’t measure up, and that we have a long way to before we “look good.”
What if what mattered more than what we weighed is how we experience life with those around us? What if we looked back on old pictures and remembered the conversation and the laughter, rather than the size of our waist or what we wished we looked like?
What if we gave weight less power over us, mentally, emotionally, and physically, and didn’t buy into the lifelong effort of constantly needing to change ourselves?
Whether you’re 120 pounds or 220 pounds, we all are trying to fix or change something about our appearance or our weight. We all have the stack of clothes or pair of jeans that once fit-like-a-glove that we vow to wear again someday. We hold onto our past or fantasize about our future, the “ideal” us.
Aren’t you tired of that sort of thinking? I certainly am.
I have always been, and probably forever will be, slightly more round than I’d like to be. Whether I have a slight muffin top or love handles (you know those nicknames were created by women, desperately attempting to make weight gain sound like cute breakfast foods), I will work on speaking kindly to myself and accepting how I look right now. I’m working on being healthy, and being okay with myself, curves and all. It’s hard to even say that out loud, but it’s freeing.
I’m working on having self-esteem that is not dictated by the scale, fluctuating based upon my caloric intake, and that stems from an entirely different source of self-worth that has nothing to do with my appearance.
I think that’s how it should be.