Your pants are lying to you so you’ll like yourself better
I’m going to do something in this column that most women won’t even do with a gun pointed at them. I’m going to tell you my REAL weight. Not the weight on my driver’s license, which is 10 pounds less. I’m going to tell you the actual weight that the nurse at the doctor’s office wrote down on my chart after making a “tisk tisk” sound and wagging her finger at me as she told me I should think about losing a few pounds. She was wearing SpongeBob SquarePants Scrubs, so I chose to not take her seriously. I also chose not to break her finger off and make her eat it. Although I would have enjoyed that. A lot.
But enough stalling. Here it goes: I weigh 145 pounds.
There. I said it. I said it knowing it will bring all sorts of reactions and judgments – many of them negative. Because, unfortunately, society uses numbers like these to determine people’s value, and we often use these numbers to determine our own self-worth. This is complete and utter bullshit and needs to stop.
I really don’t care what anyone thinks about that number, because I’m pretty happy with it. I say “pretty” happy because I still struggle with the numbers game too – which is probably why I still lie on my driver’s license. I’m not sure if it is how we are raised, or the media’s depiction of beauty, or if it is some sexist plot to make all women feel bad about themselves. But whatever the reason, I believe most people’s idea of the “ideal” woman is one that weighs between 100 and 125 pounds. I don’t fit into that ideal. And I never will.
But 145 does represent the ideal “ME” – a healthier version of myself than existed three years ago, when I weighed 225 pounds. Back then, I got winded walking up stairs. I had asthma, acid reflux and chest pains. I wasn’t doing things I wanted to do because of my weight.
Two weeks ago I ran a half marathon. I no longer have acid reflux, chest pains, and my asthma is under control. I have more energy and stamina and confidence to do anything I want to – and a few things I used to be scared to do. I even have a muscle. I’ve named it Axel, because it sounds badass. Axel and I am in better shape than ever. And there’s a joy in that that people can’t see just looking at that number.
If I weighed 125 pounds, would there be more joy? Would I be even happier and healthier? No. I would be thinner (and probably hungrier, and therefore, bitchier). But thinner does not equate health, happiness or beauty. I see plenty of thin women out there that look anything BUT healthy and happy. Some of them look gaunt and miserable — like they need a cheeseburger and a hug. Just don’t hug them too tight, you may break them.
My doctor and my trainer have both told me that the number on the scale doesn’t matter as much as other physical measurements, such as percent of body fat, cholesterol levels and blood pressure. So why do we still obsess about the number on the scale? And why aren’t we, as a society, wanting to brag about how healthy we are instead of how thin we are?
It’s not just the scale either. It’s also clothing sizes. When I worked in retail eons ago, women were constantly squeezing themselves into smaller sizes because it made them feel better to say they were a size 8 instead of a size 10 – even if they looked like a stuffed sausage in the size 8. But who cares what size you are wearing as long as you feel good? It can’t feel good when you pass out from lack of circulation to your brain. Yet women still view the number on the tag as a measurement of their worth. If they have to get a size bigger, they go into a deep depression that can only be cured with ice cream and vodka. If they can get a size smaller – well it’s still ice cream and vodka to celebrate, just without the depression.
I was at a clothing store the other day – one I frequent. I tried on pants in my (now) usual size and it way too big, so the associate brought me a size smaller – which fit. I knew I hadn’t changed sizes so I thought it was a fluke, but when I tried on a skirt the same thing happened.
There was a time I would have paid $1,000 for pants that were a size smaller than I normally wore – and that fit. But not this time. I left empty-handed, and a little bewildered. After some research, I found out that this particular clothing chain had just changed their “vanity sizing” – making everything bigger, so customers would think they were smaller. The reasoning, backed up in studies, was that women are more likely to buy clothes in smaller sizes because it makes them “feel” better about themselves.
So not only are we lying to ourselves by trying to squeeze into a smaller size – the clothing industry is enabling this behavior by making the lie real. I have no idea what women who are truly a size 0 are wearing now. I guess stores will have to start making negative sizes to compensate, which will only make women want to be a -2 or -4 instead of a 0. Because changing the sizes doesn’t change this stupid notion we all have that smaller sizes are “better” and therefore make you “better.”
I shared my weight today because for many years I’ve been afraid to, and I know that almost every women in America shares that fear. It’s time to stop being afraid of the number on the scale and be more concerned with how you feel. Beauty doesn’t have a number. If you can look in the mirror and see a person looking back at you that is both healthy and happy, that’s what truly matters. If you don’t – then work on making yourself healthier and happier, because you are worth it. Don’t let any number — or any person — tell you otherwise.