“What is that?” I ask Michael, my partner, the love of my life, the man I share my stories, hopes and dreams with. I look down on the floor of his living room to see a perfectly flat, square, thin contraption sitting there. Waiting. Calling me. I had a feeling it was a scale, but I just had to ask, because normally scales find their homes in bathrooms on the floor next to the sinks and toilets. This modern looking, shiny black square was by the front door, looking kind of like it was headed to the rubbish bins on trash day (she said with her hands in prayer position).
“We’ll need to put your info into the app for it,” he says excitedly, like I was actually going to stand on this contraption and allow it to record not only my weight, but my body fat, bone mass, protein and a list of other physical attributes I didn’t know I was supposed to be recording. He moves like a lynx to his phone to open up the app. Apparently, I am supposed to stand on this and allow it to do whatever it does and it takes all of this information and submits it through Bluetooth to the app that Michael has downloaded on his phone.
The Health Profile
It is at this point that he, with a twinkle in his eye, offers to set up my account on his app. Then, as if he has just discovered one of life’s great mysteries, he opens up the app to reveal his entire health profile including, of course, his weight, without the slightest hesitancy. I love this about most men I know. Weight is not a thing. 198, he says. 198 on a man who is a little over six feet that is mostly made up of stunning runners’ legs I only hope to obtain in my next life if we get to choose.
This man knows me better than anyone. He knows the insides of me, my fears, my angst, my dreams, my strengths and my weaknesses. He knows my schedule, how I think (almost), so when he says this so matter-of-factly, like this was even going to be a remote possibility, I laugh aloud. “That is so funny, Michael. No, I am not putting my information on your app. Do you even know me?” Insert laugh, chuckle, snicker here. I detect the tiniest tone of wound in his voice, “I was just showing you how it worked, you could probably put the app on your phone and do it,” he says sweetly.
I Hate the Scale
Insert another small laugh here. That will not be happening. I hate the scale. I hate the number. I hate what the whole thing invokes in me and almost every woman I know. It is a downer. If the number is higher than I thought, I am depressed. If it is lower than I thought, it validates that what I am doing is, in fact, working and I feel like I will never be able to have a glass of wine or a piece of my friend’s delicious cheesecake again. Or it says, That’s all? I have been following food plan number five thousand and I didn’t lose ten pounds in a week? Completely ludicrous. Insane. Self-defeating and utterly opposite of how I live my life. And yet the scale gets to me.
I don’t know how to change my feelings about the scale. It has years of layers, some dating back to my grandmother’s issues with weight. I try to self-talk my way through the brain fuck that is the topic of weight. Yes, I am alive, I am healthy. I am fit. I am strong. All of that. But that pesky scale gets the better of me so I choose NO. I will not get on a scale that records a plethora of information. I will not put myself in the vulnerable position of wirelessly communicating my health to my partner’s phone which then likely transmits the information to Big Tech so they can have their way with my health data in whatever way they choose.
What if the lower number and the thinner mirror is actually the way I am? What if the scale that says the higher number or the mirror that adds breadth to my hips (because it never adds to my upper half, a part of my body that, even before breast reconstruction, was satisfying to me) is the one that is wrong? All of this sounds crazy, but it is part of my gene pool and who I am. No matter how much I try to meditate the negative thoughts away, they stay firmly planted.
Progress, Not Perfection
Argh. I think of the AA phrase, Progress Not Perfection. Yes, I totally understand that this world of advertising and catalogues coming at us does not help the cause of delighting in our imperfect bodies. Even the thinnest, healthiest women I know (you know, the ones that can throw on a pair of leggings and tennis shoes, throw their hair up in a messy blonde ponytail seemingly without a glance in the mirror?) have their own weight and body image demons. This I know because I have open conversations with women every day of my life and have for the last almost thirty years in the beauty business.
I am not sure if the scale will ever be my friend. My doctor always says, “Alayne, you look great, the scale is just a number.” I know what she is really saying is “Alayne, give yourself a fucking break.”
I am trying. Really. Every day. But in my opinion if the scale were truly as “smart” as it proclaimed, you would step up onto the two outlined feet and it would say, “This number is only a number so today I give you a free pass. Go for a walk, smell the earth, look up, smile at a stranger and breathe deeply. Be grateful that today, again, like yesterday, you got to wake up and have the luxury of stepping on to this scale today. There is no number today, so enjoy your day and stop all this unnecessary fretting. You are alive. This is your day. Today. Enjoy it.”