Weight weight… don’t tell me


Several years ago, I threw out my scale. The contraption had come to rule my life, with every weigh-in feeling like spinning a wheel in a game show – What did she win, Bob? – except the needle never landed on the jackpot. Tossing my scale into the dumpster was equal parts terrifying and liberating, and for years, I had no idea what I weighed.

But this past year, my mind started to play tricks on me. The mirror has never been dependable for me, as the image I see rarely matches reality. The old paranoia started to creep in; I was convinced I was gaining weight, even though my clothes still fit and my diet hadn’t changed. And while I kept a good poker face about it and didn’t mention this insecurity to almost anyone, inside, I was falling apart.

So in January, I decided to once again embrace the scale. In the midst of the mind-games that were yanking me around, I needed an objective number to ground me in reality. And no one is more surprised than me, but these days, I have to admit that knowing my weight is almost a comfort – an unbiased, unemotional truth in a manic world.

On Saturday morning at the gym, I stepped on the scale – the mechanical kind they have at the doctor’s office where the little weights are moved to the right or left until everything is balanced. I automatically set everything to the number I had been last week, but then was horrified to have to keep moving it up, up, up – over 10 pounds higher than it had been a week before.

Panic started to rise in my throat, threatening to strangle me. THIS CANNOT BE, I despaired. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?? NOOOOOOOO!

And then I heard a snicker behind me.

I whipped around to find a man much too old for pranks standing behind me with his foot on the corner of the scale, pressing down, laughing at his own trick. “I got you!” he crowed.

Fine, it’s kind of funny to retell it now – but in the moment? I was not amused. I was not a good sport. After calling him a dipshit in my mind and a terrorist to his face, I said, “That’s one of the meanest things you could do to a woman.” A sudden fury was rising, as were my eyebrows. He must have sensed my intensity, because he took a step back. I turned to face him square on. “Are you going to leave and let me weigh myself? I’LL WAIT.”

He slunk away, I stepped back on the scale and got the number I was expecting, and then spent the rest of the day thinking about body image, weight, beauty, and how they’ve all become so inextricably fused.

I recently saw an interview with Mindy Kaling. When asked, “What’s the biggest compliment someone could pay you?” without skipping a beat she replied, “That I’m beautiful.” No apology. No pretending that her answer was “wise” or “generous” or “compassionate” in the name of respectability. She wanted to be known as beautiful.

And it was so refreshing.

Because ladies, isn’t that it? Maybe I’m alone in this, but I’ll go ahead and own it: I want beauty to be the truest thing about me. Granted, the definition of beauty has been twisted by our culture to the point where it’s difficult to even be able to define it – but we know the real thing when we see it. We want to be associated with it. We were designed to want to be noticed, seen, and enjoyed.

Beauty is beyond the physical, of course – if you say differently, I’ll fight you. But because we live in this very physical world, it includes our bodies, our features, our faces. This is why we make attempts to foster our beauty – not to manufacture it, not to attain it, but to release what is already there. We want our outsides to match our insides, respecting and cherishing the bodies we’ve been given.

Of course, that’s the ideal world. Reality is much more warped.

I manage the Instagram account for my work, and a recent hashtag search accidentally led me to the accounts of young girls struggling with eating disorders. One of them had posted a picture of our product, a 200-calorie snack bar made of nothing but dates, peanuts and sea salt, with the caption, “I feel so guilty about eating this. I don’t deserve food.”

It broke my heart. And while I’ve never struggled with a full-blown eating disorder, I know guilt. I know deprivation. I know workouts as punishment, ubiquitous insecurity, and self-hatred – yes, hatred.

If I were a “tie a bow on it” type of Christian, this would be the time to say that God thinks we’re beautiful (even if the world doesn’t), that our hearts are all that matter (so stop being so vain), and just wait until that glorious day when there will be no more insecurity (the struggles of this life don’t mean a thing). But I’m not that kind of Christian.

I believe that “Thy kingdom come… on earth as it is in heaven” means that the physical here-and-now matters. I believe that our desires are important, because they point us toward something True. I believe that we come into this world packed to the core with beauty, and that part of the work of this life is to let some of that loveliness out, restoring us to what we were originally imagined to be. I believe that we get to play a part in making this sad place beautiful again.

And that’s something worth putting my weight on.



  1. Lanie on December 9, 2013 at 11:24 AM

    Love this post Annie!

  2. Miranda on December 9, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    Thank you, Annie, this post is very timely for me. You are definitely not alone in this. Body image, eating/exercise habits, weight–they’re all proving to be lifelong struggles for me. I expect to see a lot more comments on this post very soon because once a person is brave enough to share struggles publicly, it’s a lot easier for the rest of us to admit that we’re in a similar place. Love you, friend.

  3. Christina on December 9, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    I want to be thin. I just do. It matters to me. It matters how the world sees me. There, I said it. Loving the honesty today. And, man, once I pop this baby out, I have some serious work to do …

  4. Greta on December 9, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    This is the most refreshing thing I’ve seen on beauty in a while:

    Love you friend.

  5. Maria B on December 9, 2013 at 12:40 PM

    Glad you’re doing ok and have a level head about it… but let me put in my two cents and tell you to get rid of that scale, Annie. Even if it’s making you feel comforted right now, are you comfortable for the right reasons?

    Everyone is different and I don’t mean to project, or to assume I know what you need, but that would just be my advice. Will say a prayer that you’ll know the right thing to do.


  6. Brit on December 9, 2013 at 12:46 PM

    You know, there was an article on Elephant Journal about this video / photo going around of a naked woman doing yoga that her husband took. And, this video / photo has caused some bits of uproar, because, at the end of it all, yoga isn’t about attaining some ideal figure. Yoga is an internal journey that not only has effects on our mental being, but it does affect our outer being. I think, as Mindy Kaling put it, being beautiful is something to strive for. And, making sure that “beautiful” is your definition, not one someone else (or society) defines for you.

  7. Leigh Kramer on December 9, 2013 at 1:31 PM

    Yes, yes, yes. You’re not alone in this.

  8. Michelle on December 9, 2013 at 5:41 PM

    Annie, I had an eating disorder that ruled my life for ten years. It miraculously lifted through a prayerful month – someday I will tell you the story. Anyway, to this day the mirror is not an accurate measure and I use the scale to ground me too. I have a big range of what is healthy and fine, and anything within that merits no change whatsoever in my eating habits. I no longer diet, and never will. The mind games are ruthless for a recovered food addict. I mourn the years of self hatred and utter preoccupation with my weight, knowing so many, many women are enduring the same bizarre self- flagellations today. We need each other to set a better standard of beauty than the one we are given, to embrace our bodies and our wrinkles, for the sake of others as well as ourselves. I have always though self-confidence and self-acceptance was beautiful on any form. By the way, you ARE beautiful. Thank you for sharing your beautiful self! Xoxo

  9. The Zadge on December 9, 2013 at 6:21 PM

    Love that not only are you so beautiful, but so damn smart and creative too!

  10. Bryn on December 9, 2013 at 7:55 PM

    Good going, Annie. You did that guy at the gym a favor!

  11. mom on December 9, 2013 at 8:49 PM

    You did come into this world packed with beauty, Annie, and it is a profound and awesome joy to see it being unveiled more and more as the years go by. I will be your biggest fan whether or not you have a scale in your bathroom.

  12. Katie @ cakes, tea and dreams on December 10, 2013 at 1:48 PM

    This is so brave and wise, and I hear you. I bought a scale this year after not owning one for years, because I was sure I was gaining weight. I’ve always been thin, and I want to stay thin, but I don’t want to be obsessive about it. That is so hard.

  13. Erin on December 11, 2013 at 10:42 AM

    You are just killing it lately.

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