Recently I went to the DMV to get my new Illinois license. The man behind the counter was extremely chatty for a state worker, and we exchanged pleasantries and conversation while he processed my paperwork. He told me about his wife and his plans to move to Colorado soon, I shared a story about my kids and our recent move from Pittsburgh.
We were simpatico. Until he asked me what my weight was, and I lied right to his face.
Now, I know I’m not the first woman to fudge my numbers a bit, but I have taken great pride in the fact of having a (reasonably) positive body image. I know that I am at a healthy weight, and although I think I could stand to lose a few pounds, I believe I look not-so-bad. So what’s up with the fibbing?
I’ve been thinking about that a lot since last week. I’m not normally a good liar. I portray the classic tell-tale signs when I have to tell a fib for whatever reason: no eye contact, shaky voice, stuttering, etc. But I didn’t do that this time. I looked this nice man right in the eyes and said — well, I’m not going to share what I said, but let’s just say it was about five pounds off of what the scale read that morning.
A study published in Marie Claire’s UK edition back in 2012 said that women claim they weigh an average of 9 pounds less than they actually do. And they don’t just do it on their driver’s licenses. They lie to their closest friends and spouses in order to boost their confidence.
This gave me something to chew on. I started thinking that I NEVER weigh myself in front of my husband or even my kids. In fact, I avoid it at all costs. Did I really think that any of them would love me any less because of those five pounds that I can’t seem to get rid of for, like, forever? Was my quest to be a positive role model for body image for my daughters just a pipe dream?
The answers to both questions are obviously no. So why did I do it?
Well, I have been feeling a little frustrated lately. My kids have been sick all winter, so I have not been able to go to the gym as often as I like. Being stuck in the house all day has been testing my will power, and I may or may not have recently had four brownies and a glass of Chardonnay for dinner one night. And despite my best efforts I recently became a year older, and the evidence of that seems to be appearing daily.
Did telling that lie make me feel better? Not really. Would telling my real weight feel worse. I think the answer is probably.
Fortunately, I don’t think I will be facing eternal damnation for this white lie. But in my constant struggle to love myself just as I am, I will try to stop shaving the numbers, because to be honest, I don’t really think the guy at the DMV cared. And I don’t think my husband or kids would either. And I probably don’t need to tell my doctors every time I get on the scale that my own scale had just said I weighed a few pounds less or that I was retaining water. I don’t really think they care either. I think the only person that sometimes doesn’t love me for me is, well, me.
The good news is since that day I’ve dropped a few pounds, and I am very close to being that weight that my license says I am. Hopefully the DMV will forgive me for my moment of weakness, because I am going to forgive myself.
And while I’m not quite ready to post my weight yet, if you ask me, I’ll try to be honest. If it looks like I’m having a bad day, just subtract five.
Here’s to loving yourself today. When have you ever lied about your weight?