Thursday, January 2, 2014

Why I'm Smashing The Scale This Year: A New Year's Revolution

On Tuesday, I excitedly noticed my name mentioned in the Huffington Post's article about The Militant Baker's #SMASHTHESCALE body love revolution photo series, and of course immediately shared it on my Facebook. A couple of my friends reshared the link, and I had been thrilled to see all of the positive responses to this photo series which I think is so incredibly powerful.

And then I saw this comment from a friend of a friend:
"I hate destruction of things that can easily be donated to someone else. Goes along with the "musicians" who smash guitars....what's the purpose? Use the energy to dig a hole and plant a tree, or rake leaves for an elderly person. Maybe THEN you'd lose a pound or two."
Of course, I couldn't keep my big mouth shut (even though, I know, Haters Be Hatin'), and I just had to repost my response here. Conveniently, it also ties in the The Militant Baker's call for #smashthescale blog posts, tweets, and photos all this week, and you can view the entire blogroll here.

As to my response:
Hi Concerned Person! I'm the woman who came up with the idea for Smash the Scale, and I'm hoping that I can help alleviate some of your concerns. I, and a number of my fellow The Body Love Conference volunteers, also hate seeing waste. That's why we purchased the scales secondhand, and upcycled a number of scales from women providing their own. We did try to recycle them through a community art effort afterwards, but unfortunately that fell apart. The best we could do is dispose of them responsibly, which we did.
As to the second part of your comment, if you take the time to read about #smashthescale, you'll find that this isn't merely a group of overweight women frustrated in their efforts to lose weight. As you can see in the pictures, there are women of all shapes and sizes, from model thin on up. The goal isn't to say that being healthy doesn't matter, but rather to call out the wrongful conflation of a number on a scale with the idea of health. Scales can give us data about our bodies, but that's all it is -- just data. Not self-worth. Not beauty. Not desirability. And in my opinion, our culture's obsession with losing "a pound or two" being the equivalent of self-improvement is a dangerous and damnable idea.  
I have felt fat since I was twelve years out. I was 5'7" and weighed 150 lbs at the time. That's a normal, healthy BMI, and I was a normal, healthy kid. But combine the fact that I had hips and thighs and an ass when my friends didn't with the notion that losing weight is the same as being healthy, and what started as a pre-pubescent with low self-esteem evolved into a seventeen-year-old who routinely made herself vomit in the alleyway behind her house because her parents monitored how long she spent in the bathroom. Oh, and vomited in the bathroom at school. And at the gas station. And at work. And anywhere else I could -- all because I was so afraid of "being fat," of having that number on the scale increase. Of having that number on the scale not decrease. And because of all that self-harm, I lost a whole twenty pounds! You tell me -- was that destruction of my body a worthy way to use my energy? I did lose weight, after all. 
It's taken a lot of hard work, self-love, the support of family and friends, and actively fighting against my body dismorphia to get me to a place where I don't automatically look in the mirror and hate myself. But when I'm having a bad day, those old feelings still creep in. I have moments where I want to binge-eat my way through two burgers, three donuts, and a giant-size portion of chocolate and/or chips because I feel out of control of my life and my body and eating food is a way to forget and find comfort, and then vomit it all up again because HOW COULD I DO SOMETHING SO AWFUL, I'M GOING TO GET FAT. Thankfully, because I've spent years learning to resist that cycle, and because I'm finally learning to love myself, I don't. And nowadays I can even go running, and lift weights, and dance around like a crazy fool with an aerobics video (and I do), without having it all come down to how "fat" I think I am, or whether or not that activity will help me lose weight. Do I want to be healthier than I am right now?? Hell yes -- I want to be stronger, I want to be faster, I want to avoid the heart attacks that spot my family health history like some deadly genetic acne. And am I taking steps to get there? Absolutely. But in the meantime, I need to be able to love myself as I am, and not spend all my waking hours obsessing over whether or not that square lump in my bathroom and society's bullshit beauty trends say I'm worth it. 
And that's why, destructive or not, I smashed my scale. Was it wasteful? In a way, yes - and that's why I don't expect nor think it necessary that every person physically destroy their scale just to engage in this movement. Was it a waste? Not for me. It was terrifying, soul-baring, cathartic, and ultimately empowering to physically destroy something that has been too much a part of my life for way too long -- but a waste? Absolutely not.
If you want to get in on this ish -- and believe me, you do -- there are a number of ways you can join the movement:

  1. Blog about it, and share your link on The Body Love Conference Facebook.
  2. Share your story on The Body Love Conference Facebook or in the comments here, and I'll pass it on to the Militant Baker! We want to read and share both on The Body Love Conference FB and The Militant Baker FB. Let's drown out the annual New Year's Weight Loss Resolution Chorus with a rousing battlecry of our own!
  3. Create your own image like I did with this simple PNG overlay. Instructions on how to do so here. Post it to the Body Love Conference's and/or The Militant Baker's FB wall so your pic can be shared as well!
  4. Tweet and tag @BodyLoveConf. Hashtag the shit outta your posts with #SmashTheScale and #Smash The Scale on Tumblr. Instagram your pics to The Body Love Conference here.
Ultimately, why do I believe we need to smash the scale? Jes put it best:
"For every girl bent over a toilet, worshiping at the altar of thin. For every teen who cries herself to sleep at night because she’s not good enough and doesn’t know why. For every child who didn't know they were fat until someone told them. For every woman who hopes that happiness is on the other side of that pill bottle. For every person who's stopped eating when they're still hungry. For every woman who hopes that happiness is on the other side of that pill bottle this time. Or maybe this time. For every woman that thinks she’ll be worthy of love if her thighs were smaller.  For every woman that holds back tears while she tries on jeans. For every child with a Weight Watchers chart on their bedroom door. For every man who's been told to put his shirt back on. For every teen who starves for a gap. For every skinny girl accused of anorexia and every fat girl that’s called lazy.

For every person who looks down at a number for so long that they forget to look up at the world.
For you. 
Choose your weapon.
Smash the Scale.
And with it, all obligation, expectation and guilt."
Let's make 2014 the year we love ourselves.

Hallelujah, amen.