I weigh 242 pounds more or less. I stopped checking whenever hospitals required my presence because the number they’d repeat (happily or not) would send my mind into a spin. Too large? I couldn’t eat for a week. Too small? Sweet, I succeed at life! Same as before? How lazy am I, how many burgers have I consumed and why don’t I start back at the gym on Monday.
No other number has plagued me so. I am 5′5 and I’ve never been bothered by it. Sure I’m slightly shorter than my sister and taller than some of my closest friends but who cares? My shoe size is 9 and that’s never phased me; some of the best shoes in life are a size 9 and if they aren’t, then clearly another pair were destined for me. I wear a size 18/20, sometimes a 22/24, sometimes an XXL or 2X and that’s never ruffled my rolls. But that number on the scale? Forget it, I’m toast.
Even though it’s just a number and we can all say it’s just a number we all know it’s quite the opposite. It’s tender, legal and binding in the world of social acceptance. How we repeat it and discuss it becomes fodder for daytime television and comic routines. How we treat it becomes fodder for a whole industry of money-making schemes in little plastic bottles or the cardboard backs of dehydrated food product.
But it’s 3 digits. Sometimes 2 if you’re particularly short, sick or starving and sometimes 4 if you’re being featured on The Learning Channel (TLC). But really it’s meaningless. I’m 242. Maybe I’m more today, maybe I’m less. It’s been whispered in my ear like a dirty secret, shouted across the room in gym class, scoffed at in theater troupes and hidden behind mounds of paperwork. Don’t make me feel bad, don’t make me cringe, I know I’m fat and wretched and yes I’m starting that diet tomorrow. Please, I know I don’t look that fat. People who have that number on the scale usually grow fat arms out of the sides of their heads and extra fat mouths to consume extra fatty foods to add to the number on the scale. The scale must be off, my shoes are heavy, I’m menstrual.
Anything to avoid having to face that number.
But it’s there. It’s staring us in the eyes. It’s screaming at the top of its little lungs and it’s time we drown it out with our own voice.
242. 242. 242. 242. 242. 242.
I’m not even averting my eyes.
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