I’ve gained another 6 pounds this year. My head hurts too much right now to articulate how I feel about it. I hate that I can’t keep myself from looking at the scale when they weigh me at the doctor’s office, but at least my doc isn’t a fat-shaming butthead. GODDAMNIT WHY DO SCALES EXIST.
Empathy/solidarity internet fist bump. I think this is a pretty good moment for some story-swappin’.
I get anxious even looking at a scale, even one that I have no intention of climbing on. My mother has one in her bathroom — always has, probably always will — and I can’t take a shower in her house without thinking “I should weigh myself,” which is something I did every day for most of high school, and something that inevitably triggers my eating disordered behavior, then and now.
It’s fucking TOUGH. Like, my housemate brought one to the apartment we rent together, and she had it out in the bathroom for like a day and not only myself but another of my housemates were really, really unhappy with it being there. It feels to me like a constant reminder of the pressure that a number is supposed to define us as women and that we, as fat women, fail every time.
They’re tools of shame in the worst way, because never have I gotten on a scale and been like, “Oh, damn, I’ve suddenly lost 35lbs and had no idea, guess I’d better get to a doctor!” That’s the reason they’re supposed to exist, right? In case you go to the doctor and you’ve had a dramatic weight fluctuation, as if you wouldn’t otherwise notice? But fun fact! I had dramatic weight fluctuations in high school, when I was studiously ignoring that a medication I’d been put on to treat my Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome was essentially forcing me to purge one or twice a day. I would lose 3-5lbs a week (mind you, healthy weight loss is 1-2lbs, tops) and my doctor never batted an eye. She as like, “Oh, you’re losing weight! Great!” Everyone was telling me that I should be so proud of myself, and I looked so good, and wasn’t I happier?
To say I wasn’t happier was a lie. But I didn’t like my body any more than I used to. I was happier because I was finally getting pseudo-positive feedback about my body, instead of overwhelmingly negative. And everyone was telling me that I should be happier, and that I was so much prettier and better this way, so I figured… what’s a little chronic dehydration and fainting spells and heart problems compared to being thinner?
That was seriously my thought process. How fucked up is that?
Let me just emphasize: I got really sick. I started fainting, like, once a week, and getting dizzy/blackouts on a pretty regular basis. I was chronically dehydrated and probably malnourished. I wasn’t gaining any muscle whatsoever. I found myself unable to do things I’d previously been able to, like lift heavy objects (I’ve always been strong) or jog up a couple of flights of stairs. I would break into a sweat, get dizzy, and have to sit down after even a quarter of a mile jog. It was really bad.
And I did not tell a damn soul. I still haven’t told anyone the whole thing, until uh, right now.
No one noticed, either! Except my stepmother and my father, who expressed gentle concern about the rate at which I was losing weight — and my dad wouldn’t have noticed on his own, except that my stepmother was severely anorexic as an adolescent and recognized that something was wrong, even if I was eating as I always had. My endocrinologist asked if I had problems and sent me to a cardiologist when I complained of dizziness and fainting, and nothing. But I was losing weight, so it’s like nothing else mattered.
A scale is intrinsically linked to all of that for me, because the relief I felt getting on a scale and realizing I’d lost another chunk of weight and that not getting told I was disgusting was going to continue is impossible to put into words. I lived in fear of going back to the place where the only time I was noticed for my body was when I was being ridiculed for it. Absolutely nothing else mattered.
Eventually I realized how fucked up this was and told my endocrinologist how the medication was affecting me. She was horrified, immediately took me off of it, and told me that I should have told her at the outset. And I slowly gained the weight back.
That’s okay. Or, I guess it became okay, because it wasn’t for a little bit, but I’d kind of realized that what I was doing was incredibly detrimental and damaging, and that stopping it would result in weight gain. I just stopped getting on a scale. I’d kick it under the cabinets whenever I went into the bathroom. Hell, I still do my best not to even look at a scale when one appears in my life. And all that is why.
Literally no woman I know can interact with a scale without a ridiculous amount of anxiety and guilt. And I’m not entirely sure what to do about that, except to never ever ever buy one myself and to suggest that if you don’t need one to monitor health things for yourself or whatever, don’t use one. They’re the worst.
Thank you so much for sharing, I’m so glad you realized the destructive path you were heading towards and stopped. It really is a massive struggle for so many people. I’ve done such a good job at not giving a fuck that when the number is magically in front of me for the first time in ages, I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH IT.
Oh well. I’m kind of ill right now so I don’t have the energy to even feel anything about it and I’m pretty much over it.