This is a sad story about a beautiful woman who wasted her life by hating her body.
I wasn’t with her every day, all day, but I knew her well enough to know that her body dissatisfaction sucked a lot of joy from her life. I was her Weight Watchers leader.
I saw her once a week. We met at “the scale.” The scale was a major source of frustration for her. She wanted it to read a number that was neither realistic, nor would she wear it well, had she ever reached that number.
Back in those days Weight Watchers used the Metropolitan Life Insurance weight charts to help members choose their goal weight. She was 5′ 7″. She couldn’t even get her weight as low as the top of the range 121 – 149. A number on the scale told her she was “less than” … less than successful, less than beautiful, less than perfect.
I, and everybody else, could see what she couldn’t see. She was blinded by a number. We saw the woman. We saw the toned, fit, active, vibrant, intelligent, beautiful woman. She saw an unacceptable number on the scale.
Each week, when she weighed-in, she asked, “what can I do to get to goal?”
She replied, “Nothing else is different? I look like I look right now, and I wear this size clothes?”
“Yup! Nothing else is different. You look in the mirror and you see you as you are. You step on the scale and you see the number you’re trying to reach.”
“I’d be ecstatic! Why can’t this stupid body get down to that number? What am I doing wrong? What should I eat? Maybe I should just stop eating! I hate this body!”
That was not the time to launch into a lecture. She wouldn’t hear me. I answered honestly, if she ate less – much less – and stop being so active so her muscles would atrophy, then she could reach her goal weight. I added that this wasn’t advice meant to be taken; it was just the truth.
I suggested that she talk with her doctor to get a goal weight that was not within the Weight Watchers range. I said if everything about your body is good except the number on the scale, then the problem isn’t your body. It’s the number.
She said she’d think about it.
The next morning I was watching the news. A local woman died in a car crash. She was on her way to a political rally and missed her turn. She made a u-turn and was hit broadside by a truck coming the other direction. She was partially ejected from the automobile and never made it alive to the hospital.
I’ll never know if she considered my words. I don’t know if she recognized the gift that was her strong, healthy body. I only know that she wasted precious time hating her body because of a stupid chart and a stupid number. I know there are too many women (and men) just like her.