Scales are scary things. They cut through the crap to a certain sort of quantifiable reality/unreality. What woman hasn't dreaded stepping on the scale? What woman hasn't allowed a seemly innocuous, seemingly accurate number, color her day? To shame her?
Arbitrary and cruel.
While health issues are real and somewhat quantifiable, they are not absolute. They are relative to each organism and irrelevant to the worth of the person.
I submit to this gizmo, with its touted accuracy and digital memory, and its tyranny. I embrace its hold on me. I am not yet ready to give it up. But, I will not, for all its tyranny, allow it to dictate my day, my moment or my week.
Like my six year old self, I will become proud of my body again. These are proud numbers.
I will let the scale draw a trajectory, chip away at any imposed sense of shame, and contribute to an artwork.
Enough has never been my default setting.
In all areas of my life I consume beyond need: Food, drink, things, information.
And I produce, boy do I produce. I am loathsomely uncomfortable in relaxation mode. Without a goal, a project
or a deadline I become anxious.
Our culture drives and rewards the consumers and producers. Or is it the other way around? Since you produce you may reward yourself with consuming? Is this the story I have been fed since birth?
Like many artists, I am obsessed with my work. It doesn't feel like a burden. Being able to spend long hours in the studio is a gift, a joy. It brings me great pleasure.
But where is my on/off switch? Certainly I was born with one. I misplaced it somewhere in the all consuming, not enoughness.
Tomorrow is my day of rest. My Sabbath. At 6 o'clock tonight I will enter into a 24 hour period of rest and, yes, anxiety. I will embrace the anxiety without excess wine or food and emerge stronger.
I am SO a creature of this capitalist economy. It began with the Sears catalog, I suspect, and ramped up when my family got television and ramped up more as television ramped up. Oh, the delicious ads for Welchade and Honeymaid graham crackers. And the prizes in the cereal boxes: Parachuting soldiers, plastic rockets, lucky coins. The excitement always passed as the cheap trinket hit the hand with a thud of reality.
The food ads affect me less these days and I don't buy much cereal, much less dump it out on the counter to find the toy. I do not want a Lexus, nor diamonds, for Christmas. I'm not tempted by weight loss drugs.
But gadgets! A phalanx of pedometers have marched through my life. Most did not work on my squat , short striding, soft stepping body. I would walk 10 steps and get credited for 2. Others simply fell off my body or slipped behind the toilet, never to be seen again.
The Active Link, sold by Weight Watchers was the first one that worked at all. It is accurate a lot of the time. If I walk enough the lights flash in a most pleasing way. I even look forward to it! Gold stars for adults. Emerald green christmas lights.
But today, the Fitbit arrived. A sleek and lovely gadget that will count steps and evaluate my sleep. A small computer on my wrist. My engineer father would so have loved it.
While I do not fall for the most egregious claims of the most sketchy products...I seem to succumb to the magical thinking that if I have the most special gadget-pill-weight loss program- dress life will be perfect.
The corporations can monetize wishes and magic, and resistance is futile.
I don't know if I have this all worked out yet, as though one could.
I don't know if I am ready to go public.
It feels like a failure.
It feels like taking control.
FAITH IN THE ASSISTANCE OF THINGS:the weight loss edition
This is a year long/lifelong project. I have been involved in this project since I was a young child. When I was six years old, they weighed all of us at school. Perhaps it was to learn units of measurement. I don't know. I was one of the heaviest. I was PROUD, because BIG meant grown-up to me.
When did that pride in my body change? I don't really know.
So this project is very personal to me. My personal outcomes will affect my health and my ability to produce art for the rest of my life. That is BIG.
Why should you care?
While achieving my personal goals, in a very public manner, I plan to investigate:
I plan to track all sorts of measurements and behaviors. I suppose this is a form of body art, of body shaping. But I expect it to be socially/politically engaged as well. I will use social media to develop community and at least once a month I will produce a physical piece of art in reference to this project.
Contextually, this project is a direct outgrowth of the WEARING MY AGE PROJECT, which focused on women and power in the workplace. I will be focusing on the cultural control of women surrounding issues of weight. In the 1970's we asserted that "Fat is a feminist issue." It still is.
What is your role in this? Perhaps support. Perhaps sharing your stories. Perhaps sending me articles and book titles.
And so, I begin.