You are not a number: How scales can become large-scale problems

How would you react if you saw the number on your scale go up five pounds or down five pounds? It has become common for people to react to minor weight fluctuations with extreme measures (i.e. “I gain five pounds, and I go on a fast.” or “I lose five pounds, and I eat way past when my body says it’s full.”).

What many people forget is that it’s normal for weight to fluctuate naturally due to water intake and other factors, and reacting to weight fluctuations in such extreme ways can actually damage one’s body.

A main reason why  people have major reactions to weight fluctuation is because the media constantly models how we are supposed to react to our weight.

According to the media, stepping onto the scale is a major life event that causes extreme anxiety. We see this idea in everything from commercials, to comics, to stock photos.

Even the popular TV show Supernatural gave a nod to melodramatic scenes with the scale in its episode, “The Purge,” in which a woman has a meltdown in reaction to her weight going up by a tenth of a pound.

In response to the world’s unjustified focus on scales, the fabulous Jes Baker has raised her voice—and her sledgehammer. Starting a “Smash the Scale” revolution, Jes and some other lovely ladies got together and literally smashed scales with the weapons of their choice.

We have become so enraptured with the idea of measuring things—from our grades to our weights—that we have forgotten to measure what really matters: Who are we as people? In addition to making a fierce physical statement, Jes and her friends empowered themselves by shifting their attention from their scales to their spirits.

If you remember one thing from this article, please remember this: Your weight is a number. A number is a word. And a word is just a sound.

Next time you have a judgment about your weight on the scale, try saying the number out loud until it has no more meaning to you. It sounds cheesy, but I dare you to do it. It might take you a minute, or it might take you an hour—but say the number until it completely loses its connotation and becomes just a silly little sound your mouth makes.

Why do we place so much value on a sound? How much do you want to let that sound control your life?

You are so much more than a number. You are a gift. And you are powerful.

Here’s to smashing that scale!

Elizabeth Frankel is a Minnesotan who loves psychology, theatre, and anything related to horses. She seeks to understand why the world is the way it is through critical thinking, and when that fails, she just employs sarcasm.

One thought on “You are not a number: How scales can become large-scale problems

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  1. Absolutely wonderful.

    You had such powerful statements in this. I love how you deconstructed the number on the scale and made it nothing more than a sound. The second to last sentence in which you stated “You are so much more than a number. You are a gift. And you are powerful.” was so empowering I read it twice. Awesome.

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