1 : a deduction from the gross weight of a substance and its container made in allowance for the weight of the container; also: the weight of the container
2 : counterweight
i had an issue with weight for a long time. it started when i was in the fifth grade. this was probably around the time girls naturally begin to get self-conscious about their looks, but it took two comments to push me over the edge:
1) twice a year our whole class would have to go to nurse mclaughlin's office and wait in a long line to get weighed, measured, and checked for scoliosis and head lice. i actually really enjoyed this process because i liked getting out of class and i loved the feeling hands touching my scalp.
i weighed in at 80 pounds that year. that didn't really mean anything to me until i told jane moritz my weight:
80 pounds!!! For a fifth grader!?! i'm only 68 pounds.
i didn't know how to react. i knew i wasn't fat, but i certainly wasn't as skinny as some of the girls. jane wasn't skinny either. she was just shorter than me. but that still put her at an advantage. she still had the number 68 to throw around. i would have to lie if i wanted any respect.
2) later that year, when jean cut-off season officially arrived, i found i had a difficult time fitting into last year's shorts. wearing shorts to school was really important in those days—it signified that the weather was turning, which meant summer was coming, which meant the school year was nearly over. i squeezed into them one morning just to show that i was ready.
i happened to mention to joanna pisani that my shorts were tight. joanna was one of those girls who was inadvertently a friend because our moms knew each other or we had kindergarten together or something. one of those people you don't like and can't quite remember why you associate with them but are too young and scared not to.
fatty! she called me.
i was devastated, but tried to play it off like i didn't care. joanna was a rod, probably way to skinny for her own health. in fact, i think her mother may have been anorexic. but this was the ideal at ten years old.
these two instances are what implanted self-consciousness about weight into my young brain. i was never over-weight. i was never even the "fat girl." i was totally average, but i thought i was disgusting for a solid fifteen years. whenever i went to the doctor and got weighed, i would obsess about removing as much clothing as possible in order to achieve a lower number. if it were up to me i would have gotten entirely naked, zeroing my TARE weight, before i stepped onto the cold linoleum scale.
when i was twenty-four i went on a strict diet and lost 35 pounds. i don't know why i never did it earlier, i guess i was just tired of feeling sorry for myself and reasoned that it would be easier to lose weight than it would be to convince myself that i looked fine. now, people sometimes refer to me as slender or slight or (my favorite) svelte. this is still foreign to me. i know i'm thin, but i still feel like the same person. sometimes i still look in the mirror and get surprised about how thin i am.
i realize it's better to just accept yourself the way you are, but, to be honest, that is hard. losing weight was fairly easy. for me, it was a science of precision: counting calories. as simple as that. there are dozens of other things i need to accept about myself that i cannot change as easily as my weight. so, while i'm working on feeling better about those things, it's at least nice to feel good about how i look.
i admit, i'm not the greatest role model today, but i'm fighting my own battle.