When I was in high school, I was obsessed with the scale, and when I stepped onto it, the numbers that appeared on that little screen had a direct correlation with how I measured my self worth. I know that lots of women have felt this way at one point or another (and might feel this way right now), and this makes me so sad for all of us, and for our society.
Since leaving home to go to college, I have not owned a scale, and this has been a very purposeful decision for me. Since I don't have daily access to a scale, I only get weighed a few times per year now (usually when I go to the doctor or go home to visit), and on these seldom occasions when I do see a number, it's not that big of a deal.
I see it, it's usually a bit higher than I would like in my ideal body world, but I take a moment to acknowledge it, and then I typically forget about it within 15 minutes or so. And that's it. Because when you don't think about it all the time, that number simply doesn't mean as much to you.
Over the past 12 years of living without a scale (besides that short time period of time when my roommate brought one into the apartment and I had a little daily-weighing relapse), my weight has stayed within about a 5-8 lb window (as far as I know!). It fluctuates a bit with the season and the year, but the great news is that this fluctuation doesn't have much effect on my self-esteem, because I'm not monitoring it on a daily basis.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not against measuring and tracking many other numbers in my life, like daily steps (on my Fitbit), blog visits, workouts, and podcast downloads, but I've made a calculated decision not to bring weight into the picture, and I think this decision has been a really good one for me, given my history with these sorts of issues.
I know there are health reasons for why some should own a scale, and that the number on the scale can be a source of great satisfaction and motivation for people who are actively trying to lose a lot of weight, so this doesn't apply to everyone. But I do think that for many women--the ones who own scales because they think they "should," in order to shame themselves into eating better or working out more, and the ones who notice a strong link between their self-esteem and that number--getting rid of the scale could be a good idea.
Throwing your scale out the window doesn't mean that you get rid of your desire to stay healthy, or that you don't stay mindful about your size and fitness level, it just means that you change the way that you measure your health. There are many other ways to gauge whether or not you're in a good place for your body type, and for me, the way that my clothing fits and the way that I feel in my body when I really tune inward and pay attention are great indicators of that.
Also, although I know it's basic knowledge now, I feel the need to mention that there are many reasons that the number on the scale doesn't represent how you actually look and feel, just one of which is the fact that muscle tissue weighs more than fat, which I think is very important to keep in mind.
So, all of that being said, here's what I want to encourage you to think about, if you, too, struggle with or have struggled with body image and/or self esteem issues:
Why do you own a scale? How often do you weigh yourself? How big of a part does this number play in how you measure your self-image, self-worth, and the way that you feel about your body?
If your answer to these questions is that your scale doesn't play much of a role in your life at all, or that you hardly ever think about it, then great! You're probably fine owning a scale.
But, if you, like the former me, let the little numbers on your scale's screen dictate how you feel about yourself on a daily basis, maybe it's time to think about getting rid of the scale and finding a new way to measure your self worth.