Taking The Measure Of A Woman

It’s been about the numbers for as long as I can remember. My worth as a child was measured by my grades (a “B” was cause for embarrassment), and my size. I was overweight as a girl, just plump really, but it was shameful and painful to be called “Fatty Patti.”

I developed anorexia at age 14 and became quite sick. But I had such crazy, fleeting joy to weigh less than 100 pounds, and no one called me chubby anymore. I got better from anorexia and have been healthy-slim most of my life. But at age 61 I still have not escaped the tyranny of numbers.

When I meet women who say “oh my weight goes up and down, and I don’t mind,” I am still amazed and want to plumb their psyches – how do you do that? I still measure the hits on my blog, Facebook, and other sites, always looking for an increase. What would be so tragic about a decrease?

So I still battle with numbers – our financial investments, my age, blog stats, clothing sizes (not so much there anymore since I buy mostly secondhand), hurricane possibilities. As a trained shrink, I know it all has its roots in anxiety – and counting the numbers gives one an illusion of control.

One of my grad school professors – my beloved Dr. Dye – once commented on a paper I’d composed: “How would it feel to let go of all that control?” I remember welling up with tears at his recognition of my core anxiety.

With this as my history, I was revolted and horrified by a U.S. presidential candidate’s comments about women and their size. He has called women “pigs” and “Miss Piggy” because of their weight. I am angry and despairing that this kind of language comes out of a grown man who wants to be a leader. How do women/girls feel about being called “fat names”? I can tell you, we feel self-loathing, especially when we are twelve years old. Shame on a man – or woman – who has demeaned women in this way.

In light of the last paragraph, I may lose some followers – people who support this candidate may ban me from their computers. This will be a good exercise for me in accepting what numbers are. They aren’t everything that’s good and important and truthful. They measure things, but not all the important things.

Have a full and fabulous day, and don’t let any “performance” numbers steal your joy. We are good enough, smart enough, beautiful enough for any day.

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  1. Thank you for sharing, Patti. My numbers thing has nothing to do with weight, it’s to do with the time I got a “B” (89%) in one of my Grade 6 school term reports (Whenever I got an ‘A” I got a book and this time I didn’t get a book and from that experience, I had FAILED, and it had a profound effect on my whole life and I became a “numbers girl” too). I used to count things obsessively also but have come through all that knowing that I am more than worthwhile – in fact, amazingly fabulous – and I send love to any other “numbers people”. You are also amazingly fabulous. xx (By the way, this comment has not been easy to post publicly but I hope it may help someone else.) xx

  2. Dear Patti, if you had revealed you were supporting Trump, I would have had to “unfollow” you! I was very thin as a child and young adult and was asked more than once if I was anorexic (and this from people who I didn’t even know). I was mortified, as I have always loved my food.

    I try not to pay too much attention to my blog, FB or IG numbers, especially now that I don’t post on my blog regularly, but I won’t deny that when the numbers go up, it makes me do a little “Yay” inside. But we ARE so much more than our numbers.

  3. Shaming employees who don’t meet their performance standards isn’t my idea of how to run an organization. Shame isn’t an emotion that brings out the best in people, it leads them to hide what they think will be ridiculed. As a “shareholder” in the organization that’s considering this leader I think it’s a sign that this person would be a poor leader.

    A beauty queen may well enter into a contract where maintaining her weight at an appointed level is a stipulation. There isn’t any getting around that. Being subject to shame is ridicule shouldn’t be part of the deal.

  4. Thanks for your comments on these subjects. I was a little chubby as an adolescent and my family called me Baby Huey. They even bought me a stuffed Baby Huey, which I still have and display on a bookshelf in a spare bedroom. I survived that and am stronger than ever at 68. Your comments on the R presidential candidate are spot on and I will always visit your site and click through. Thanks for presenting your fashion sense and opinions.

  5. Patti, I appreciate your post. Politics aside, I cannot understand why a person would be so blatantly cruel to so many..other than they struggle with self esteem issues and putting other people down makes them feel better. I have always told my children to pray for the bullies because they are struggling with something awful. I also was drawn to your post as I struggle with numbers too. Now that I have hit 53 and am feeling a little flabby around the middle I have increased my diet and exercise habits to fight this trend. I too struggle with control and am not sure what would happen if I just let go. Is that even a possibility? Food for thought. Thank you for your blog and your thoughts.

  6. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. This candidate has already caused so much damage. He shows contempt and lack of respect for so many, marginalizing and making “other” so much of the population. I find it frightening and disheartening to see how far he has gotten and to imagine that he could be elected. A true leader–a good person–does not aim to diminish others.

  7. Funny,no one seemed to berate CNN when they basically said the same thing about the same person. Too many double standards in this worlld.

  8. I found your blog a couple of years ago and enjoy it, although I’ve never commented. Reading your thoughts today I had to let you know, “well said”! The fact that he’s a candidate for president is an embarrassment. Count me as one of your positive numbers.

  9. We’re a bit taken aback in the UK too at the strange shenanigans we’re seeing. But surely this is beyond politics, how one person thinks he has the right to judge and categorise half of humanity on such a flimsy, nonsensical basis? It sounds like amusing satire, but someone like that possibly having serious influence is not so funny.

  10. This is a great post! I can relate on almost every level. Except I went into blogging not caring about numbers (it’s fun to get followers and likes but I never expected to get tons of followers) and have made myself clear mostly through Twitter which is fed on my blog. I think Trump is the most dispicable human I’ve ever witnessed. It makes me sick to think anyone would share his values. Hopefully he won’t get voted into office and I’ll learn most people don’t share his hatred. For me it’s not a republican thing, it’s a Trump thing. Peace! Cheryl

  11. From down under, I look on with amazement at the circus I see you guys having to look and listen too on the screens! One candidate appears to actively alienate one half of your population! I was always skinny, but now well padded but I am alive 🙂 so no worries and am accepting of what will be will be. Sam the Aussie

  12. Cancelling my subscription because of political agenda. Have better venues with people far-more qualified offering objective opinions.

  13. I cannot believe the crap that The Donald spouts. He is a far cry from the well spoken and eloquent Obama.

    I used to worry more about my stats but have tried to force myself to not look anymore. It is depressing.

    Ditto for stepping on the scale. No thank-you-very-much. Numbers only rule us if we let them.


  14. I follow your blog because I enjoy your attitude on life. I really don’t care what you’re wearing but I like your style. Thank you for speaking out on an important issue.

    • You have spoken truth. That’s all that matters. I have had the same issues my whole life and I am 72. My dad’s and brother’s favorite nickname for me was “hippy”. It stills hurts. But, onward I go and hopefully you will too. I enjoy your blog:)

  15. Just to let you know that overly thin can also be very painful. My nickname in high school was “bones.” I had no eating disorder…I was just thin….I was self conscious….I had low self esteem. People now tell me I am “beautiful” (and I am 79 years old). I have come to know that other’s opinions do not define the person I have become. To blame others serves no purpose. Look within…not back! I was also blessed with a mother who made me feel so special.

  16. I hate Trump and have since he became “famous” in the 80s. He’s a disgusting pig himself.
    I’ve put on quite a bit of weight in the past few years. I console myself, while trying to slim back to my best size, by enjoying my new boobs – something I didn’t have when I was skinny. I’m kind of glad that today we have celebrated women of all sizes for young girls to look up to, not just the impossible supermodels I had growing up.

  17. Thank you so much for this, Patti, from a sister numbers-counter. Your post is kind, angry, accurate, yet full of compassion and heart….including compassion for your younger self. Another reason to love your site.

  18. Go, Patti! I loathe Trump and if anyone who supports him chooses to unfollow my blog then so be it. Life is too short to spend it in the company of bigots.
    My dear late mother never had any anxieties about her body image and naturally I followed suit. I’m sad some women do. x

  19. As someone with weight problems all of my life, I also cringe at the comments about weight. I spent many a night in my younger days crying over “fat” comments and taunts, angry at being judged not on my abilities or characters, but solely on my looks and my weight. I have lost over 100 lbs. in the past few years due to weight loss surgery undertaken because of debilitating health issues. And still, under government guidelines, I’m considered overweight. I’ve agonized over those last few pounds and obsessed over getting to the next size down, but have had to let it go and just enjoy being who I am. Thanks for such a thoughtful post. I love your blog, and look forward to reading new posts.

  20. Yeah Pattie! I’m with you in my distaste for the candidate mentioned. He just keep going on and on and on. It scares me to death that he has a chance to sit in the white house. Thanks for voicing what I think so many women are thinking. Go Girl !

  21. Good on you! It’s not just about how we look or what we wear, it’s what’s between our ears that’s most important. Sadly, the “weight thing” is still an area of great vulnerability for women. If these sorts of comments were about women’s intelligence or responsibility, for instance, no one would give them a second thought. I’ll continue to read you because of this post.

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