Yesterday at my doctor’s appointment, I was forced to face the most feared and loathesome device in the office. It happened to be my single, most sinister enemy- the instrument that could ruin any mood I am in at any particular time. I shudder to even murmur its name, akin to the nature of ‘Voldemort’ in the Harry Potter books:
I hate scales. Their only purpose is to remind me not to eat a bowl of cereal before I go to bed, or that the dessert I ate after dinner the night before was a mistake. I have been self-conscious about my weight since high school and have gone back and forth from obsession with the scale to downright rejection of its power. Any attempt I made to lose weight, from running half marathons to restricting my carb consumption, seemed to directly contradict the scale’s verdict on my well being. During my final year of college I decided I would be happier just not knowing, and refused to step on the scale due to my own cowardice.
Little did I know, when you are pregnant, you have to step on a scale every month. Yesterday the scale happily informed my nurse and I that I had gained 10lbs since my last appointment and had set a new max-weight record. It ruined my day, and though my baby was healthy and my genetic screening had come back negative, I felt awful. My husband took me to Panera Bread afterward in an effort to cheer me up, but the place seemed to be swarmed with Size 2 women and fit-looking moms. I silently cursed them over my salad, hating them for eating turkey sandwiches and being so thin. My husband saw me oggling a crowd of skinny twenty-somethings in their small yoga pants and leaned over to me, saying simply, “You are beautiful just the way you are.” And that’s when I asked myself:
Why do I care?
I have been caught up in body image my entire life, and I know I’m not the only one. A Gallup Poll from 2006 shows that 56% of Americans want to lose weight in some way, shape, or form. One of the harder parts of being pregnant for me has been letting go of this constant “get skinny” mindset I have always forced myself into and start embracing the beauty of creation of life. Weight gain is natural during pregnancy, and despite the media’s relentless ridicule of celebrities who gain baby weight- a pretty good sign things are going well with your baby. I have wasted so much time thinking of myself and comparing myself to other people that I have missed out on truly appreciating what a miracle it is that I have a healthy, growing child in my womb- a privilege denied to too many women.
It’s just another one of the many lessons my unborn baby is teaching me about life: to be happy with how I look! I am learning to stop fretting about my thighs and to start focusing on what is best for my baby to eat. And you know, I’m already having a better day. It might take a while, but I fully intend on looking the scale in the face next time and facing it with the knowledge that I can be beautiful if only I decide to be.