Thursday, March 18, 2010

Numbers as Weapons

(Crocus in a front bed.)

I think most of us would agree that judging yourself by the amount of money you make is not just silly but rather unenlightened. If you are feeding yourself and your family, if you are sheltering your loved ones, if you are clothed, if you can generally pay your bills and have a wee bit of fun, we would say, I think, that this is just a number.

I think most of us would agree that judging yourself by your age is also in the category of "unenlightened." Again, it's just a number.

There are other numbers that we would say are a waste of our time: your height, the repetitions of sun salutations that you are capable of, the grade you got in elementary school on that math test, how much someone you love weighs, how much you weigh...oh, wait.

That one right there.

How much you weigh.

Yeah, it totally matters. I mean, how can you possibly think you have any self worth unless you weigh the "right amount?" Really.

Forget that you are beautiful by virtue of simply being a human being, a miracle of existence. Forget that. That's just crap compared to what the scale said to you last night or this morning or perhaps after you used the bathroom the last time.

Forget all the stuff that your body does for you everyday. Forget how your arms wrap tightly around those whom you love. Forget that your eyes see the sun rise and set and that they take in the daily beauty that is the coming spring. Forget that your legs walk you toward home. That your spine stands you upright when you hear your name called.

Forget all of that, because it's crap, I tell you, just crap compared to the number on the scale.

Okay. Enough. You get it, right? You get why you need to throw away that contraption. That Device of Self Torture that you willingly put in your house, step onto at the gym, step onto when told to at the doctor. (Yes, there are people who refuse the doctor this one number.)

What are you trying to tell yourself with this number? How healthy you are? Because guess what? There's a thing called Skinny Fat. It's a phrase about people who are thin but can't do a set of stairs. They are unhealthy on the inside.

And the inside is what you should care about.

Can you run up and down the steps and not get winded to the point that you have to sit down?

Are you physically active every single day?

Do you enjoy being inside this body?

There's the real question: Do you enjoy being inside this body?

No number is going to give you that. That comes from the inside.

Why have we intelligent women granted authority to this evil hunk of metal, not only over our bodies but over our minds? Only a good night's sleep, early-morning sex, or a nice vanilla latte should be allowed to wield so much influence over how we start our day.

--Leslie Goldman, Locker Room Diaries: The Naked Truth about Women, Body Image, and Re-imagining the "Perfect" Body

(NOTE: Again, if you can't see the comments, simply click on the title of this post. You will then have access. I apologize for any inconvenience; I am working to remedy this (WEIRD and most ANNOYING) issue.)


Rachel @ Suburban Yogini said...

You know it's funny, I'm pretty OK with my body, despite all it's creaks and groans, and I've never really thought a lot about my weight but I do still obsess about my age.... I have got to get over that!

Joy Tanksley said...

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Thank you for this ray of sunshine.

Em said...

My only objection to refusing the doc the number is if the doctor needs to give a medication that is based on weight. Then it becomes a very important number.

Otherwise, though, I do love this post. Thank you.

Analiese Marie said...

I agree wholeheartedly that we should not use the number on the scale as a weapon against ourselves or others. However, I don't think it's inherently a terrible thing to measure one's weight. I'm in the process of becoming physically healthier, not because I don't love myself or my body but because I DO, and I wish to honor my body by treating it well. This encompasses so much more than fitting into a smaller dress size. It's learning to appreciate my body for what it can do, learning to eat for nourishment (as opposed to using food as an emotional crutch), etc. Weight loss is a byproduct of this process, not the end goal. I don't deem myself more or less valuable according to the number on the scale. However, it's one way that I quantify what I'm doing, which in my experience, helps me to stay on track with the overarching goal. If someone doesn't find such a measurement useful, he or she is free not to own one. If someone finds it damaging, he or she probably should not own one. However, not everyone views the scale as a Device of Self Torture or cares less about what's inside just because they own/use one. It comes down to knowing oneself, doesn't it?

Christine Claire Reed said...

Em -- Obviously. ;)

Analiese -- This post is certainly not for you! :) You are a rare woman indeed if you are not reading that number and hoping for a lower one -- or if you don't have a number goal and are just "checking in." Rare, indeed...sadly. :(

A little side note: the average woman fluctuates up to FIVE pounds in one day. So depending on when we "weigh in," our feelings about it can be drastically different mostly depending on water and pee.

Carolynn said...

I couldn't agree more. Although, I do measure myself. At the risk of drawing fire, studies have been done that indicate a waist measure over 30" for women puts us at higher risk for heart disease. So, I do keep an eye on that.

That said, however, if I have a 28" waist (not yet) and sit around imitating a sloth, eating bon bons all day long, chances are good I'm still at pretty good risk of developing heart disease.

Okay...never mind.

The whole number thing, brings to mind my favourite movie scene in Erin Brokovich when she fires off her 'list of numbers' to her new neighbour who's hitting her up for a date.


claire said...

Christine, I realize I must leave my scale on the edge of the desert. Maybe it will be the last thing there...
I love this. Thank you.

Christine Claire Reed said...

Carolynn -- Funny, talking to yourself comment. ((giggling))

On top of what you wrote here, there's also the whole thing about a bit of belly fat being healthy as we age -- it's indicative of your body's proper use of estrogen and a sign that you're protecting yourself against estrogen-related cancers.

So we end up where we started...How do you FEEL!? :)

Christine Claire Reed said...

Claire! YAY! Good for you!!! :)

StorytellERdoc said...

Hey C
Simply put, one of your best posts ever. Beautifully written with a clear, concise, heartfelt message for any woman in any of our lives. Well done...I will save this one for my daughters.

SeaSpray said...

Hi Christine - StorytelERdoc referred me here. Great post!

I agree about the numbers with all of what you said.

The only thing is I am coming full circle with the scale again.

I was always tall and pearshaped , pleasingly plump (in the right places type) but unfortunately ..I didn't realize my shape was a good one because I always compared myself to the petite size 7s, My cousin being one of them. Also growing up ..I always heard (in the family) "Patty has such a pretty face..if only she'd lose a little weight." or when I was 17, hanging out with a bunch of people ..mixed company guy out of the blue says ..'Oh'd be perfect ..if only'd lose 10 lbs. And when I was 13 pounds over weight at 17 (the closest to my goal 140 weight at 5'8" frame I ever was)...*I* thought I was fat. I kid you not. I didn't think I was obese..but I thought I was fat. And I defined who I was by the numbers. It's not that I never felt pretty or sexy ..but inside ..inside ..I always felt less than and I never for one day in my life from the time I was 11 felt at peace with my weight/shape.

And sometimes I held back ..especially as I got older and I lived life like a dress rehearsal saying ..when I lose weight ..I'll do this, go there, etc.

But as I held back I gained as I gained I held back and so on.

I used diet pills, crash diets and became the queen of Yo-yoing and felt good about myself when thin and loathing myself when gaining.

And I bowed down to the morning God - my scale ..weighing myself au natural, after tinkling ..exactly 3 times taking the 2 out of 3 weights.

I 100% agree with you about numbers. I even avoided pictures and now I regret that.

But one night I went to an O.A. meeting and they said we should get rid of our scales because if we just do what is good for our bodies ..we will naturally go down to our weight we were designed to be. Sounded great to me.

But in retrospect... I think it was a mistake for me because that is when I gained the most weight in my entire life. True marriage was simultaneously hell on earth and I don't, drink, drugs, or smoke ..but use food for everything. I have often wondered where I went that I did not stop myself. really does one gain a significant amount of weight and not be aware and/or stop themselves?

Anyway ..NOW ..I am back to using a scale ..because I think that seeing the numbers is keeping me from going into denial. It can still mess with my mind if I get a higher number than I expect ..but I am approaching it as one day at a time. Slow and steady wins the race. The fast fixes messed with my metabolism and didn't teach me anything.

The difference in using the scale now that it is a tool to keep me in line..from going back up. I very much care about the numbers right now. I am trying to get into what I call the next weight zone and have been close a few times the last couple of years and then go back up. But I have kept 40 off which is also a good thing.

i am sorry to be so long here ..but your post ..your beautifully written post really spoke to me.

I wish when I was a teenager and early 20s ..I was more aware of what I did have..what my body could do ..instead of judging myself by the numbers.

I feel for the young girls today who are bombarded by media everywhere with unreasonably thin images. If I had a daughter ..I would affirm her beauty ..inside and out,I would not compare her to others because she is unique and special being who *she* is, instill faith and wisdom be a leader and not follow the crowd ..but think about what *is* good for *her* and what does *she* really like. And I would show her your post.

SeaSpray said...

P.s. I hope it is alright, but I am blog rolling you. :)

Ketzirah (Carly) said...

Ready for an awesome chant I learned from the Kohenot? I don't know who wrote it.

How awesome is the body
How awesome is this place
How awesome is the journey, through time and space

When we finally meet in person, I'll sing it for you!

You know I differ with you about the numbers. I think they are helpful, if we can learn to have a healthy relationship with them.


Beautiful post - oh my goodness what a post! Lucy from Diamonds in the Sky sent me Claire's post re this post and then I had to come here. I've been fighting 10 lbs for several years - it refusing to come off or me perhaps holding on to it believing I couldn't take it off. Oh brother - our heads - we let them do a number on us when it's within our power to turn that ahead around. My scale is not yet at the edge of the desert as Claire suggests but her post and yours are such healthy food for my mind and body! Thank you!