The Dangers of Scale Abstinence

By: Ginnie Revenaugh

I always used to scorn scales and people who used them. What, you have to weigh yourself to feel confident in your body? I am part of the body image movement, I don’t need scales. I was caught up in the wonderful movement of the twenty-first century that is all about loving yourself and your body regardless of contemporary standards of beauty. Ok ok, this is good, right? No scales = no insecurity? Wrong. 

Underneath my veneer of self-righteous confidence and bristly defensiveness about my body was a deeply-rooted longing to look different and lose weight. The more those desires tried to surface, the more I choked them down with rantings to anyone who would listen about the evils of society and the fact that pudgy-ness was the socially desirable look in medieval times. I committed myself to scale-abstinence, and whenever I needed to write my weight down, I relied on my last-known weight from Freshman year of high school (HA). 

But, this fierce rejection of all things regarding my weight did nothing to alter my true perspective about my body. I hated it — and the more I ignored the feelings about wanting to change it, the more I lost control over it. But — I was a firm believer in the body image movement! Wouldn’t it be hypocritical to admit to those deeply rooted, shameful insecurities? I think this body image movement of our time can actually tend to discourage change. 

We begin to force ourselves to love our bodies — even though some of us struggle to change how we truly feel, deep down.

The reality of my situation was that I wasn’t happy with my body, and my firm clinging to my conception of the body image movement was preventing me from seeing that I could still love myself, and my body, while working to change it. 

In the end, what freed me was growing confidence in myself. It took true, genuine confidence to let go of the falsities I clung to. It took confidence to look in the mirror and say, I love my body now but it’s ok to want to lose those love handles. It took a lot of confidence to walk into the gym and convince myself that everyone wasn’t staring at me, thinking there were obvious reasons I was there. 

Let me be clear here. The human body in and of itself is beautiful. Your curves, your stretch marks, your bony knees, your tummy rolls, your scrawny arms, your jiggly thighs: all of that is absolutely marvelous and wonderful and beautiful! I am so thankful for my strong thighs that lug me up mountain tops and for muscular arms that allow me to hug tight and close. Our bodies are incredible, and they are worthy of love. Take confidence in these sweet mechanisms we have at our disposal. 

But — and I have realized this slowly but surely — it is absolutely possible to both love your body and work to change it.

So, game plan, people. Let’s love ourselves, because we rock. A lot. Let’s love our bodies, because they rock. A lot. Let’s be grateful for all things they can do for us. And let’s listen to ourselves, allowing our insecurities to surface rather than volcano-ing them: shoving them deeper and deeper into Netherland until one day they explode out with terrifying gusto. 

So, step on that scale if you want to. If you’re not happy with that number, don’t wallop and weep and eat more cookie dough. Get up, get moving, eat well, because you absolutely can love your body while trying to improve it.