(This is a cross-post from my personal blog: www.only-mama.com)
Weight is a curious thing. I'll talk real numbers, because numbers are irrelevant when it comes to weight. Huh? Yes, really.
Ok, I am 5'7"and I have a medium size frame and large boobs. 130 pounds is an awesome weight for me. I have a friend who is the same height but has a tiny delicate frame, and 130 pounds on her leaves her with a large ass. Yet another friend is the same height but has a large frame and a heck of a lot more muscle mass, and 130 makes her look like a skeleton.
In other words, numbers are personal. There is no universal number for everyone. My numbers have changed as my body has changed; when I was rollerblading every day I weighed more and had less fat. When I quit rollerblading my weight went down, which gave me a false sense of security as I was actually getting fatter.
Also, there's a point where weight loss makes you look worse. My stomach sticks out. My stomach has always stuck out. I got down to 115 pounds, which was lower than my high school weight, and my stomach still stuck out. It actually was more noticeable because I had no ass or hip fat to fill in around my stomach. My boobs deflated and did the most unattractive wrinkling prune impression when I lied on my back. Naked, I looked 70 years old. Skinny is not always best, trust me, and no amount of crunches will tighten your skin.
We all have a target weight. Here's what it looks like for me:
128 or lower - You get to eat everything you see!
129 - this number only appears a few times a year on my scale, and it exists only to make me feel bad about myself the rest of the time. It taunts me.
130-135 - This is my target weight. This is where I feel sexy and good about myself.
135-137 - This is where I always am. I was 135 when I got pregnant both times, and after regaining the pounds I lost on the Divorce Diet the weight I returned to. I think it's where my body is most comfortable, but when I weigh 137 I feel spongy and squishy. The difference between 135.8 and 136 pounds on my scale is roughly 7.3 Self Esteem points. Ounces and Self Esteem points have a very complicated conversion formula.
138 - Now I look at my thighs and squeeze them, noting their sponginess. I refer to myself as "buxom" or "statuesque" and try to decide that I am ok with being a curvy girl, meaning a plus size girl. Note, my transition to mental plus size resulted from only 3 pounds over my normal weight range. I imagine other people don't even see the difference when they look at me.
140 - I haven't seen this weight in so long I pray I never see it again. This is the "you are acending too high" number.
OK, before you go commenting on my weight obsession, here's some more numbers from my life:
162 - my highest pre-pregnancy weight. I am thin because I actively work hard at it. It is not my normal state. My mother likes to believe I am thin because I have a great metabolism, and I should finish whatever leftovers there are when we eat together. I try very hard to remind her of the years I was fat and how hard I worked to lose the 30 pounds.
185 - the weight I delivered both my children at (I gained 50 pounds with each child, and lost it easily. I have no shame in that at all.)
145 - the weight I was when I married my ex-husband, and I felt incredibly beautiful that day, though I went back up to 150 about a week later.
The reason I am posting numbers here is that we all hide them, deny them (my drivers license still says 120) and let them shape how we see ourself. If I get a "good" result from my scale, I look in the mirror and admire how long and lanky I am. Add just one pound, and I see only the lumps and bulges and I know I am not the only one.
Some people resolve this by never weighing themselves, only determining their weight status by how well their clothes fit. I choose not to do that, because it has been historically a lot easier for me to manage my weight when I notice small fluctuations. When I hit 27 years old, I put on 30 pounds in just two months, and it took me years to get it off again.
Now, you are thinking here is when I say it doesn't matter what I weigh. I say that my kids don't love me any less at 140 pounds or 180 pounds. They say "I love your squishy belly Mama, it makes you good to hug." This is true, but that's not my point.
Here's the relevant part. My kids watch me. They see me subconsciously pinch my bulges. They hear me talk about it with my friends. They look over my shoulder when I weigh myself, just to get chased out of the bathroom. I am teaching them that weight matters.
Oh, don't get me wrong. We talk an awful lot about health and what makes a person good or bad, or attractive or not. We talk about how weight is only relevant in terms of health. I say all the right things.
I read tons of literature about weight and role modeling healthy body issues to your daughters, but I seem to have thrown it all out the window because I have sons.
My oldest is 4'3" and 50 pounds. He's skinny and muscular and looks exactly how he should look. He's a strong, healthy boy and is willowy like my brother and I were as children. And he pinches his stomach skin and talks about being fat. And the only reason he would ever have that thought or have known that stomachs are things to pinch is because of me.
Every time I squeeze the top of my thighs, or refuse to tell them my weight when I get off the scale, I am teaching them that weight matters. I am teaching them that skinnier is better than fatter, and this will shape not only how they view themselves, but how they view women.
And I don't even believe it. I know that I am at a comfortable weight. I know that I am at the skinny end of the spectrum. I do not find fat people repulsive, disgusting or amusing. There are many large women I find beautiful and sexy. In terms of sexuality, I consider myself "hetero-flexible" meaning that I am predominantly heterosexual, but that I can be flexible about it for the right woman. I don't date women, but I can certainly admit that I find them attractive and historically the women I have been attracted to have been larger than I am. I am more attracted to women with a few extra pounds. But I can't see myself in the same light that I see other people.
I don't even believe the internal message I am broadcasting, yet I am still broadcasting it, and I need to stop. I need to be aware that my own insecurities are worming their way into the minds of my children, and undoing that damage will be a lot harder than losing a few pounds.
More from health