Today I stepped on the scale and thought to myself, "Woah! Do I really weigh that much?!" I hardly ever weigh myself because I almost always know that when I step on the scale, I will be shocked at that stupid number that makes me feel depressed about my body. So, why does it make me feel bad and why do I care so much about a number that no one knows except for me? This question is crucial in my life right now because I have been eating healthier than I ever have in my life, exercising regularly, and feeling really good. So when I stepped on the scale and weighed more than I normally do, I was almost disappointed in myself........ WHY?! Growing up, I was taught to think that weighing less was better for some reason. Somewhere in that process of thinking that weighing less was better, I confused what being healthy really meant. I began to associate health with becoming thinner. Thinner is what I was aiming for in becoming healthier and so I wanted the number on the scale to go down in result of this.
When I was younger and began to struggle with thoughts of being thin and wanting to weigh less, I made it a point to not step on the scale very often. There was too much peer pressure to look a certain way, and I knew that I couldn't handle the emotional pressure of thinking about my body weight all the time. This doesn't mean that I didn't think about my appearance and my health, but I decided that other things in life needed my attention. So, there I began my quest of not weighing myself very often and trying to feel healthy. It actually worked better than I thought it would. In that stage of life when so many girls are talking about being thinner and losing weight, I tried to zone out and remember that I am a healthy, active individual. I knew I was never someone who would wear a size 2 and didn't really try to be that person.
So even in my quest as a girl in Junior High to not focus on my weight so much, why does that number on the scale still continue to effect my emotional well being? As a society (where I grew up), there is immense pressure for girls to be thin and be a certain weight. But want to know the real truth?? No one knows how much you weigh and no one really cares. No one ever actually has to know how much you weigh. It's basically a number derived from some scientists who decided on a numbering system based on gravitational pull. Makes it sound less important right?! Well to a lot of people, weighing themselves constantly and keeping within a certain weight range is everything...
In my life I have had multiple friends with eating disorders. One friend in particular has struggled with self-image issues for a very long time. Let me give you a little insight into her life…
Multiple times a day, she weighs herself in hopes that there will be a smaller number on the scale. Because her weight is so important to her, she endures binging almost daily (eating excessive amounts of food) because she is constantly thinking of food and how hungry she is, purging after she eats all of that food because she feels super guilty for eating that much, excessively exercising in hopes that it will also bring down her weight, starving herself when she can because she feels like depriving herself of certain meals or certain foods will help, not going out in public when she feels like she is not looking thin enough, taking sick days at work when she is not really sick (she just doesn’t feel like she looks good enough), and lastly, she will not even see her boyfriend or talk to him when she feels bad enough about her body image. My heart breaks every time I think about her because I know that she is battling with making sure that the number on the scale is tolerable in her eyes. In her quest to weigh a certain weight, she is actually hurting her body severely and depriving it of the health that she needs. This is a very serious issue and I cannot pretend to know the deep hurt that she feels every day, but I do know that I am very sad for her constantly. Pressure to look and be a certain weight are a real thing. So how can we begin to change the focus in our society to being healthy instead of caring so much about weight?
I know that we can start by being less judgmental, helping individuals with their insecurities, truly loving people instead of accepting them based on looks, and lastly, we can ultimately love ourselves for who we are. So, next time you step on the scale and see that random number, remember - if you are being good to your body, your body is very happy.
Happy is being healthy and that's what does and always should matter.