Catherine E. Toth
There's a reason I don't have a scale in my bathroom.
Ignorance, particularly about my weight, is bliss.
Although the fact that I even think about that is really the problem.
See, I know I'm not fat. I'm actually smack in the middle of "normal" in terms of weight and body-fat percentage. I work out at least five days a week. I run, paddleboard, surf, lift weights, walk up stairs, dance in my living room and lug around a very heavy handbag.
So why should I worry about my weight?
Oh, probably because I'm a woman. And, apparently, that's what many of us do.
I know perfectly fit women who complain about their squishy pooches and jiggly thighs. One girlfriend — whose entire body could fit into an overhead storage compartment — complains to me (of all people) that she's getting fat.
It's annoying, but I can't say that I haven't been annoying myself. I complain about my arms, my legs, my slowing metabolism, my persistent need for malassadas.
And like many women, I talk myself into believing that all my problems — shin splints, low self-esteem, credit-card debt, not getting that multimillion-dollar book deal — would disappear if I lost a few extra pounds.
When I stop to think about how ridiculous that is, I don't know if I should laugh, cry or order french fries.
My insecurities go back to childhood. With my wild hair and tendency to fall on asphalt, I wasn't the dainty image of femininity. I towered over my classmates and suffered alone in a training bra in the fourth grade. It was awful.
Fast forward 20 years, and I'm still body-conscious. I avoid wearing teeny tops that squeeze out my arm fat. Shopping for jeans — with these hips! — becomes a lesson in humility.
Most people wouldn't figure this of me, especially since I spend more time in bikinis than turtlenecks. But they don't see me at home, berating myself for a missed workout or struggling to resist the pint of Half Baked in the freezer.
I'm not alone — and that should frighten every woman in America.
A study by the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty found that nine out of every 10 teenage girls aren't satisfied with their appearance, and only 2 percent of women consider themselves beautiful.
That's appalling, especially since we instinctively know that beauty comes from our spirit, not our size.
I'll never be an extra-small, and I'm learning to be OK with that. Self-acceptance doesn't come easy, but I know it'll bring me to a place where I can finally be happy.
With myself, with my hips and with those malassadas.
Reach Catherine E. Toth at email@example.com.