In her book, ‘Body Positive Power’, Megan Jayne Crabbe had a challenge about Tummy Love. The challenge was to caress and touch your tummy, feel the softness and shapes and enjoy them. Give them respect rather than ignore them, berate them or even poke, prod or tug on them. I thought… Easy peasy! Every morning I unconsciously touch my tummy and feel the soft roundness of my belly. However, today it occurred to me as I felt my belly, that I wasn’t giving it love, I was measuring. Measuring to see if it felt bigger or smaller, whether there are more stretch marks, is it over-hanging more than usual? Am I OK? Do I approve of the shape I have today? Well this morning the answer was “YES”. Now, after my bout of self-doubt last week, you might think “Yay! Good for you” which was my initial reaction. I felt my tummy, I was not magically a size 8, but I felt less bloaty, I felt that I might, maybe, could have lost some weight. So do you know what my first thought was…? Can you guess what I wanted to do to celebrate waking up and not hating my body? Stroke it and tell it that it is my body, it is beautiful and I love it for keeping me mobile, healthy and alive? Treat it to some pampering? Slather it in almond body butter and massage it in to my skin? Put some nice underwear on and parade around the house delighted with myself? NOPE. No… My immediate reaction was to head for the scales, to jump on them and let them tell me if I deserve to feel good about myself.
The lure of them is almost intoxicating, like a mermaid luring a sailor to his watery demise. Almost hypnotised by their call, I started towards them, THEN something happened. I stopped. I broke the spell. I backed away and thought about what I was about to do. I was about to jeopardise all my positive feelings this morning, I was about to leave the decision about whether I was going to carry on loving myself for the rest of the day down to a machine. A machine that doesn’t care for my mental state or if I have had a heavy meal or not had a poo that morning, it will just give me the cold hard facts. The numbers that it registers and chucks out are a measurement of how much body mass is stood on that tiny glass surface. Those numbers can have the ability to change my mood for the whole day. If the numbers are less than before, I pat myself on the back and tell myself I’m a good girl. If not if they have increased, instant shame. I then think everyone can tell and that that number is somehow tattooed on my head like a scarlet letter.
This also reminds me that I have a Wii Fit that I don’t use any more and there is a reason for it. I started tracking my weight on it when I started Slimming World, for the millionth time, back in 2015. I thought it was funny, at first, when I stood on it and the scales said “ouch”. I also liked designing my avatar and personalising it. But I hated to see it skinny and suddenly get fat as it registered my weight and BMI. Why couldn’t it just be my shape? Why did it have to be a slim version of me, showing me what I could have won? Why did I listen to a fat shaming machine to try and motivate myself? So no, I don’t use it any more, as it’s not funny that it exclaims when I stand on it AND it’s certainly not OK for my avatar to be a false representation of me, just so it can balloon and make me embarrassed to be who I am. So my dear Wii Fit you might be joining the rest of the junk going to the boot fair! (Although I do love a bit of an Alien shoot ’em up).
So I think it’s time for me to try and break the cycle. It’s not going to be easy, as all my self-worth has rested on the reading that little machine chucks out. These scales don’t care that I’m smart, creative, prettyish, sometimes brave, healthy, happy, loyal, generous, funny, stylish (some might say), friendly, cheerful, joyous…. And most importantly LOVED. I am going to try to place my self-worth based on those things and that little glass platform can fuck right off!
By the way, did I tell you your body is an amazing piece of artwork and machinery that shouldn’t be shamed or measured? You are awesome! ❤❤❤