Well Being

Ditching The Scale Doesn’t Stop Women From Self Loathing

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mean girlsI know I've been especially prone to mocking The Daily Mail as of late, somehow more than usual, but that's because they've been really on their game and providing me with an embarrassment of posts to roll my eyes at.

The particular post that had my ocular muscles spinning on this fine day is entitled The outfits that tell us when it's time to lose weight: As Carol Vorderman says her snug trousers keep her trim, what's YOUR ‘bulge barometer'? Once my eyes stopped spinning, I realized that I actually kind of liked some aspects of the post. It starts off:

From the too-tight trousers taunting us from the back of the wardrobe to the sexy dress spurring us to stick to our diet, many of us keep an item of clothing to remind us of our slimmer days – rather like Carol Vorderman, who revealed last week that she doesn't own a pair of scales, but uses a pair of unforgiving designer ‘trying on trousers' to gauge her weight.

Then the article goes on to have five writers spill about what garment they use as a “personal body barometer” and includes pictures of them in the particular piece of clothing. It quickly turns into a self-body snarking bonanza that would even bum the gang in Mean Girls out.

These featured women are all cool and successful, but like many others (including myself) they let judge themselves for their appearance and place unnecessary value on body size. It's difficult to stomach their self deprecating criticisms because they're all too familiar. Recently, a pair of jeans I consider my “chubby period jeans” felt pretty snug and I couldn't stop talking about it to my close friends.

Here are the most upsetting self-hating and insecure bits:

Woman number one has a pair of “bench mark trousers” that she tries “on weekly to see if [she] need to lose weight.”

The trousers are a very powerful garment, in order to fit in them:

“for seven days [she] ate nothing but scrambled eggs and lost 5lb”

Fitting in the pants is so important to her that she's willing to put herself through Edie the Egg Lady torture again:

“As this picture shows only too well, I still have a few more helpings of scrambled eggs to go before I can wear my benchmark trousers once more.”


Another featured woman uses the zipper on a thirteen-year-old floral dress to determine how much to hate her body, or as she puts it her “battle against middle-age spread is measured by how much effort it takes to do it up.”

There's a lot at stake with this zipper

“If it glides effortlessly to the top, I am elated. If it takes brute force – and gets stuck somewhere between my waist and armpit – my heart sinks.”

the saddest line from the post, most accurately explaining what it feels like to look at yourself when you feel gross:

But [the dress] has its faults – or I do. At times it has been seriously tight across the mid-section. If I put on too much weight, the waistband seems to accentuate the rolls of belly fat, squishing them into a bulge that makes me look five months pregnant from the side.

She uses such specific language, I totally understand this woman and her relationship with her dress.

The fact that the zip is juddering – and I have to hold the two sides together to get it even close to being sealed – means my early warning system has sounded…This dress takes no prisoners. It's clear that it's time to get back to the gym.

Another writer's garment-turned-scale is a pair of “grey leopard-print, size 8 skinny jeans” she bought herself as a birthday present/treat for losing five pounds.

Her weight fluctuates “with alarming frequency” and her magic jeans help her determine her current yo-yo swing:

As soon as I pull on my skinny jeans, I can tell if I am in a slim phase or a heavier one. If I am in good shape, they pull on smoothly and do up without a struggle…If I have gained weight, the pattern just serves to accentuate the heft. In the worst case scenario, I don't manage to get them on at all.

The worst case scenario should never relate to a pair of jeans but I totally get it. The day I can't get my chubby jeans on, I'm going to freak the fuck out and go on a self-hating rage spiral.

The Daily Mail may objectively be the worst garbage on the internet, but this was kind of an interesting read. There was something touching about being able to relate to these awesome women who hate their bodies. Improving women's body image is a great goal and negative body talk sucks and should be discouraged, but pretending that body-negativity doesn't exist doesn't make it go away.

via The Daily Mail//Image via Mean Girls (2004)