As you may be aware, I’m a big proponent of positive body image for women and men, but that doesn’t mean that my own body image is 100 percent all day every day. I have a lot of days when my sadness (or happiness) involuntarily relies on the number on my bathroom scale. I stand there, my feet on the metal sensors, staring at the blinking line as it assesses my weight, my teeth clenched and my jaw tense as I wait for the news of how I’ve succeeded or failed since yesterday.
Some of you may know exactly what I’m talking about. I’m not going to lie on this blog and preach that we should all love our bodies all the time and then act like I never face the same struggles that I know other people do. Some days, I eat spinach and tuna for lunch, have a rice cake for a snack, then go home and gorge myself on whatever chocolate substance I have in my apartment, which is immediately followed by guilt or frustration at my lack of self-control. There have been times when I’ve stepped off my scale and cried. Conversely, there have been times when I couldn’t have slapped the smile from my face all day because I was down two pounds. I’m not saying that it’s not healthy to be proud of yourself when you reach your goals, but I don’t think your sole reason for feeling happy should depend on a group of three numbers. That’s something I try to remind myself every day; some days, it’s easy to forget.
Several days ago, I was having one of those Scary Scale days. I had indulged a couple weeks earlier when my mom came to visit, and I hadn’t stopped indulging on leftovers and anything else I wanted. I was already feeling guilty and dreaded stepping on the scale. Somehow, I felt it was going to punish me for not keeping a more active eye on my weight. After losing 13 pounds since last year – the heaviest I had been since my chubbier high school days – there has been a five-pound range I’ve allowed myself (I know, now I sound like a crazy weight Nazi, right?). In my head, I’ve feared that if I exceeded that five pounds, I’d be well on my way (or well on my “weigh,” heh heh) to gaining all my weight back. On this Scary Scale day, I was just two ounces under my “limit.”
Disgusted, I shoved the scale back into its place by the sink and looked at myself in the mirror before brushing my teeth. My mouth was drawn into a frown, my eyebrows were scrunched together and my eyes looked dark. Haggard was the word that came to mind. As I’m sure we all know, it doesn’t matter how many people insist that we “look great” or “don’t need to lose any weight” or are “beautiful just like this.” The internal battle wages on.
Then my cell phone buzzed on the sink. A text from Cory. An emoji. He doesn’t always text me in the mornings, but at first glance, I figured it was the smiling poop emoji just because…well, just because that’s the kind of humor we exchange.
But it wasn’t the poop emoji. It was the emoji of the pink heart with a blue arrow through it.
I looked back at the mirror. My face had immediately changed, and so had my mood, and it had nothing to do with a scale. It had nothing to do with how much my stomach bloats from one day to the next. It had nothing to do with how snug or loose my pants felt. It had nothing to do with eating a lettuce wrap or a slice of chocolate cake for dinner. It had everything to do with what I knew from a simple little picture.
Ridiculous thought it may sound, that wordless emoji text said a lot. It said, “I love your picture in my mind no matter what you think you look like right now.” It said, “I love eating ice cream with you.” It said, “I love taking walks downtown with you.” It said, “I love your jokes.” It said, “I love your endless amount of completely useless movie trivia.” It said, “I love just sitting and watching back-to-back episodes of Cheers with you.” It said, “I love you x-amount of pounds up or down.”
It said, “I love knowing that I’m spending my life with you.”
And my eyes filled with tears. Because that’s exactly what I would say.
Okay, maybe Cory didn’t consciously think all those things when he tapped the heart and blue arrow emoji (and he certainly didn’t know that his text had come at just the right time), but I know that I feel each of those messages and more from him every day. I interpreted the emoji that way because I know those messages true, and I know the number on the scale shouldn’t affect how I feel.
Someone loves me for lots of reasons, and I love that someone for lots of reasons. Heck, someone loves each of us for lots of reasons, and none of those reasons involves three blinking numbers.