My family was lucky enough to spend a week at the North Carolina coast this summer. This annual event is an opportunity to spend time with our extended family away from the stressors of “real life.” The week is never complete without riding waves, cooking contests, and watching lots of old movies.
One evening during our "beach week," I took my 5 year old into the master bathroom of the house we were renting to give her a bath. She saw a scale on the floor of the bathroom, pointed at it, and said, “What is that, Mama?”
I have to say, it was a very proud moment for me. I’m so glad my daughter has lived 5 years and has no idea what a bathroom scale is. To me, this means she hasn’t yet absorbed the negative messages about weight that our culture constantly teaches. I hope she can live another 5 years and not receive the false messages that her body might be wrong.
There was a time in my life that I did own a scale. At one point, I stuck it under my bathroom sink, but a few years later, I decided to throw it away so my children wouldn’t grow up with it as a household fixture. I haven’t missed it and more than anything, it would interfere with what I want to model for my children.
Why I don’t own a scale:
- It sends a message that weight gain is something to fear. Bodies change throughout our lifetime. That is part of being a human. For many people, this means weight gain as we age. If a child sees a parent stepping on a scale and reacting in a negative way to weight gain, they are given the message that weight gain is bad. Children need to be gaining weight. Weight gain is a sign of growth and development and needs to happen throughout childhood and adolescence. Each time a child goes to the doctor, the hope is that their weight is up. What a confusing message this can be, if their parent is modeling that weight gain is a bad thing. Interested in more information about typical weight gain? Check out our podcast with Katherine Zavodni on puberty and our post A Letter to Your Child's Doctor.
- It teaches body distrust. I want to teach my children that they are wise and their bodies are wise. If a parent is stepping on the scale, they model using external information to make decisions about how they are doing. Instead, I want my children to see me modeling looking within myself for information about how I feel and how my body is doing. Do I have energy? Am I sleeping well? Am I hungry? Am I full? What am I craving? Do I feel relaxed? Do I feel safe? These are all examples of internal messages, that I want my children to hone in on for themselves and trust.
- It’s a behavior that is associated with eating disorders. Frequent weighing can be a part of a person’s eating disorder behavior. I know it is a behavior I work with my clients on, to stop or decrease in frequency. However, it is normalized or even prescribed by medical providers as a way to stay “healthy.” Deb Burgard, a psychotherapist and one of the very early contributors and advocates of Health at Every Size(R), has a famous quote, “We prescribe in fat people what we diagnose in thin people.” Weighing is an example of this. We know that dieting is a risk factor of eating disorders and dieting and weighing go hand and hand. Check out our post about why dieting is harmful to children (and all people)!
What are the reasons you don’t own a scale?
Or, what is a compelling reason you might consider to throw yours out?
What is the scariest thing about considering giving it up?
We’d love to hear from you.