Thursday, September 1, 2011

Toss the Scale

I hate the scale.

Some people live by the scale number. It defines them each day as they step gingerly on the box. Not me. I feel like a sack of potatoes in the produce department at the grocery store when I’m faced with the scale. Flung onto it, I feel helpless while the nurse, like the shopper, seeks my poundage. I don’t want my poundage. What use is it to me? I feel good. I don’t need a number to define me.

If I had a say, I’d choose a non-relationship with the scale, something akin to the relationship I have with mold. Not interested.

However, the nurse insists each year that I acquaint myself with the contraption that I have, through anthropomorphosis, turned into something with wicked intent.

I was weighed yesterday. This is what set these wheels of opinions about the scale in motion. The scale is not my friend. A friend would whisper a ridiculously low number into my ear because she knows that’s what I’d want to hear. Not the scale. The scale gives a cold number. A fact. A measurement that is somehow a reflection of me in some way. A friend would turn the mirror just so or lie to me. Not the scale. Doesn’t the scale care? I’m tempted to say it is this way because the scale is a just a machine with no feelings, but I’m beginning to think it would look more like Chuckie if it actually came to life.

My bones are dense. My muscles, thick. But I feel great, so what do I care what the scale says? Getting off the scale, I watch as the nurse scribbles my number down. I want to pontificate about "skinny fat people" because it’s true. A lot of people look really good on paper, but they’re muscle to fat ratio stinks. They look great in those True Religion jeans, but are at a higher risk for heart disease than someone with more muscle mass or junk, if you know what I'm sayin'.

I’m tempted to care. I’m tempted to let that number take me prisoner, but I watch it float away without letting it grip me with its limited definition.

What I’m about to preach is controversial, downright medically irresponsible, but it must be said.

Scale numbers don’t matter.

There, I said it and I feel so much better.

Yeah, I get the whole obesity scare and how scale numbers seem to be climbing into dangerous heights. I also get that people use the scale to monitor their weight so that they can keep it in a “healthy range.” I get all that. I live it. I put people on scales regularly and watch their faces glow or fall, depending on that number. I watch people record that number on their dutiful paper and then let that number determine whether or not the rest of their day will be bright or filled with panic and gray.

I witness shoulders slump if the number is off by a pound or two. Even if someone has a “good week,” Chuckie, the scale, might tell them otherwise. They might come into the room feeling great and get off the scale feeling shamed and falling short of who they need to be. The scale has great power; too much power. We wage war with this number or hide it for fear others will judge us. Perhaps we are the ones too harshly judging ourselves by it.

Insidious, that number seeps into our minds and taunts us. It tries to define us in a narrow way. We’ve gone so far as to insert that number into a new measurement called the BMI, which is just as meaningless as the scale number.

None of these measurements capture our essence or preciousness of being. All they do is diminish us to a medical record or a weight chart, which the science of the day has used to take so many people captive. “See this number? It says that you’re mildly obese.”

“But I’m an artist and mother of two.”

“A mildly obese artist and mother of two.”

Today our weight obsession has leaked into new space and we’re all at risk of much more than dying of obesity-related diseases. Our children are at risk of much more than living shorter lives than their parents.

We’re at risk of losing the concept of seeing the body for what it is. A temple. A vehicle. An outer form that carries our inner beings. Our bodies are not the all of us. If we nurture our inner beings, our bodies will follow suit, not the other way around.

I would like to propose a toast. A toast to saying goodbye to limited ways of looking at ourselves. Instead of lifting wine glasses, let us all lift on high our scales. Instead of clinking them together, let us collectively toss them into an abyss.