Enter the scales.
The first time I stepped on a scale was during the dark, life-sucking hole known as middle school. A number popped up and I knew it was calculating something about who I was. It wasn’t merely a number; it was an indicator of my identity. It was fascinating how the number would change according to what I had or had not eaten.
I recall finding out what I should weigh for my height through health class. Ehhh … that word, “average.” I hated it and all of its synonyms: usual, ordinary, standard, typical, normal, regular. Who decided what was average anyway?
The scale became my master, and the fear of being average, or ordinary, controlled my life. I was miserable and I was starving to be better in more ways than one.
Maybe you can relate.
How many mornings have we hit the snooze button on the alarm clock, not wanting to start another day because we feel the taunts and the weight of all our failures from the day before?
Then our feet hit the floor and we hop on the instrument of torture, otherwise known as the scale. We weigh ourselves, hoping to obtain that magical number of perfection that exists in our heads, to look good, and to prove our worth. This magic number is different for every woman, it is established through our upbringings, media, culture, and in a real sense, is meaningless.
The scale became my master, and the fear of being average, or ordinary, controlled my life.
Unfortunately the scale that lives in many bathrooms is not the only scale in life. Others exist to tell us how we can become better, work harder, be prettier, and ultimately have more value. They can be bossy!
We weigh in on social media. Few things add more weight to our lives than Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Is my life as exciting as hers? Am I enough?
We weigh in at home. Do I cook healthy enough? Is my home as clean as hers? Am I reading enough with my children? Is my sex life as exciting as theirs? Am I enough?
We weigh in at work. Does my job performance meet everyone’s expectations? Do my coworkers like me? Am I enough?
Weighing in becomes a roller coaster. Not in the fun way, but in the “I just ate the entire funnel cake and lemon shakeup before I got on the Tilt-A-Whirl, and things are about to get really messy!”
It’s a roller coaster because that number we want to achieve and the definition of perfection continually changes. Our expectations of ourselves change like the wind. The world’s expectations of women change every time Vogue puts out a new magazine. Expectations can be fickle.
Who we are is not how much we “weigh” in all arenas. We are more than a number. Our worth cannot be measured standing on scales in the bathroom or found within the pages of a current magazine.
The world’s expectations of women change every time Vogue puts out a new magazine. Expectations can be fickle.
Lose the scales!
Start by losing the scales, first the bathroom ones, yes those. Our real responsibility is to just take care of our bodies. Doing our best to eat well and exercise is what matters—not a number on a read out.
Next, lose the scales of our culture: magazines, movies, and social media. The depth of our relationships should measure our lives. Not how exciting our lives appear to be, the number of times we pick up a children’s book, or the cleanliness of our home.
Finally, lose the scales of others’ expectations. There will always be someone who feels the need to tell you how they think you should live. Their approval may feel good for a moment, but that’s all. So why strive for something so fleeting?
Why not, instead, give our time and energy to fulfilling our purpose here on earth? We all have one. Let’s let go of the little kingdoms we are trying to build for ourselves, break down the walls, and look outward … seeking to love our neighbor as ourself … building each other up, encouraging one another, and spurring one another on in love and good deeds. Maybe then we will discover a newfound treasure: the joy of community, genuine love, and purpose.
When I change my perspective, from looking down and lift my eyes up and out, then I can release my death grip on my charts, scales, schedule, and self-built, personal shrine! Step off the scales and you will feel the weight fall right off!