I want to begin by introducing you to my ex best friend, the scale. During my struggle with an eating disorder, the feeling of being alone was masked by my new companion, someone who would never lie to me—or so I thought. I spent morning, noon, and night checking in with my best friend. If anyone was going to reassure me and tell me I was doing a “good job,” it was my scale.
I loved the thrill of having a hidden scale in my room that I could look to every time my eating disorder needed to. Looking back, I can see that this so called best friend was the fuel to my fire and the gas to my engine. I looked to it for comfort and couldn’t go a day without it; it was an obsession and an addiction.
My relationship with the scale was what one would call a love-hate relationship. One minute I would be overcome with joy when I saw the number drop and the next I would be looking in the mirror and see a completely different person. Why was my best friend making me see someone I am not?
I’d never had a friend so powerful that could make my reflection change within a few hours, so how could I ever let this friend go? This was a friend that would determine how I saw myself in the mirror each and every day, a friend who allowed me to feel confident in what I would wear to school that day, or not. When a few hours went by without the scale, I would become aware of what I really looked like, and I couldn’t let that happen. How could I know what I looked like without my friend letting me know first?
My friend stuck with me through treatment. I was force-read my weight once a week, leading to a step in this relationship that was unexpected. I soon went from wanting to see my best friend every second of every day, to dreading the day I would have to go face to face with it.
The more I was told what I didn’t want to hear, the more I learned what fake friendship was—a fake friendship I so falsely worshiped in my life for so long. The scale did not let me see the truth, it actually did the opposite. The number on the scale determined how I viewed myself for an entire day, determined how I fueled my body, and determined how I acted towards everyone else around me. Was I really going to continue letting a simple number determine how beautiful I felt?
I’m sure that most of you reading this have seen that photo of multiple girls of all different shapes and sizes standing next to each other who all weigh the same? Think of that photo when I tell you this: the number on the scale sits on everybody’s body differently, but this does not make one person better than the other. My so called “best friend” was telling millions of people the exact same thing it would tell me, and yet every single one of them looked completely different than I did. Why then, would I look in the mirror and see myself morph into every single one of them?
How was my friend so strong that it could persuade me to see multiple different people depending on a simple number? This is when I knew that this toxic friendship had to end. I gave my scale the boot and decided to put it where it belonged, in the trash with the lies it would tell me.
Although the number may have been accurate, the image staring back at me never was. It was almost impossible to see my true beauty when a certain combination of digits would stare so fiercely back at me. Who wants to be friends with someone who doesn’t allow you to see yourself as you are?
A friend is someone who builds you up, not someone who tears you down. Though eating disorders have no one cause, the scale helped fuel my eating disorder in the cruelest way possible. If the number dropped, I would be fueled; if the number increased, I would be fueled. This was toxic. The power of the number needed to be destroyed and I needed to get rid of it in order to learn that a number is just that, a number. It does not determine my worth; it does not determine anyone’s worth for that matter.
A number on a scale does not make one person better than the other and it certainly doesn’t mean someone is going to look a certain way. I’ve never really been one to love math anyway, let alone numbers, so finally letting go of the scale was a step in my recovery and my life that I will never regret. I haven’t seen this ex best friend in over three years and now I am confident that the image I see in the mirror is who I really am: FREE.
Alex Kroudis is a junior Psychology major at Sacred Heart university in Connecticut. She has a passion for learning about eating disorders, writing, running, and singing. She is involved in a sorority on her campus and writes articles for The Odyssey Online. Alex also loves traveling and is 100% Greek, hoping to move to Europe at some point in her life. Alex was born and raised in New Jersey with her younger brother and two parents, both born in Greece.