It’s just a number. Like kitchen scales, it only gives total weight and nothing about the ingredients in the bowl.
I always made friends easily. I never felt judged for wearing glasses, what I wore, or the activities I engaged in. Then I lived in an area where that all changed. I was bullied day after day about how my clothes weren’t right or I should be playing video games instead. I was called four-eyes relentlessly. I was different and it was the first time in my life where it was pointed out without mercy every day I went to school. Gone were the days where I everyone I met became a friend. Gone were the days of not feeling self-conscious. Sometime after that is when I started feeling like I was fat, but I wasn’t. I can’t explain where it came from, it just was.
In college, one of my cousins called me Skinny Bones Debi. It is the imperative of every Filipino grandmother to make sure skinny people are fed as soon as they walk in the door. No matter whose house I visited, the grandmother of the house immediately tried to feed me. Because skinny people are hungry. But I still didn’t feel skinny. Looking back at pictures from college, I look anorexic. I see myself in some of the pictures and can’t believe I ever thought I was fat even though I knew I was underweight. I didn’t undereat (except for a bout of depression my first year) or binge and purge. I realize now it was a combination of all the health problems slowly working their way through my body that I’m dealing with today (like how shorelines recede before a tsunami) along with all the walking I did. I walked just about everywhere I could and it didn’t matter how far it was. I walked from my apartment near the University to Waikiki on a whim to sit on the beach.
Dealing with the hypothyroidism was when I decided I had to reframe everything that got skewed in sixth grade. I stopped caring about how I looked and focused on how I felt. Weight loss got tossed in the trunk so I could keep my eye on getting healthy again. It had to. I’m a bit OCD when it comes to numbers (for someone who hates math). I have to know how many pages are in a book when I start reading it so I know where the middle is. I keep track of how many pages until I hit page 100 and how many more pages until I’m halfway through. Then how many pages until 100 pages are left all the way to end. You give someone who tends to be or is OCD about numbers and it becomes more about the number than the intended result. I could tell you how much my weight has yo-yo’d. I could tell you how much I’ve lost since I gained all the weight thanks to my thyroid. I can tell you that, but I won’t because it’s not about the number. I only step on the scale about four times a year now. And that is only because I have to know it to tell other people. The number you see on the scale in the picture? Not even my true weight. And no, I didn’t skew it on purpose. It just happened that way.
It frustrates me how we are told/trained to be so focused on weight and not health. We exercise ourselves into the ground. We count calories and cut calories without realizing the negative effect it has on our bodies. We go on crazy diets to reach a number we think is ideal then grumble about it because we don’t realize a diet is simply what we eat even before we went on a “diet.” We focus on numbers that don’t tell the story and lose sight everything else that truly matters. If there were such a thing as perfection, we would have all been made to look exactly like each other. Yet we end up in a rat race to look like supermodels, actresses, and rock stars. All for a magic number that magically ruins our unconditional love for ourselves and may not even make us happy in the end.
It doesn’t tell me my muscle versus fat percentage.
It doesn’t tell me what organs are malfunctioning.
It doesn’t tell me about my fight to reclaim my health.
It doesn’t tell me my autoimmune disorders have wreaked havoc inside.
It doesn’t tell me I have multiple food allergies.
It doesn’t tell me the protein and veggies I just ate are healthy for me.
It doesn’t tell me how my clothes feel on me.
It doesn’t tell me how much or how little activity I engage in.
It doesn’t tell me it knows I don’t overeat or consume a lot of sugar.
It doesn’t tell me the fat around my belly is because of my whacked out adrenal glands.
It doesn’t tell me most exercise people think I should be doing is too much stress for my body.
It doesn’t tell me the plateau I hit or the weight I gained was muscle mass, not fat.
It doesn’t tell me about the toxins in the fat that keeps our bodies from burning it off.
It doesn’t tell me I am special.
It doesn’t tell me my smile draws people in.
It doesn’t tell me I don’t need validation.
It doesn’t tell you, you don’t need to be like everyone else.
It doesn’t tell you society has unrealistic expectations of appearances.
It doesn’t tell you to love yourself unconditionally.
It doesn’t tell you, you are beautiful.
It doesn’t tell you, you are loved.
It doesn’t tell you anything but total weight.
It’s just a fucking number.
My friend, OG, sends me into tears every time she sings this song for me. Even if I can’t produce the tears these days, I still get choked up. Listen to the song. Really listen to the lyrics. I’m dedicating this to YOU.