Post written by our amazing ambassador Beth!
You all remember it. The days of learning maths in school. First learning to count to 10, then 20, then 100 and above. Learning how to add, takeaway. Learning metrics and conversions. An innocent subject that you get told you'll use all of your life. As you grow from being an infant to a teenager and young adult, you continue to learn and use maths, again in completely innocent ways.
However, there seems to be a point in life, almost as if a switch has just being flipped, where numbers and the skills we learnt in maths aren't so innocent anymore. Instead of them being a tool to help us get along in our day to day lives, they become a thing in which we are controlled by and not in a good way. The innocence goes. How you may be wondering? Well, I'll just go into a few of the ways here.
When you reach a certain age, genuinely mid teens (although unfortunately in quite a few instances younger) the magazines you used to read and enjoy featuring colour by numbers and games suddenly change and become magazines full of headlines and articles such as "The 500 Calorie Diet!" and "Lose 7lbs In 1 Week!" The pages are full of celebrities giving their "What I Eat In A Day" diaries, telling you how many calories you need to eat and how many minutes of cardio you need to do in order to look like them. It doesn't matter whether your body works differently to them and if your body isn't naturally that shape, you must do this to be seen as looking "good".
"How to get to a size 8!" Another headline you'll see. It doesn't matter if you'll be underweight because of your height if you were a size 8, a size 8 is the desirable size to be! Erm. Not quite. But that's what they're attempting to put into our minds.
Not so innocent are numbers anymore aye?
Oh calorie counting. Gone are the days when you just ate what your mind and body wanted. As soon as you get past childhood, your penetrated with the idea that calorie counting is the way to a healthy life. It doesn't matter whether you want to lose weight or maintain, you must calorie count. The innocent TV averts of Nickelodeon are now gone as you change your viewing to more 'mature channels', channels that in the commercial breaks are screaming at you with adverts stating "NEW AND ONLY 99 CALORIES!" "BUY IT NOW WITH JUST 209 CALORIES A PACK!" That's it. All of a sudden. Calories matter. You go into the supermarkets and no longer buying Petits Filous in the yogurt isle, you head for the "grown up" yogurts and all over them written in bold are words such as "FAT FREE!", "LOW CALORIES!" Do you get the hint yet? You need to be counting calories. Suddenly, it seems you're not allowed to just enjoy food without knowing the calorie content. Is this why we learnt how to add?
(I'd just like to state that this is not bashing anyone who calorie counts. This is against companies and the media who try to push it on everyone day to day even if it isn't necessary. If it works for you and you're doing it for the right reasons then that's fantastic. However if you're doing it because you feel you have to because of adverts etc like mentioned above, and it's leading/has lead you to have an unhealthy relationship with food, then that's not good.)
The sad step. A.K.A. The scales. Another part of the transition of growing up seems to be that your no longer using a set of scales to weigh and measure ingredient for your favourite chocolate fudge cake. You're using a set of scales to weigh yourself. But not just weigh yourself. To judge your self worth. At what point do we think "I'm going to start weighing myself"?
"I've gained 2lbs in a day! Why! All I ate was..." then you go on with the rest of your day feeling like utter shit because you've 'gained' 2lbs, you feel like you need to do more exercise and only allow yourself a salad for the rest of the day all because of 2lbs. That little measurement you learnt about in year 6. That little measurement ruins your day! The reality is that you probably didn't take a dump that morning! (TMI but the truth).
Some weight loss companies hold weekly meetings where people to stand on the scales in front of each other and be praised if the number has gone down but if it's gone up, I'm sorry you have to pay for being weighed. You're being judged by a number! A number! It doesn't matter about anything. It's all about a number.
So that little subject you learnt in school appears to change into a tool of hate as we grow up. Unfortunately not much can be done in terms of the magazines and advertisements etc, but what we can do is be aware of it and hopefully prevent others from being controlled in any of the negative ways above and keep that innocent school subject just that.