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I haven’t weighed myself on a scale in six years and here’s why: It doesn’t matter.

Trigger Warning: This piece will discuss topics of body image, eating disorders, and body dysphoria. Please read at your discretion. <3

Self-love and honouring one’s body and soul are crucial to living a happy life. I found that we need to unsubscribe to toxic media standards. In honour of the “Big Sister Talks” theme week and after International Women’s Day 2022, let’s talk about body image and how toxic the media’s unrealistic beauty standards can be for women and girls alike. Studies have shown that while eating disorders and body image problems do not discriminate between any gender and affect anyone at any age, women and girls are still disproportionately affected. The successes or praises of women are still primarily correlated to their appearance. It is so common for women in any industry to be picked at for “aging” and aging out of success once they no longer fit the ideal image society wants from them.

I used to be obsessed with the scale in my early years of high school, in grades 8 and 9. When many young people start paying more attention to their self-image during puberty, I certainly had my issues too. I wanted to be super skinny and dreaded the idea of gaining weight. I was also heavily involved with all-star cheerleading, where there is an emphasis on the body. I started paying attention to all of my teammate’s appearances, and I didn’t understand back then that that behaviour was unhealthy. It is an inaccurate self-judgement since how one looks does not equate to a certain number on the scale. Everyone’s body is built differently. Two people can weigh the exact number but look completely different. We are all worth so much more than a number.

What is more important is if one is healthy and in a healthy weight range for THEM. If someone eats healthily, exercises regularly feels confident about themselves, and is surrounded by positivity, that is far more important than a number on a scale. When I was in all-star cheer, those were some of the best years, not just because of the victories but also the valuable life lessons within our sisterhood. Sometimes I would have talks with coaches or teammates about these topics right here, how common eating disorders are in our sport and how we can learn to see ourselves beyond our outsides and limit harmful media consumption. Joining cheer coincidently during my teenage years has empowered me tremendously. I loved my teammates and coach, who felt like a second mom. I am so grateful for having done so, and because of my experiences, I encourage everyone to find their niche where they CAN talk about deep things. Whether that’s a club, sport, organization, or just within your family or friends, being surrounded by positivity is so good for our mental health and fights off the stigma of things hurting us. Family and sisterhood, in particular, do not have to be blood.

Hence, that its why I chose to stop weighing myself afterwards. It’s just not that important anymore to be thinking about my weight. I exercise regularly, eat healthily, and am fit and strong, which matters. There will be times when we might need to weigh ourselves, so it’s not a punishment per se, but for actively and intentionally considering myself only to go down a self-sabotaging hole then later has stopped. When I grow up and have my own house and kids one day, I do not want us owning a bathroom scale. I feel like no one should, or if so, only use it when necessary. A number is not a reflection of our inherent worth, and ditching it is worth it for our happiness.

Ladies, it’s time we stop subscribing to any societal standards. We are not defined by our body, weight, skills, social status, relationship status, marriage status, whether or not we have kids, how much money we make, et al. I am still learning and remembering when times get tough. It’s okay that I have not yet reached my big goals of being great and famous and living and working in New York City. It’s tough and rare to be super successful at a young age. Sure, I think of some public figures on top of my head, like Greta Thunberg and Olivia Rodrigo. Olivia’s career took off at seventeen years old with her debut album “SOUR” that reached number one in the world. That same year, she met up with President Joe Biden and VP Kamala Harris at the White House to spread a message to young people about getting vaccinated and ended 2021 with seven Grammy nominations. All of this is so incredibly impressive for a teenager, and it motivated me to want to work super hard too. However, her success is also due to how she has been working in her entertainment field since she was a child, unlike most children attending school from grades K-12 and going off to college/university. Plus, so many people compare themselves to pop stars and exceptional CEOs at 16 even if that is not the career they are pursuing themselves (as majority cannot become pop stars or trailblazers at a young age), so it’s important to strike a balance in the ways in which we compare ourselves. I also try to remember that everyone is on their timeline. Time feels like it is passing quickly in the pandemic, so I remind myself that realistically, I am not much older than high schoolers. I am young and have time. I was eighteen when the pandemic started, not too long ago. I am now twenty, and ever since I turned twenty I was afraid of getting older which is not right. I remind myself that as much as I joke about how twenty is halfway to forty, forty is a long way and I need to take things day by day. I can obsess over age as long as I want, or I can get to work and obtain the life I want. The latter is much more preferable.

At first, I felt a bit of sadness knowing she is two years younger than me, even though I haven’t even met her yet, understand what her life is like in reality (another thing about social media portraying only the good sides of people and the tendency to judge what a stranger is like based on their online profile). She is a child succeeding and more affluent than many grown adults already. However, that is okay that I have not done something as cool as that yet. I have learned to appreciate her and be a woman supporting another woman instead of beating myself up with jealousy. Instead of just looking at her accomplishments emphasized on her social media by her marketing and publicity team, I have learned to read into her song lyrics. She writes personal narratives about teenage angst that I and many of Gen Z can relate to. She had felt every hard feeling I felt when I was in high school, with friends, parents, teachers, and society. Understanding this put me on the same level as her. In another life, we could very well be BFFs.We are both equal. We are all equal as human beings and as women. Not only that, but it is beautiful seeing a fellow Asian-American thriving in Western entertainment, so culturally relating to someone so successful is incredible! After all, International Women’s Day is about empowering ALL women from different backgrounds and upbringings. Plus, Olivia loves Taylor Swift as much as I do (recall when Taylor reposted her stories on social media when she peaked number one on Apple Music and called her her “baby”!). She has always seen Taylor as her biggest female inspiration, just like me, even though we are worlds apart, showing how we are not too different at the end of the day. We all need role models in life.

As for Greta, I learn to take inspiration from her and how she sparked my passion for social justice and me winning the social justice subject award at the end of grade twelve. Successful people still need other successful people to look up to. That is also why I dream of moving to the states like New York City, where there are such open opportunities for young people to become very successful, so my life is actually in my control! Comparison is the thief of joy, and we do not need too much of that.

Plus, not every woman wants to become super successful with big dreams like me. Some people just want a house, kids, and dog, and that’s okay too! Respect everyone’s dreams no matter how big or small they are. I have learned to keep my passion in check in the sense of not letting it hurt others who do not relate to wanting to be big and influential like Olivia and Taylor one day.

It is also alright that I am not dating anyone yet, and some of my best friends are because I will focus on my big career goals first. I know myself well because I struggle with anxiety and am not ready to let someone in on that level yet. I am still learning to trust people and love living on my terms. I also have so many ambitions I want to pursue first. Once I overcome my anxiety and accomplish my dreamy goals, I will find others who match my level and are on the same wavelength as me. Carry excitement in my day-to-day life, even if I’m not on a break with no life stressors. I am actively working for confidence and optimism. Also, I have to calm down the voices in my head that say “I can’t” sometimes. It also never hurts to seek more professional support like therapy and counselling. Talking to someone can go places. We are so young and have our whole lives ahead of us. Even if you’re older and reading this, it’s never too late to dream a dream, or to date, marry, and have kids at a later age, or not date, marry, and have kids at all by choice!

I have once talked to family friend’s my parents’ age who are single without kids but how they are content, whole, and complete with who they are. The conversations changed my perspective of what constitutes happiness and how oppressive social media can be. Age is just a number, and I sure as heck still feel like I’m in high school sometimes (which was only a few years ago),! Self-worth and self-confidence are so intrinsic. External factors can boost how we feel about ourselves, but the outside noise is not sustainable at the end of the day. What is sustainable is knowing our inherent worth despite it all because we know ourselves better than anyone else. And hey, as someone who loves irony, the irony of doing all that is that we end up attracting more good people and things in our life, BECAUSE of how attractive confidence and dancing like no one is watching are.

I also find looking for positive female role models very helpful in how I feel. As the world knows, I am in love with Taylor Swift and am grateful to have grown up with her since I was little. Honestly, who doesn’t know Taylor Swift? Being twelve years younger than her, she’s always felt like a big sister. She is definitely not perfect though. In her 2020 Netflix “Miss Americana” documentary, she opened up about overcoming her eating disorder in her mid-20s. This struggle was while she was simultaneously selling millions of records, making millions of dollars on her ‘1989 World Tour’, and peaking in her career as she established herself as a global superstar. I see myself in Taylor so many ways that we are both caring and sensitive people who love to write. Similar to what I just wrote about not letting age define us, she is a perfect example of someone who has never let her age dictate her success, as fifteen years later in her career, she is still killing it. From a teenage rockstar to now a grown woman in her thirties who is arguably at the peak of her career now, she never let the noise drag her down. Ladies, we all must do that too. Never let a number make us doubt ourselves.


Along with always listening to her gorgeous music as she is literally “The Music Industry,” I always love reading her writing posts on Tumblr, Instagram, and Facebook and her sweet interactions with fans. Hence, she is a big part of why I chose to continue writing and pursue that field with the New York Times. The other relates to the desire to be a high-achiever in all aspects, which can sometimes be unrealistic. Thriving in our field, having tons of friends, showing off on social media (which I have stopped doing so much as detailed in my last article), and wanting to be pretty and have the perfect body without realizing that we already are enough. Butterflies can’t see their wings, and if I, as such a big Swiftie, can see every perfect thing about Taylor, think she’s SO beautiful inside and out, then what if people in my life see greatness in my doubt? Women are so unique and resilient. I am so proud to be one and look up to successful women, and for all women-identifying readers, I hope you feel the same way. And hey Taylor, if you ever end up reading this, I love you for all the years you have inspired me!! You are literally my mom and I adore you. Let’s all support each other and uplift one another forever. We are all beautiful no matter our body image, accomplishments, relationship/marital status, race, and any other factor that society manipulates to try to tear us down.

You are all worthy, queens and girl-bosses!! Never let anyone or anything question your worth. You are so loved, and if things get hard, don’t be afraid to reach out. I am also here to listen to your story (you can click my HC contact links and I will be happy to chat anytime!) Get up, stand up, turn off that phone, go outside, smell the roses, and hug the people in your life tighter, because you only have one life. Live it: Chin up or the crown slips.

Love,
Grace

Grace Chen

Queen's U '23

Hi everyone my name is Grace and I'm an undergraduate student at Queen's University who aspires to write and move to New York City later for my career! Writing is such an amazing outlet and I'm always open to hearing your story so if willing to connect reach out to @thisisthestateofgracechen or @sear.chingforthelight on instagram!
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