Warning: You Might Want to Throw Away Your Bathroom Scales
I threw away my bathroom scales today. At first I thought of relegating them to the basement so I could bring them out for special occasions — like weighing luggage or hefty gold nuggets - but then thought better of it. Those occasions are rare (or non-existent) and, aside from an odd science experiment or two, I couldn't think of any other purpose they could serve.
You see, they will no longer be used to measure the weight of humans. Despite popular belief, humans don’t need to weigh themselves and keep constant tabs on their total mass - which I assume is the goal since gravity isn’t changing regularly. Over the years, as a cultural, we’ve become so obsessed with weighing less, with being “thin”, or “fit" that instead of scales measuring weight, they are now being used to measure self-worth, or to tell us how “good” or “bad” we are. We look at the number and make choices…choices about what we’ll eat today, choices about how hard we’ll exercise, choices about what we’ll wear, and choices about how we'll feel. We use the scales to decide how desirable we are, and how valuable we must be. We’ve given this piece of scientific equipment so much of our power, and now we’re paying the price.
Little girls, who should be out turning cartwheels and giggling with their friends are instead worrying about whether they are fat, or if they will become fat. It’s now normal for 9 year old girls to be on diets. We’ve lost sight of the fact that fat is just stored fuel. We’ve demonized it, and created a multi-billion dollar industry around eliminating it.
I know, I’ve lived it. I went on my first diet in 4th grade and have completely lost count of how many diets I’ve been on since. But then one day, rather recently, I woke up. I looked at my daughter and I wanted something different for her.
I want her to know that she is intrinsically valuable, that her self worth and happiness come from the inside, not from the shape of her form on the outside. And that’s not just true of her, it’s true of everyone. I want people to know that being thin, or beautiful, or whatever vision of themselves they’re chasing, who is not who they are in this moment, will not make them a better person, or bring lasting happiness.
Peace, joy, and contentment come when a person becomes familiar with the place in their soul where their true self resides. The self that is innately well, the self that is full of love, the self that is at peace, the self that is connected to everyone else. And when we touch that space we can delight in our experience, regardless of external circumstance.
We can inhale the fresh, lightly sweet scent of a honeycomb, or tingle as the first drops of rain glide along our skin. We can linger in the sensation of our lips on another and rest in the feeling of holding someone’s hand until we no longer know where one body ends and the other begins. We can take in the full glory and wonder of a body that is able to create another human being. We can laugh as the grass tickles our toes, or cry as we’re moved by a sun painted landscape.
I want my daughter to grow up trusting her body, not the popular commentary which promises wealth, health, and well-being… if you look exactly so. If we are to believe the popular commentary then all people with less than 17% body fat are happy and free of worry and those with more than 27% body fat are lazy and miserable. I hope she will see the fallacy in that conclusion.
I hope she will value diversity, I hope she will cherish each person's uniqueness, and see the perfection and wisdom in the design.
I hope she will run because she loves to feel the wind in her hair and the stretch of her legs as they madly churn below her. I hope she will swim because she imagines herself as a glorious dolphin, cutting through the waves, not because she ate too many carbs the night before and now has to “burn them off”.
I hope she will sit down to strawberry shortcake, with berries from the garden and fresh homemade biscuits and whipped cream and be thankful that she is so privileged. I hope the juicy sweetness envelops her and while her taste buds dance I hope she laughs for the joy of being alive to have the experience.
So different from staring at a plate of food and trying to calculate it’s nutritional value.
In the quest to achieve the “perfect" form, we have forgotten our inherent perfection. We are designed to know what we need, we are designed to be healthy, we are designed to move, and to feel, and to experience pleasure. We’ve spent so much time closing our eyes and ears to our own wisdom; from being made to sit still when our bodies ached to be outside, to being forced to eat when we weren’t hungry, or given foods we didn’t like because that was what was on the agenda. We were made to nap, even when we felt awake and now that we’d like to nap, we can’t because there’s too much to do. We often don’t even allow ourselves time to eat in peace and instead multitask, fueling ourselves while engaged in other activities -- barely noticing the nourishment passing between our lips.
I think there is great fear that if we allow ourselves to just be, if we accept ourselves just as we are in this moment, if we allow ourselves pleasure, then everything will fall to bits. Nothing will get done and we’ll turn into disgusting heaps that never leave the house. But I’ve seen so much evidence to the contrary. When a person is free from fear, and at home in themselves, there is an ease and grace; a quiet power.
I hope you will join me in taking back that power — because I promise you that your bathroom scales will not wield it wisely.