I’ve had an unhealthy relationship with my scale since time immemorial. I have feared it, distrusted it, felt subservient to it, and even occasionally thanked it. Overall, I have been in a lopsided power relationship with scales my whole life.
I loathe getting on the scales at medical visits. The medical assistants at my current primary care provider’s practice don’t insist or argue with me about getting weighed, but they do sometimes ask. It’s not their fault– it’s just a standard thing that lots of medical offices do. When I talk with them about it, they’re all understanding and low-key. But it still leaves me feeling weird and bad, like I have revealed some quirk that they are accommodating. I do recognize that for some sorts of visits and health needs, weighing gives them important information (e.g. for a pre-op visit before surgery). So I submit to it, trying to distract myself from the shame I feel at the numbers displayed. Yes, I’ve tried not looking. It doesn’t help.
I’ve always thought that having a scale around my house was not a terrible thing; weighing myself occasionally would allow me to note changes in weight (especially in response to various eating changes I might embark on– not diets exactly, but playing around with some shifts). But I still found that more often than not, seeing those numbers made me angry, upset, ashamed, and demoralized.
I thought I found a potential solution last year: I bought a scale with no numbers anywhere, that WILL NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES tell me how much I weigh. I blogged about my new Shapa scale here. Here’s what I said about it:
You bring your phone (with app installed) with you to where the scale is, and weigh yourself. It takes a few weeks for Shapa to calibrate what your average weight is, and what your weight variance is over time. Once it does that (and it won’t tell you those weights even if you ask nicely!), then when you weigh yourself, it will give you a message and a color.
The color is supposed to tell you if your weight is within one standard deviation of what it has been, or if you’re up from that, or down from that.
Well, the first time it registered me as up in weight, with a different color and the message “try a little harder”, I felt crushed. Soon after I stopped using the Shapa scale. But it was still around my house, and I felt bad about not being strong enough (whatever that means) to keep using it.
Last week I finally packed up the Shapa scale and put it away. I didn’t know when I might use it again, but I knew I wasn’t up for dealing with it.
This week, however, I decided that it’s time to get rid of scales, at least in my house. I don’t need one to track my size and weight– I’m completely aware of which clothes fit and how they fit (or don’t). I’m also very aware these days of how my body feels– in what ways I feel strong or creaky, or flexible, or tired, or achy or jittery. Do I need more than that? I don’t think so.
This is part of a developing plan of mine to attend to the body shame I have felt my whole life. More on this anon. This is the year where I really devote time and energy to bundling up those negative feelings I’ve been toting around and throwing them in the dumpster! That’s the image I really like.
Yes, I know it doesn’t really work that way. But I’m grooving and humming on the image. I love throwing things out– it feels powerful, definitive, and liberating.
An eminently appropriate first step in this process is to throw out the scale. (actually, it was expensive, so I may try to sell it. but still.)
What is your relationship with scales? Has it changed over time? I’d love to hear from you.