Yesterday, my 8-year-old and I went to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription. While waiting, he checked his weight and blood pressure on a fancy machine that I’ve never seen there before. When I realized that the machine also checked Body Mass Index, I told him I wanted to weigh myself. As the numbers flashed on the screen, I swallowed hard.
“Is that really how much you weigh?!” His mouth was literally hanging open in shock, because little boys who weigh 68 pounds have no idea how much adults are supposed to weigh. Also, I’ve been stress eating for literally 6 months straight, so you do the math.
I forced myself to erase all emotion from my face and voice as I chirped “Yep!” and got off the scale with as much dignity as one can muster in the pharmacy waiting area of a Rite-Aid drug store.
I wanted to say that I need to lose 15 pounds.
I wanted to say that I feel fat and gross and I need to take better care of myself.
I wanted to say that I’m healthy, I exercise, and it’s just a number.
I wanted to apologize, explain, or drill into his head that it’s never okay to speak about a woman’s weight.
Most of all, I wanted to grab him by the shoulders and say NEVER REPEAT THAT NUMBER TO ANYONE, DO YOU HEAR ME????
Instead, I smiled, put my arm around him, and we walked out of the store. The first step in teaching our children self-confidence is to demonstrate it, even if we have to fake our way through it sometimes. It makes me wonder how many times my own mother masked her true feelings in order to teach me lessons in body acceptance.
My weight is a number that changes every day, my weight does not define me as a person, and my job as a mother is to instill in my children what things actually matter in life.
That number is not one of those things.