I don’t know how much I weigh, and haven’t since I was 14

Early high school was a rough time for me. As a chubby bookworm, I was considered somewhat of an outcast and was often teased by my classmates. But I managed to avoid feeling self-conscious about my body, I think, because of an impulse decision I made at age 14.

It all came about in gym class, during one of those humiliating fitness tests. You know the drill: they measure how many chin-ups you can do, if you can touch your toes, how tall you are and finally—in front of the whole class—how much you weigh. My teacher was not so cruel as to read out our weight, instead we were asked to write down the number for our personal records. Many girls stepped off the scales with tears in their eyes as they scribbled down the number that the digital scales had given them.

When my turn came, I stepped on the scale and closed by eyes. The teacher told me to look at the scale and write down the number. I refused. My chubby 14-year-old self quietly said, “If it’s important for you to know how much I weigh, then you can write it down, but I don’t want to know.” I stepped off the scale and re-joined the class. To my surprise the teacher did not comment, neither did the class. Everyone just pretended it did not happen, and that suited me just fine.

The next time I had to put a number to my weight was when I was applying for my first passport at age 15. I sat with my parents and filled in all the paperwork, except when it came to my weight. I told my dad that I would leave it until last, then would stand on the scale with my eyes closed, and he could fill in the number and never tell me what it said. He obliged. I was happy. (I have recently filled in another passport application form and was glad to see that they no longer ask for your weight.)

I’m now 29 years old, and I still don’t know my exact weight. I have never owned a scale of my own. I can tell if I have put on weight because my belt notch changes and my clothes get tighter. That is my signal that maybe it’s time to start running again or to lay off the treats a little. I have no concept of calorie intake or what it takes to burn them off either. I simply let my body dictate how much exercise it wants or needs and how much food it desires on any certain day. This has allowed me to not obsess over my body the way I could have if I was measuring each ounce of it.

There has only been one time in my adult life, since the passport weigh-in that I have been asked to stand on a scale and have my weight recorded. That was when I joined a gym. I again explained to the trainer that I do not want to know how much I weigh, and that if he really needed to record it, the he could, but to please not tell me the number. He did not accept this as gracefully as my father did ten years earlier, however in the end we agreed that I was not there to lose weight, but instead, to be a little more active and fit, and he chose to leave that section of my form blank. If he had a good laugh about my weight thing with his fellow trainers, I don’t really care. I refuse to allow that number, whatever it maybe, to influence my opinions of my own body.