Is Your Weight a Deep, Dark Secret?

Why we keep it under wraps -- and the surprising benefit to spilling the beans

I've had mixed feelings about the business of weighing yourself for a long time. On the one hand, I tend to build the bathroom scale up as way scarier than it really is -- so when I finally get the courage and weigh myself, I end up breathing a sigh of relief that oh right, I haven't gained 50 pounds in a week because that's impossible.  

On the other hand, I try to avoid weighing myself too often. The reason: I can obsess over any tiny shift and let that number define how I feel about my body for the rest of the day. 

This is why I had a major ah-ha moment when I read Emily McCombs' take on why you should "Tell Everyone How Much You Weigh All The Time" on xojane.com. Emily stopped obsessing about her weight (as much) when she finally swapped numbers with her friends. "See to me, everyone else's body was 'normal' and mine was somehow 'not normal," she writes. "But when we broke it down to numbers, I realized [...] WE ALL HAD NORMAL BODIES." 

Ah. Yes. Maybe the reason the scale holds such power is that we keep the information it provides secret. I have no problem telling the world ballpark figures, like when I gained twenty-ish pounds, I got up to 167 and now I've lost ten-ish pounds. But actually let someone see how the scale, on any given day might say 157.6 or 158.1? I don't even want to see that. 

And there's no question that I think my friends' bodies are somehow more normal than mine. It's as if there's no way anyone else in the world can ever weigh 158.4 (or whatever I weigh on any given day) because that super secret number is reserved only for someone with a body as flawed as mine. (The fact that the exact number changes -- so the next day, I think only I can possibly weigh 157.3 and now that is officially the weirdest weight ever -- does not factor in to my logic here.)

Even with Emily's helpful epiphany, I was pretty skeptical of the new site she linked to: The My Body Gallery, where women post pictures of themselves so you can search on your own specific measurements and see other women who are the exact same height/weight/shape as you. As the site explains: "A recent study found that 95 percent of non-eating disordered women overestimate the size of their hips by 16 percent and their waists by 25 percent." 

At first, this turned me off. Maybe it was making it all about numbers, when usually I advise women to step away from the scale. Maybe it's the fact that most of the women crop out their faces, so you're scrolling through all these photos of bodies. It seemed objectifying, even though these women choose to put their pictures up that way.

Then, I did a Gallery Search on my own numbers — 5'5" tall and 160 pounds (because the site thinks in kinder, gentler ten pound ranges.)

And, wow. 5'5" tall, 160-pound women are hot. In that strong and curvy way that I've always admired -- except I didn't even realize I was admiring myself. So now I'm all for number sharing. We have a thoroughly skewed notion of what those numbers should be, but reality check: The number that you think is so high and awful actually matches up to a really great body.

Don't believe me? Go check it out for yourself.

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