Note to male readers: This post, while it doesn't explicitly mention ovaries, is probably mainly of interest to women. So the stereotype would have me believe, anyway. I'm not going to be condescending and tell you to go watch the football or lift some toilet seats or something. But if you read on and find yourself outside your comfort zone, don't blame me.
A couple of months ago, Ann-Marie had a hilarious post about her irrational fear of answering the doorbell. While I can't describe my fear as wittily as she can, I believe I can top her in the ridiculous-phobia department: I have a fear of being weighed.
I don't mean the dread every woman gets while waiting for the final number to come up on the scale, I mean that the soles of my feet break out into a sweat whenever I'm even in a room with a scale in it. I mean I avoid going to the doctor unless I think there's more than a trivial chance I might die without treatment, because you never know when the nurse might decide to update my weight in my records.
There is some background to this. I grew up with the same complexes about weight and diet as most American women. Then, in my 20s, I developed an endocrine disorder that caused me to put on a lot of weight in a short time, and was absolutely miserable. When I finally started getting effective treatment, a good bit of the weight came off. I gradually lost still more after I started eating mainly organic (thus giving up a lot of fattening processed foods) and began exercising more and spending more time outdoors.
Then, a couple of years ago, I decided to go all-out and became downright skinny (a UK size 8 or U.S. size 4, at least with the kinder designers). Many people have breathlessly asked for my "secret", so here it is: I starved myself. For about six months I observed a Ramadan-style fast, eating nothing between sunrise and sunset. It was hard, but it became weirdly addictive after a while.
I know that my approach went against the "conventional wisdom" about dieting that is constantly pumped into us. But it happened to get exactly the results that "conventional wisdom" says every woman should want. And I can tell you that the simple act (or was it a non-act?) of not eating earned me more widespread praise and admiration, more smiles and goodwill, than anything I've ever created; more than anything I've tried to accomplish through intelligence and hard work; more than any of my attempts to reach out to others or to do good in the world.
Finally, when I started having to worry about my wedding ring falling off, I decided I'd better buy a scale to make sure I wasn't fading away to nothing. So I got one and -- eventually -- forced myself to stand on it. Having managed that once, I then made myself weigh in every day. I thought I finally had the fear beaten, but my routine was interrupted for some time when we moved house, and when I approached the scale again I found that the phobia was back. I've started eating normal meals again, and while I don't think I've put on a dramatic amount of weight, I'm afraid to find out.
Now I've received an "invitation" (gee, thanks) for an exam at my doctor's surgery, and I'm already reviewing strategems in my head: Maybe if I go on a day when they're really booked up, they won't have time to weigh me ... maybe if I go on a diet the week before ... or run all the way to the surgery ....
It would be nice to be able to accept myself and think of the weigh-in as neutral statistic-taking. To be weighed in the balance and not fear being found wanting.