I have a theory about why more girls/women don’t go into the sciences and math. Because we have been taught from birth that numbers are scary. Especially big numbers. More numbers. We learn that they have endless power over us.
Who would want to build a career, a future, around something so terrifying?!
Now my theory has no scientific backing. I have done no research. I have no statistics to wring through various formulas to find concrete evidence. But through anecdotal evidence, I have concluded that a lot of us of with vaginas find numbers horrifying.
I learned early on that numbers were scary from the scale. It was a frightening creature residing under my mom’s dresser in the room we were never to enter. The ivory colored beast lurked there, waiting for the inevitable weigh-in. That’s how I learned that it was all-powerful. God forbid I should register a number higher than any previous time upon the beast. There would be harsh words. Threats of not eating. Threats of no treats.
I drank it all in. I believed what The Tyrant of Weight (aka the scale) told my mother. I was worthless. I was a pile of numbers–and big numbers at that. Which meant I was bad. Every tick of the spinning number plate and I sunk further and further into myself.
If only I could be smaller. If only I could weigh less. Because everyone knows that less is better.
It never occurred to me that my mother was in charge of my nutrition. She was the keeper of the food. She was the doler of the treats. Until I started babysitting and had my own money, I wasn’t in control.
I couldn’t even escape The Tyrant of Weight at school. Every year in middle school, the scale was brought into the classroom so we could be weighed. We’d line up. We’d be quiet in line except to whisper with our friends. Then it would be my turn.
I remember the year my best friend announced after my weighing: “Did you see how disgusted she was with your weight?”
Good God, now I was disgusting everyone! Not only my mother! Worthless. Horrible. Bad. Bringer of the big numbers.
If only the The Tyrant of Weight was the only hurdle to get passed. Unfortunately, there was The Size Monster.
Somewhere secret and well-hidden, but known by my mother, there was an acceptable size council. Maybe she got newsletters. Maybe they had a secret monthly meeting. There all acceptable sizes were revealed.
And I never was an acceptable size. No one told me then about how clothing sizes can vary by manufacturer/designer/cutter/fabric placement. All I know is I never wore the right size. Whispered accusations at the dressing room door. Looks of revulsion. The word “phooey” spat as she looked at my body with disgust.
Scale numbers. Clothing sizes. Of course, smaller numbers are better! That’s how I know whether I am a worthy person or not.
I’m not the only one. There are other women like me out there. We are the ones who flinch at the scale at the doctor’s office. We are the ones who dread turning the tag over on the cute top. We are the ones who have been beaten with the message that we are the wrong number. Fat. Skinny. Tall. Short. None of us ever measure up…or is it measure down?
But there is hope. We are so much more than a number. That’s what Health At Every Size is all about. A number is simply a measurement. It has no value on its own. It is a thing. Just like a scale is just a thing. Just like a clothing size is just a thing.
We are more than a number…