Monday, April 14, 2014

When Numbers Define Us.

(photo source Chrisoph on Flickr via Creative Commons license)

Last year I had a startling revelation.  In the course of one week, I had casual conversations with seven different women and noticed that every single one of them mentioned wanting to lose weight.

It made me a bit sick.

This wasn't a unique week and those women weren't unique either.  These are the same words I have heard my entire life from all different women.  And they are the same words I have said many times.  I had simply started paying attention.

This is the narrative we know as women, isn't it?  If we follow the social script, we should always be talking about how we are trying to lose weight.

But I am tired of this narrative and I'm throwing away that script.

I am disgusted because we are doing this to ourselves and we are doing it to our children.  Our daughters are learning the patterns that they will repeat: to despise their bodies and focus on their numbers instead of their strengths.  Our sons are learning that women's bodies should always be smaller.  Smaller, smaller, and smaller.  They are learning that women should take up as little space as possible.  This is dangerous for all of us.

When we live focused on losing weight, we have already lost.

I want to make better lifestyle choices because of what I gain, not because of what I want to lose.

I want to make better food choices because it makes me feel better.  Because my body function best when it has the proper fuel.  And I want to exercise so that I will be stronger and more agile.

Instead of trying to shrink the number on the scale, I can focus on gaining energy and strength and a clear mind.

Is it just the number on the scale, though?  Or do I let other numbers define me?

Last week I watched several popular bloggers engage in a Twitter conversation.  They were discussing ways to get more followers and being more effective bloggers.

I was shocked.  Truly.

In my mind, these ladies had all "arrived."  They have written books and spoken at conferences.  They have had large companies as sponsors.  They have thousands of followers.  Their platforms are the type that no-name bloggers that me can only dream of.  And yet...they were all still looking for more readers and ways to be better bloggers.

I don't blame them for wanting more readers.  This is the truth of social media: It is all about the numbers.

As much as writers hate it, our platform matters.  It is all a game of how many followers and likes and page views and retweets we can get.

But when numbers are king, no one wins.

There is never a correct number.  Never, ever, ever.  You will always want more (or less).  You will always be focused on the next number.

I, too, fall into this trap and play this game.  But I know this to be supremely true: Humans cannot be quantified.

My worth has no correlation to the number on the scale or the number inside my waistband.  My value is not measured by the number of comments and page views I receive.

And so, my friends and my sisters, can we please stop with this game of numbers?  Can we rewrite the social scripts for our children?  Can we live in the freedom that numbers don't matter in life?


  1. Beautiful post! It seems that we as a society are hardly ever happy with what we have and always want more, which can be good at times but it can also be debilitating and destructive. It's hard to find that balance but that is part of the struggle of life.

  2. I have been thinking about this a lot lately, numbers in general, as it pertains to writing in particular. I agree with you!

  3. Just checked this out after you linked it on the @beauty_redefined Instagram, and this post is wonderful! Perfectly well-stated. Letting go of the power those numbers have over us is incredibly liberating! It frees us to focus on actual health and living life, rather than chasing arbitrary measurements. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Yes! Isn't it frustrating that writing tends to be all about the numbers? I understand that the numbers can be important indicators, but when you're writing for the stats, it doesn't usually mean that you are writing happily. (my experience, perhaps not everyones)

  5. Definitely agree with you! Balance is something I'm always striving for, but sometimes it seems elusive.


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