Scales of Justice, II

Last week I was having lunch with a friend. We were having a nice meal, chatting about our lives, our kids, our favorite television shows. Then, the inevitable came up (it always does, you know) — food and weight. But this time it was different, she wasn’t talking about her weight, she was telling me a sad story about a friend of hers whom she’d just visited.

This friend, let’s call her K, is a large woman, and has been trying to lose weight for a long time. K had been on many diets, gained and lost, gained and lost. You know the drill. This time, during this visit, though, my friend knew something good was happening. K was cheerful, bouncing around, talking happily about her life — and, most interesting, she had her shirt tucked in. When asked why she seemed so cheerful (and comfortable with herself), K said it was because she had recently lost 8 pounds.

Ahh, THAT explained the shirt being tucked in. We all have our “tells” — things we do when we are feeling good about ourselves. I, personally, wear sleeveless shirts when I feel confident about my body. Why I think my arms may be thinner, who knows? But it’s my “tell.” And this woman was feeling good.

My friend and K were having a wonderful time together. They were laughing, telling jokes, talking about how good life was, and how they were both doing so well. About an hour later, her husband came home. He had been food shopping, and started unpacking. When he was finished putting the food away, he went into the bathroom. He brought out the scale and carried it into the kitchen, where the women were sitting.

“Why are you doing that?” K asked, a small shudder in her voice. “Because it’s broken, it needs new batteries.” Suddenly everything changed. As soon as the batteries were in place, K grabbed the scale and ran into the bathroom. A few second later she came out — her whole demeanor changed. She no longer was looking forward, she was looking at the ground. She no longer had a bounce in her step, and, most significantly, she had pulled her shirt out of her pants — it was no longer tucked in.

“I didn’t lose any weight,” she said sadly, as though she had committed a crime.

What happened? What happened in those few short seconds that made such a dramatic change in this woman’s whole sense of self? In that short period of time, those few short seconds, a simple number on the scale had totally destroyed K’s self confidence. A number on a scale had been given the power to destroy this woman’s self confidence! She still weighed the same with her shirt tucked in and her head held high. But a new number, a larger number, suddenly made her clothes feel tight — by adding shame to her mind.

Let’s hope for a time when scales don’t have that kind of power — when we have enough confidence in our bodies and our food choices to decide for ourselves how we feel, and not let some number on a machine make that decision for us.



Become At Peace with Food: Stop Dieting and Lose Weight

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