I see my daughter do it just as she's watched me do it so many times. She taps the digital bathroom scale with her 4-year-old toes, waiting for the numbers to light up and hit zero; she knows stepping on too soon will result in an error. Then she steps up, looks at the numbers, and asks, "How much do I weigh, mommy?"
I read the number to her and tell her it's the perfect amount for her age. Then I try to distract her while I do the same without letting her see the tension or joy on my face when my number appears.
Some would say this isn't healthy, damaging even. Model Isla Fisher recently told Fitness magazine that she doesn't even own a scale, and that she doesn't ever want her two daughters, Olive, 5 1/2, and Elula, 2 1/2, to see her weighing herself. "I don't think it sends the right message."
I have often wondered what messages my daily ritual of weighing myself sends to my daughter. I hope it's one that says managing our weight is managing our health. We check our blood pressure with no worries about scarring our kids for life, so a scale shouldn't be any different? Oh it can be, I know, but I don't believe it has to be.
To me it says that maintaining a healthy body is a priority for me, and that it's something I work at. Because the truth is that if I don't make it a priority, it creeps up and up. The scale keeps me accountable, and I don't think that has to be a taboo. I try never to use the 'f' word, but fat is real, and it's something we should fight. Of course there are extremes, and I worry about eating disorders just like any other mother of a daughter, but it don't think scales are the problem.
At just 4 years old, I hope that my daughter doesn't have to worry about her weight for many years to come. I hope that with healthy eating and exercising (which she sees me embrace as well), she's able to stay fit and healthy, but it's not always easy, as we see by the obesity epidemic in this country. Some are blessed genetically, but most of us do have to make a daily effort to be fit. To pretend that we don't or to cover it up when we do helps no one.
I don't want her or my son to be obsessed with their weight by any means, but I do want them to be conscious of it as part of their overall health, and a scale is one way to monitor that. No, the numbers don't tell you everything about someone's health, but they definitely provide some insight and accountability.
Is my relationship with the scale always healthy? No, probably not, but it has helped me keep my weight at a healthy level for years, and it's not something I plan to give up anytime soon.
Do you weight yourself in front of your kids? Do you think it sends the wrong message?
Image via minitrue/Flickr