Monday, December 11, 2006


Things I will never have in my home: The Clapper, Wall-to-Wall carpeting*, white formica, a bidet....

...and a scale.

Growing up, my house had a scale that resided in my father's bathroom. But I never paid much attention to it. The numbers meant nothing to me. Even when my father surveyed me one day in feeted pajamas and remarked to my mother (in an adoring tone, of course), "She's growing a little pot" (as in belly).

My first understanding of the scale arrived via my friend Rachel. She was one of those jellyfish friends, to borrow a term from Bridget Jones. The ones who zing you from time to time with remarks that sound innocuous but leave a sting. Things like, "Why are your arms so hairy?". You know those friends. After realizing that we both weighed a whopping 88 pounds, we decided that we needed to "work out" and ran around the house in a fit of excerise. It was the 80s, mind you, so Jane Fonda was used, I am sure. When we finally allowed ourselves a healthy snack (which was probably about 20 minutes into this routine) it was carrots. With heaps of ranch dressing. We had alot to learn.

Even when I cared, which was a brief stint in college, I still never really knew what I weighed. And I liked it that way. Numbers are just too addictive. The ability to manipulate a number, to take one on as an identity, to succeed or fail based on a number...this is all dangerous territory as far as I am concerned.

Even when I was pregnant, despite being forced to hear the number associated with my weight on a regular basis, I did not internalize it at all. I was harboring another human being. All bets were off. The growing number was a sign that things were progressing correctly. I had an excuse.

Recently, I went to the doctor for a baseline physical and got on the scale, only to be greeted by a number that I have never seen before. The steel tab kept moving -- and landed on three digits that were totally unexpected. And I am not surprised. My eating habits have fallen apart in the face of fatigue and chicken nuggets. I haven't exercised a lick in almost two years. I no longer consume anything that contains Nutra Sweet. And just generally, I have not been able to let go of the bliss that comes from thoughtless eating, a bliss cultivated during pregnancy which should have been abandoned 17 months ago.

By the same token, I do believe that people need to accept their bodies for what they are in adulthood, and abandon the sizes they inhabited 15 years ago. I would rather be on the higher end of the scale and not live a life of salads and "on the sides". However, I do believe that working out keeps you young, and that it is very easy to fall apart in the face of other demands like toddlerhood, demanding jobs and general lethargy.

However, when it comes to the scale, I believe it is a needless torture device. Regardless of how little I worry about THAT NUMBER, I would give in to curiosity on the days when I was feeling low. And because eating disorders run rampant, and because I am not entirely unconvinced that my lineage does not include a genetic predisposition to anorexia/body dysmorphia if not merely extreme vanity, I never want my daughter to fall victim to numbers. I don't want her to believe that it matters at all, and even owning a scale is an endorsement of its importance.

* Sorry D, husband of E. I have heard you love the wall to wall carpeting. Just say NO.


At 2:24 PM PST, Anonymous Sophie said...

I was reading your post and when you described the part where the scale landed at a level which you then specified as three digists ... I wonder, hmm, are you maybe really small grown? Or KAte Moss' sister? Because if not and you expected a two digit number on the scale you sure would nourish an eating disorder. Unless of course you were talking kilograms. As far as I know NYC weighs in pound, don't you.

Well, I s'pose to work out really is the answer no matter how you turn it. Have fun, I'll try.

At 3:22 PM PST, Blogger Amy said...

Ahh, Sophie - I was definitely unclear here. Was just using descriptive language - have always been well above 100 pounds (at least since I was 11). Nicole Richie I am NOT. :)

But thanks for pointing out the confusing language. Would never want to send the opposite of intended message!

At 3:11 PM PST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL Oh, I should have just shuup. I like your blog.


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