How Weighing Ourselves Affects Our Self-Esteem
Worried friends and family of someone with an eating disorder mean well when they say things like “just eat” or “you’re getting so thin.” But those words often put someone struggling with an eating disorder on the defensive. Such comments may even give them more incentive to continue their behavior. The same goes for comments about weight gain or needing to lose weight. Comments like “should you be eating that” or “looks like you’ve gained some weight” are embarrassing, especially to someone who already feels ashamed.
I spent my childhood being ashamed of my body. Every doctor’s visit included a weigh-in. The pediatrician told me to watch my weight and encouraged me to diet. To a growing child and self-conscious teenager, those words were humiliating and harmful. I knew I was overweight, but his words made me feel ashamed, not just of my body, but of the person I was.
During the years I struggled with my eating disorder I would weigh myself every day and sometimes up to 15 times a day. The number on the scale dictated my mood, how I felt about myself, and what I allowed myself to eat. As part of my eating disorder recovery, I stopped weighing myself and I haven’t weighed myself since. With both of my pregnancies, I weighed backward so I couldn’t see the number on the scale. I knew that if I saw the number it would negatively affect me and possibly send me down another disordered eating spiral.
A Difficult Change: Weighing and Self-Esteem
This was one of the hardest things I had to do in my recovery. Weighing myself had become an integral part of my day and who I was. I relied on it for security, thinking I was doing the “right” thing by having a low number and accountability that I didn’t let myself gain too much weight. I know I’m not alone. Many individuals weigh themselves every week, every day or multiple times a day. Our society is obsessed with weight and body size. I encourage everybody to think about why they weigh themselves and ask what would happen if they stopped. I urge everyone to take NEDA’s No Weigh! A Declaration of Independence from a Weight Obsessed World pledge. Instead of focusing on the number on the scale, concentrate on loving and honoring your body and celebrating everything your body can do.