I weigh myself every Tuesday, because if I got on the scale
every single day, it would drive me fucking bonkers, the way my body likes to
play mean tricks. Up one! Down one! Up a half, down two, whoops, fooled you! I
like to stay relatively sane–that’s relative to my general state of madness
and chaos, not to the people of the world who I think achieve
slightly more stability than I ever manage–and trying to stay off the scale,
that is one small step towards not letting my head pop off and roll across the
floor, giggling madly.
I just lied to you. I do not weigh myself every Tuesday. I
mean, I used to. I was so disciplined and smart, so level-headed and logical,
not letting my head get turned by the numbers on the scale. All the way up
until the beginning of this month, I weighed myself only first thing Tuesday
morning, after I peed, and without my nightgown because that is totally an
extra pound right there. The neighbor, I bet, waited breathlessly with
binoculars every week at exactly 8:05 a.m. I
hopped on the scale, looked at the number and I was pleased, made a mental
note, and I hopped off and I went on with my life. Until the numbers started
creeping down and down and closer and closer to a number I have not seen on the
scale for 15 years.
Two hundred pounds. I don’t remember the last time I weighed 200 pounds, and I certainly don’t remember the last time I’ve been
under that number. I mean, I must have been, at some point in my life. I would
have killed my mother had I exploded from her womb as a 200-pound
child. And while it would have made for
some awesome headlines, I was not a 200-pound toddler, or Kindergartener
or middle schooler. I think I was probably well under 200 pounds in
high school, too. Though I remember myself as grotesquely obese and hideously
deformed, pictures show that I was chubby, a little plumpy and delicious, but
nowhere near as gigantic as I felt that I was.
When did I get to weigh over 200 pounds? How do I not
remember this at all? You’d think it would be an enormous moment (oh, I didn’t
mean to make that pun, and yet there it is, glaring at me) when I broke this
barrier that seems to horrify people. You think I would have noticed passing
the line that marks the overweight from the just plain fat, that I might have
marked the occasion of my passing from polite and almost-normal society into
the ranks of the what has she done to herself? with some kind of, I don’t
know, binge on buttered ham, which would be pretty memorable.
I’ve noticed that when someone wants to talk about a
disgustingly obese woman who just breaks all bounds of fat and propriety, they
say things like "God, she must weigh over two hundred pounds! She’s
got to be at least 200
pounds!" As if they had any idea what the means, or what that looks like.
Over and over, I’ve found that not only do people have no fucking clue what fat
really looks like, but people seem to have no idea what weight really means. As
if there is some kind of universal body size for every notch on the scale. Men,
in their personal ads, looking for a woman who is 5’9" and weighs 110 pounds?
They are out of their fucking minds.
Two hundred pounds is wildly varying degrees of overweight on
wildly differing people. But 200 pounds is also a round and magical
number that seems to scare people going up, and exhilarate people going down.
I really didn’t notice when I passed the mark–or maybe I did, and I am blocking
out the terrible memory, and the buttered ham–but I sure started to notice, at
some point, that I didn’t remember ever weighing less than 200. My
memories of my weight, when I first started to really acknowledge and pay
attention to that number on the scale, all seem to center around the fact that
I was over 200 pounds and didn’t think I’d be anywhere less than
I hovered around 230 for a long time, bounced up to what I
thought was my highest weight in the 250s, and then the 270s, and then I
plummeted like a stone, all the way down to the two-teens, and I really thought
I was going to do it. I was going to get out of the 200s, which had
started to feel like a life sentence. And then, the gain all the way up to my
highest weight ever, and now the drop, all the way down to just above 200, which had started to obsess and obsess and obsess me. Every morning,
climbing on to the scale three times, to make sure that the weight was correct.
And usually taking the lowest weight. The scale would read 202, and then 202,
and then 202, and–well, you can imagine. Nothing and nothing and nothing for
all time, a half pound drop. A half pound gain. A pound dropped, and then
sticking steady. In Massachusetts,
I was extremely cross the bed and breakfast did not have a scale.
I didn’t lose weight on vacation (shocker!) and didn’t run,
either. There are very few places to run in rural
Massachusetts, as it turns out. But I kept
weighing and weighing and weighing and sighing and sighing and sighing and then
this morning, I got on the scale and screamed. I got off, and got back on, and
screamed again. And one more time, for good luck. And I screamed.
"Oh my God!" Guy said, staggering into the room, half asleep. "Are you okay? What’s
wrong? Did you step on a nail? What happened?" I pointed at the scale. He
squinted at the number. "One ninety nine," he said. And I burst into