My Scale and Me

My Scale and Me

My scale and I are about the same vintage. The scale is the color of a 1950s pink bathroom. Its small, clouded plastic window is cracked, it perpetually registers 4 pounds light, and at some point I tried to mask its pinkness with blue-and-white contact paper. I’ve considered buying a sleek, new digital scale that will weigh me to the very ounce. But my memory of every major life event is accompanied by a 3-digit number, indelibly etched in my mind, from this particular scale. More accurate readings, reported at the doctor’s office or a Weight Watchers meeting, are a mythical blip on my radar–those numbers have no bearing on my reality: I measure my existence by the specific number shown on my old, pink scale. Do you remember your life by the number on your scale? Is that good or bad?

My old scale has been both enemy and friend for a lifetime. When it gives me good news, I smile, maybe even gloat. When it gives me bad news, I get angry and want to throw in the towel on good eating. Often I avoid getting on it, because I know a “bad” number will affect me for the rest of the day, especially when I was expecting a “good” number.

Always tall for my age, I don’t remember weighing less than 100 pounds. Kids are curious; asking another kid how much she weighs was part of the usual playground banter. When my weight exceeded 100 pounds, I didn’t like the surprised responses I received. I wasn’t fat, but I was a head taller than my much-less-than-1oo-pound school chums. I quickly learned to be embarrassed by my weight. Why is it that the number itself matters so much?

While home from college one summer, I made a bet with my father based on my scale. If I got that scale to say 135, he’d send me back to college with my own car. I got it in writing and wrote up a contract which Dad dutifully, and hopefully, signed. I dreamed of a vanity license plate showing my 3 initials and the number 135. For a few weeks, I diligently dieted. But I quickly became bored and went back to my old habits. By the end of summer, little progress had been made. I still dream about that license plate! And I still don’t weigh 135! Shall I keep trying or is that number mythical, too? Is it possible our bodies are meant to be a certain weight, even if we don’t agree with the number?

Does your scale play a central role in your life? Tell me about your scale or your feelings and memories about the number on it. Does a bad reading make you go off the deep end? Does a good reading put a bounce in your step?

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