I want to get real here.
I’ve never seriously struggled with my weight, never had an eating disorder, never got into any crazy fad diets to lose weight.
As a woman, it’s been ingrained in me from a very young age that weight matters.
In elementary school, eight- and nine-year-old kids were made fun of for being “fat.”
In high school, my friends and I would compare our weight. We all had different body types, and we were all different heights, but for some reason, we thought that we should all be around the same weight. I was short, so I naturally weighed less than my taller friends, and for this I was deemed “skinny.”
In high school, I would stand on the scale every time I went to the bathroom, just to make sure my weight hadn’t increased. I would get irritated with myself when I saw that I had gained a pound.
Back then, I wasn’t concerned in the slightest about actually being healthy, I just wanted to weigh the “right” amount.
This mindset is so unhealthy, and it can be pretty damaging when children are primed to think this way. They learn to focus only on their weight, and to compare themselves with those around them. They prioritize a number on a scale over their actual health and wellness. This is the mindset that can lead to eating disorders, and the feeling that you will never be good enough.
A few years ago, I started running. And along with running, I started eating healthier. I started adding more fruits and vegetables to my diet. I stopped worrying about how much I weighed, and started focusing on how I felt, and on getting stronger.
Little by little, I stopped wanting to “look skinny.” Instead, I wanted to feel healthy.
Today, I honestly have no idea how much I weigh, and I don’t really care to know. I’ve stopped stepping on every scale I see, and I’ve stopped comparing my weight to that of my friends.
I’ve started to feel good, inside and out. And to me, that’s much more important than how much I weigh.
Like I said at the beginning, I’ve never had an eating disorder and never struggled with my weight. Mine is a pretty mild example of the damaging effects of society’s obsession with weight.
But I know that others have struggled more deeply because of this obsession society has forced upon us. Every day, people are struggling with body image and self esteem because of the number on the scale.
As a society, we need to do better. We need to stop teaching children that how much you weigh determines your value. Even though society has become obsessed with “health” lately, and there’s been a huge boom of health and wellness products marketed to us, many of them still advertise weight loss, or how to get a “bikini body” for summer. We need to put the focus on overall health and wellness, rather than on looks and weight.
Eat right. Exercise. Drink water. But don’t do these things because you want to drop ten pounds, or because you have a skinny friend that you feel the need to compete with. Do these things because your body needs them to be healthy. Do them because they make you feel better.
Try to focus on being healthy and strong, not on your weight.
You are much more than just a number on a scale.
Be happy. Be healthy.