I didn’t set out to be a liar, mind you. I became one through a combination of ignorance and bureaucracy. And yet, I have lied.
I lied to the state of California on my ID card. No, it’s not a drivers’ license. I don’t drive. I inherited my grandmother’s sense of direction and my mother’s night vision, which is to say I have neither at all. Beyond that, I have a tendency to panic when confused and an insurmountable habit of woolgathering. Putting me behind the wheel of a car is what is known in the business as a Bad Idea.
And yet I do need picture identification for a variety of reasons. So it was that I trotted down to spend a day waiting in line at the DMV.
Of course the thing one spends the second greatest amount of time doing at the DMV is filling out forms, so I had to do that as well. In addition to name, address, etc., the state of California expects you to tell them how tall you are and what you weigh. This was actually about a year and a half ago when I had to get my updated ID card, and I had not been on a set of scales in at least three years. Further, I had not been informed of what the scales said for several years prior to that. I knew how tall I was, but I really had no objective idea what I weighed.
Well, I’d lost weight since the last ID card had been issued, so I figured I’d put my weight down as some twenty-five pounds less than I had said the previous time. Said previous time, I had listed my weight at 200 pounds. I really didn’t know at the time whether or not this was in any way accurate. Mostly I knew I was fat and that sounded like a lot of weight to carry on a 5’2″ frame, so it seemed a reasonable ballpark guesstimate. Having lost some poundage, I figured I’d say I weighed 175 this time.
A couple months ago, as some of you may recall, I had to go to a doctor about a cold that had hung on way too long. At that appointment, I was weighed.
Imagine my surprise to realize I’d been lying about my weight on my ID card to the tune of some 62 pounds!
In practical terms, this makes no difference in my life. I fit in the same places, and fail to fit in the places I didn’t fit before. I am the same level of health, have the same interests, follow the same routine, hold the same job, and know the same people. Most of the time, it doesn’t make a difference mentally, either. I’m more concerned with my general feeling of well-being than meeting an arbitrary goal for the comfort of society. Finding out what I actually weighed was met with a mere ‘huh’ rather than concern or pride or any significant emotion. I still feel more pity than excitement for the girl in one of the weight loss product ads who proclaims that she was terrified before she found this miracle product that she was doomed to be fat forever. I am still fat. I am precisely as fat as I was. My life is still worth living.
But one thing does kind of bother me. I lied. Unwittingly, yes, but still. That niggles. I like to be accurate.
It also reinforces an important point: most of us have no clue what different weights look like. A quick glance at Kate Harding’s fabulous BMI Project tells us that we cannot always spot ‘overweight’ or ‘normal’ or ‘obese.’ We don’t know at a glance whether a person has a higher than average ratio of muscle to fat, we don’t always account for how a person’s shape affects how we perceive his/her weight. We don’t stop and think very often about how different 200 pounds might look on a 5′ body as opposed to a 6′ body.
On the other hand, it reinforces another more positive point in my mind: it’s not the number on the scales that matters, but how you choose to approach life.
At long last, I believe I am at peace with my dishonest past. Why? Because that one number doesn’t say a damn thing about what I can or cannot do with my future.