More Than Just a Number

I'm so excited to feature one of my sweetest friends on Bay State to Broad today! 

Jayne grew up just outside of Chicago. I grew up just outside of Boston.

Jayne transferred schools after her freshman year to The College of Charleston. I transferred schools after my freshman year to The University of South Carolina.

Jayne and I both decided to study abroad in Florence, Italy. We were paired in an apartment together more than 4,000 miles from home.

After college, Jayne and I went in opposite directions. I went back to Massachusetts, while she made a cross-country journey to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. 

Five years later, Jayne and I live just a few miles down the road from each other in charming Charleston, South Carolina.

Week three of friendship! Wine tasting excursion through the hills of Tuscany. (Hashtag babies.)

Week three of friendship! Wine tasting excursion through the hills of Tuscany. (Hashtag babies.)

Jayne blogs over at Recovery Love and Care, a blog, website, and brand that helps those with Eating Disorders and their loved ones move through the journey of self-care, self-love, and recovery. She is working towards obtaining her graduate degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, and is planning on becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor.

While you may not think our blogs have much in common, she got me thinking about the idea of our lives being "more than just a number." In the case of Eating Disorder recovery, this concept often equates back to weight, size, and body image. But numbers sneak their way into nearly every aspect of our lives, and we often think of them as defining factors of success, happiness, and worth.

Clothing size
Instagram likes
Social media followers
Bra size
Salary
Weight
How many people you've slept with
Age
GPA

Society – one that is edited, filtered, and oftentimes seen through a lens – uses the above numbers in an attempt to indicate our worth or to paint a surreal picture of "perfection" we feel obligated to strive for. How many times have you joked with your friends about deleting an Instagram photo if it didn't receive enough likes? Or maybe you've let your salary, weight, or age – all very different things, mind you – define you . I know I have, probably more times than I can actually count.

Jayne is here to remind me that my self-worth, beauty, strength, and overall awesomeness is not defined by a number.

More Than a Number

Guest post by Jayne from Recovery Love and Care 

Within the body positive world, it is often said that happiness is beyond the scale. This concept is incredibly difficult, if not, at times impossible to grasp for those deep within an eating disorder. An entire book could be written just on this concept; therefore in this short post, I will touch upon this myth within the numbers.

How many times have you thought/said/heard these statements?
"If only I were smaller"
"I wish I was two sizes smaller, then I would be happy"
"If I could get to ____ weight, my life would be perfect"
"The only thing that I don't have under control is my weight and size"
"I would kill for that body"
"I wish my boobs were bigger"
"If I had those hips I would rule the world"

Our society places so much importance on numbers, in that our clothing sizes and number on the scale determines success and worth – but do they? Does that number on the scale, bra size, pant size, or dress size actually determine success and happiness? The answer is 100% no. Happiness is not determine by a number, it is not determined by a piece of clothing, or a side-by-side before and after photo. Happiness is from the core. Happiness is managed by feelings, emotions, expectations, and our external and internal world.

In addition to the common misconception that a certain size or weight brings about happiness, there is also an assumption that numbers should bring about shame. We hide or dress sizes from our smaller friends; we lie about our weight when filling out our driver's license; we bring about self shame and self blame when we are of a weight or size that isn't "ideal" for ourselves or others.

These two assumptions – that numbers bring about happiness and that numbers are shameful – are rampant within our society. But there is nothing in a number but a number; this is the harsh and beautiful truth! A number will not bring about happiness in any individual – eating disorder or not – and it is not until we rid of the shame that we coincide with numbers that we will truly start to understand this concept. 

Two common misconceptions:

  1. The number on the scale and the number on the clothing tag will bring about happiness and success
  2. The number on the scale and the number on your clothing tag is shameful

Two counter arguments:

  1. The number on the scale and the number on your clothing tag is only a number. Just a number. Period. End. Done. These numbers do not bring about happiness and success.
  2. The number on the scale and the number on your clothing tag is nothing to be ashamed about, because it is a number.

Bringing awareness to these misconceptions surrounding weight and size is a major step towards finding body positivity, acceptance, self-love, and true happiness. Let's all try our best to rid of these misconceptions and replace self-blame, self-shame, and failure with realistic understandings towards numbers and the true origin of happiness.

Rachel Bergan