Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Let's talk about weight

Today, we're going to talk about weight. Human body weight, that is. And let me start off by saying that I am only an expert in this subject insomuch as I have some weight, and I am a person, which is why I'm really only going to talk about my own human body weight. This might get weirdly personal real quick, y'all, but whatever, let's dive right in.

Like you, my body weight has reflected several different numbers over the course of my life. When I was born, I weighed a little over seven pounds, which I’ve heard is normal for a newborn. At that time, my weight wasn’t of major concern to me. I had more pressing issues such as, you know, being born and things like communicating my need for sustenance.

As I grew older, I became increasingly more aware of my body. In eighth grade, I have a distinct memory of stepping on the scale in my parents’ bathroom about ten times in a row one afternoon. Each time I did, the digital screen read “136.” Back then, I remember those three numbers feeling like a kick in the stomach. Forget the fact that I was a growing, healthy kid. In my thirteen-year-old brain, I genuinely believed that my body was expanding at an alarming rate. I felt a lot like this, actually:

As an adult, my weight has fluctuated within a range of about thirty pounds. At my lowest, I weighed 145, but I have to confess that I only existed at such a weight under the most extreme conditions of my life. As a college student, I worked at a camp every summer, which doesn't sound like Crossfit, I know, but believe me, it was truly physically demanding. In the grueling 100-plus-degree heat, I pushed my body up and down hills while carrying giant water jugs, a massive backpack, and sometimes an eight-year-old or two. I basically never stopped moving or sweating or pushing my body to its limits. I ate seconds every day at breakfast along with chicken fried steak and a side of cake at dinner, and still, I lost weight. Lots of weight. I would leave each summer flat-chested and incapable of regulating my body heat in air-conditioned buildings.

Me doing the camp thing. Note my sweat lines.
Also, feel free to check out my boobs. Psych! They aren't there.
But then I would go back to school, and I would either eat healthy or I wouldn't, and I would soon be back to weighing within 155 and 170 pounds. College was a time where I was rarely happy with the way I looked. While I wasn't a fan of how my summers seemed to rob me of my natural feminine features, I still just wanted so badly to resemble the other girls at my school. Skinny, athletic, bright-eyed with thighs that never touched and chins that never doubled. The more I weighed, the further I felt from the physical ideal I had invented in my mind.

Like most women (and most men, I would assume), I've lived a large part of my life wishing the number on my scale could be different. Over the years, I've obsessed over it, cried over it, and spent a good deal of energy trying to change it.

But now, suddenly and without warning, I've kind of reached this new step in my relationship with my weight, and it's a bit surprising to me, actually. This morning, I stepped on the scale and it reflected back to me what I already knew: I weigh 174 pounds. That's roughly twenty-five times my birth weight, almost forty pounds more than what I weighed in middle school when I thought I looked like a blob. And it is literally one pound more than the weight of the heaviest pit bull in the world.

And you know what, honestly, I feel pretty good. Maybe the best I've ever felt.

Meet Hulk. He weighs 173 pounds. We should swap clothes. (via Bored Panda)

Whenever I share that number (174 pounds), friends often respond by saying, "No! No way. That can't be right." And I'm never really sure how to react to that. Thank you? I guess?

So maybe you think that's a high number. Maybe you think it's low. Maybe you think it's normal. Perhaps you weigh more and perhaps you weigh less. Whatever, I'm not here to make any decisions on whether 174 pounds is a lot.

Because regardless of what my number sounds like to anyone else, the fact is I'm relatively good with it. My entire adult life, even during those summers of poke-able ribs and cheekbones, I have always technically been overweight, at least according to my Body Mass Index. You know about that whole thing, right? BMI: a measurement of relative size which indicates that Brad Pitt is technically obese. Yeah...

So needless to say, this is no different from any other time in my life. But the thing that is different is that lately, for the most part, when I look in the mirror, I like what I see. I enjoy dressing up my body, making my hair big, and putting on a pair of fringed boots and walking out the door. I love my full face, my strong legs, my general appearance. Overall, I just feel like myself.

And I'm not really sure what caused this shift in my perception of my body. Maybe it's the fact that I'm a bit older, a bit wiser, a bit further removed from the dorms at Baylor University. Regardless, I've become a lot less fixated on my numbers. I care about different things now: feeling good, making positive choices -- all that good stuff. I've simply lost interest in pushing against my natural shape.

And by the way, I'm not 100% certain why I decided to write this post today. Perhaps I'll wake up tomorrow wishing I hadn't shared my exact weight with all of my readers. I suppose I just feel like there's still junk to sort out in the larger body image conversation. When we talk about weight, culturally, we tend do it in this vague, roundabout way. We don't mention a lot of specifics, and we certainly never mention numbers. We talk about health, beauty, and we make a hundred different contradictory statements about what it means to have either. And despite everyone's best efforts, many women are still left feeling like crap about themselves.

I guess by putting my number out there today, I mostly just want to take some power away from it. Weight is not this big secret that we need to hide, something that we should only talk about in hushed tones. It's a stat. It's trivia. It's information as scandalous as eye color, blood type, or favorite movie. It is just a thing you've got, and for the most part, it's not even a good indicator of wellness.

So yeah, I weigh 174 pounds, and I look fantastic in a wrap dress. I'd be lying if I said that I didn't wish my number was marginally less, but that honestly doesn't stop me from feeling good about my body. And knowing that has made a big difference for me, and I don't know, maybe it could make a big difference for you too. 

Anyway, how much do YOU weigh?
Haha, jkjkjkjkjk (unless you feel like sharing, I guess)
Got anything to add to this conversation?
Comment below!


  1. I'm glad you feel comfortable in your body now, I certainly wish I did. I have put on A LOT of weight over the past 3 years or so, I hate it, I still feel like that size 12 girl who thought she was fat, only now I look in the mirror and see an actual blob. It's awful. I hate it.
    Sorry to ramble in your comments, I hope that one day I can feel comfortable about my weight though.

  2. Is it weird that I almost cried reading this (and not because that pit bull is so awesome)? This was amazing. I am the exact same weight and I think we're the same-ish height and it drives me bonkers when I see "obese" on the BMI index. I'm healthy, damnit! My childhood was full of blonde Scandinavian skinny friends (thanks, Minnesota childhood) while I was the Irish lass with a big ass who got called Thunder Thighs in middle school. I really try to adopt the mindset of ignoring the number as long as I'm healthy and clothes fit, but it's hard. Life is really too short to worry about stupid stuff like this. Kudos to you for getting to this "wave your hands in the air like you just don't care" point, I hope I join you there soon.

  3. I love your point about weight being the same as eye color and blood type. I've always thought it was funny that women, especially, don't like sharing their weight (myself included), because everyone can SEE us. It's not like a number will suddenly change their opinion about our appearance. Everyone carries weight differently. Some people have denser bones. Some people have more muscle. And what's the big deal? It's a number. As long as you are healthy and happy, it shouldn't make one bit of difference. It's just hard to remember that sometimes. :) Like you, I am finally getting to a place where I don't obsess about the number (most of the time). :)

  4. Wow, Christy, thank you so much for sharing this! I really appreciate your honesty, like you said, most of the time in the whole 'love your body" discussion, an actual number is never mentioned, just a vague 'love the skin your in' vibe. I recently found out I weigh about 15 lb. heavier than I thought I did. Which, as I say this, doesn't sound like very much, but my family does have a history of anorexia. I personally have never struggled with it, but seeing my family go through it terrified me. Giving into that trap of self hatred is so easy, and that's why it's so wonderful to read something like this post! Like you, I've decided to be comfortable and happy with my body. You are so right, weight is just a number, and it shouldn't mean anything. It's not a big secret. I weigh about 145 lb. See, I can be honest too. ;) Thank you so much for posting this.
    On a much more superficial note....are those foxes on that scarf you are wearing with your red coat? That is too cute!

  5. Loved your honesty in this post. Weight is something we all struggle with from time to time, and some people more than others. Its awesome you are finally at a comfortable and healthy place. You look great to me! ~megan

  6. In Holland, no one seems to worry about their weight. Teenage girls walk around in tight tops with substantial love handles around their waist. They eat fries, lekkerbeks (deep fried batter covered cod filets) smothered in mayonnaise and whipped cream pies with gusto. Women big, tall, medium small all wear fashionable clothes and distinctive styles with pleasure and flair. They have fashion in their bones or training since they were young. Women who in US would be considered less than glamorous, have loving relationships or marriages and happy family lives. Weight is less of an issue than being a creative, fun-loving happy person. I used to spend decades wanting to fit into size 4 pants like that one golden moment in my 20's until I got older, really gained weight and went up 2-3 pants sizes. What a waste of time! You really are wonderful as you are. If the pants don't fit, get new ones that do! And stop looking at all those photos of size zeroes. That's not real life, ha ha. Throw out the scale and stay active and healthy. Be with people who matter to you and respect who you are. We all have cringe-worthy days when we feel we don't measure up to some ideal. Maybe we should ask ourselves why we have this ideal. Maybe all this time and money will be freed up so we can care about other people who don't have the luxury of worrying about their weight because they don't have anything to eat or have no futures or homes because of wars in their country. Not to add more guilt trips, but I think L'Oreal and Chanel have made enough money off of encouraging false hopes. It's a very sophisticated and seductive packaging of snake oil. I'm not here to kill the romance but being attractive starts with confidence so doing something that makes you feel authentic will last longer. Wear things that bring you joy -- if you can't fit that perfect dress, get that perfect ring. (This is coming from someone who is 5'3" surrounded by Dutch women who are blonde and tower at 5'10" or more.) Thanks for sharing such personal details. I think you are beautiful -- you have such a beautiful smile!

  7. I look forward to a day when I can be like this. I don't know when it will be or what it will look like, but I think there are various things you just have to get accustomed to about yourself—hair, eyes, nose shape, the smells you make, the shape of your nails—and you have to realize that you are more than the sum of your parts, I guess. And I'm still working my way there, but it's still encouraging to see that someone else has managed (even if only for a day :) ).


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