“You can get on the scale or you can tell me what your weight is and I can write it down,” the lovely medical assistant chirped as I got ready for my umpteenth doctor’s appointment in the past three years. Ahhh. The scale. The fucking scale. I loved her immediately for the ‘choice,’ but we all know that we women love to torture ourselves with the occasional dictator of our self worth for the day- the scale. I am not really serious, but kind of. The scale has been part of my love hate journey for most of my life and I have learned in the last three years to give myself a major scale-cation. So much so that I have removed it from my bathroom. I barely get on it when I have the opportunity to which is daily since there is one at every turn at the gym I go to, tempting my fate.
What is it about the scale? Why is it that I feel better than I have ever felt? I easily fit into a size eight pant and am now sporting a 36D upper half thank you very much. (cancer has to have some benefit). But it’s like the scale is the ultimate proof that I feel as good as I do. I knew that if I got on that scale yesterday it was not going to give me the number that would have made me feel good, but the temptation that I outwitted its power with my desired number was too much to ignore. So I took the bait and took off as much of my clothing as seemed reasonable (we all know that the Lululemon yoga pants I was wearing had to have weighed at least 5 pounds, right?) It would have been too bizarre to take them off for a breast exam- drats why wasn’t this my annual pap smear appointment? See the craziness that goes on and I have done the work. I am a bright woman who most often accepts myself for who I am. I get body image and self sabotage, but the scale continues to torment even the most grounded of women. So there I stood in my doctor’s appointment with the choice- to step on or to not. I mean I am still really swollen as my plastic surgeon reminded me of at my other Dr. appointment last week (aka Dr. Hottie, also known as the amazing Dr. Michaud for those out there who need a stellar breast reconstruction referral). As a matter of fact, he reminded me that I will be swollen for a full three months. And that I won’t be totally healed for a full year. No shit. My deep intellect absolutely knows this and I feel so great that I actually keep forgetting that I AM STILL HEALING. The scale is bullshit. I know this. So the choice to get on should have made a self-aware chick like me who likes herself run for the hills or jump on anyway and say FUCK THE NUMBER.
I got on and held my breath and as usual the scale didn’t let me down. It is my most loyal enemy never giving me the number I think it should. The number that would reflect how I feel inside, the number I see when I see my reflection back in the mirror. That number, the number that it should be is never the number that it is and for all of my hard work at the gym and in the kitchen, it still continues to be unforgiving. I don’t know why we think this silly number should define our day. Isn’t it all so crazy? I am not alone. Almost every woman I know has a love mostly hate relationship with the scale and their weight. It is never the weight we want. I have learned or rather taught myself to accept my body with love and admiration.
This has been a learned and honed in skill because I was raised by women who were always dieting. Weight Watchers was their go to diet and back then it was lots of broth, lots of baked chicken and salads. I was raised by women who felt that exercise was a chore and the enemy. The notion that exercise could actually be a joy and something to look forward to was a foreign one and I know that I have overcome this. I have overcome my relationship with food and all of its negative energy that my grandmother and my mother taught me inadvertently because of their language around it. Eating, starving themselves with diet type food and simultaneously having a freezer full of homemade ice cream parfaits lined up like soldiers. Mixed messages? Check.
The conversations women have with themselves as it relates to the scale are those weird hidden conversations we casually mention jokingly to each other in our occasional self-defacing commentary. They are deeply ingrained in our beings because of so many darts coming at us telling us the shoulds and coulds of how we are supposed to be, look, think, feel. One minute there is an ad on television for a diabetes pharmaceutical and the next minute is an ad for chocolate cake, usually a woman looking like she is having sex as she devours the gooey mass. This ad follows with another one about feeling depressed and of course a pharma solution to that. There are so many body, weight and diet messages coming at us that it is one big pile of confusion and the scale is our loyal companion. It is not helpful that the archaic BMI chart telling us how obese we are based on weight and height hangs glaringly over the scale at every turn. As I have found myself a regular participant in weekly and monthly doctor’s appointments these tools are taunting and not helpful. These charts never consider that muscle weighs more. This chart doesn’t take into consideration the silicone implants that now reside in my upper body. I mean isn’t it bad enough that I had to acclimate myself to this new normal of over the top frequency of doctor’s appointments? I have had to get used to looking at this new body staring back at me and find myself getting fitted for 36D mega support bras at Ruth’s in Cranston. Even though everyone tells you you won’t have to ever wear a bra again, the jiggle factor I now have with these new implants has created a psychological mindfuck. The first time I went to work out it felt like my breast was going to move into my underarm or land in my neck somewhere. As I write all of this, our beloved country seems to be unraveling with hurricanes and terrorist attacks and indictments. This of course puts all of this silly dialogue with the scale and the world of body image into perspective. The idea that I am even speaking about this as a unique topic is almost embarrassing.
As I got off the scale waiting for her to take my blood pressure, (kind of funny they take your blood pressure after the scale) I took a look at the monster I just let send my spirit down the rabbit hole and commented on its antiquity. The contraption looked like it has been there since the office inception or was pulled out of some kind old Doctor’s office who had retired back in the fifties. “Wow that scale is a vintage,” I commented to the medical assistant who had kindly given me the choice I chose to ignore. “Yes, I can’t stand that scale, it is always about five pounds heavier,” she said.
Now she tells me. Sigh.