Breaking the Cycle of the Scale
Posted August 31, 2011

In a previous post, Judy introduced the newest members of the Someday Melissa team and I am thrilled to be a part of this wonderful opportunity to share information and education about the film “Someday Melissa” and eating disorders. My name is Elizabeth Gough-Gordon and I am pursuing my doctorate in media studies at Rutgers, specializing in gender and the media. I have witnessed the pervasiveness of misinformation about eating disorders both on college campuses and in society. Stigmas about even discussing the topic of eating disorders linger in our culture, and I hope to help Someday Melissa in breaking down the walls for greater awareness and education. I am honored to be able to contribute to this platform for education and discussion supporting the core mission of Someday Melissa: to educate about the warning signs of eating disorders and encourage action towards helping others.

I was shopping in my local Target store earlier this week and paused when I reached the back-to- school section. I remember fondly when I purchased the essentials for my freshman dorm room before I started the first year of college. Towels, comforter, shower caddy…. and a scale? Seeing the large display of bathroom scales among the other so-called “dorm essentials” made me ponder our perception of the scale. Scales are certainly present in many homes, but what message does it send?

It’s no secret that our society is focused on numbers, as if those digits are the end-all representation of our self-worth. What was your grade point average in school? How much money do you make? How much do you weight? Our value cannot be determined by one single item, yet the scale is tied to body image and self-esteem for so many people and throughout our popular culture. In 1965, Mattel toys released Slumber Party Barbie, which included a scale set at 110 pounds. If Barbie is tied to a scale while supposedly having fun at a slumber party, it’s no wonder that the scale represents so many issues and conflicts with weight and body image.

How do we break this cycle? Sometimes it takes a brash physical action, like smashing a scale to incite a symbolic break towards positivity; this has led to the phenomenon of scale bashing, also known as scale smashing. At its simplest, it is causing destruction to an everyday scale used to weigh oneself. More than just causing harm to the device, it is also a promise to oneself towards freedom from judging self-worth based on what number appears on the scale.

Scale smashing is not a new phenomenon, but the Internet has provided a space for people to share their smashing in hopes of inspiring others to do the same. A search on YouTube for “scale smashing” and “scale bashing” found a variety of videos, from groups to individuals taking out their frustrations of the scale to stop the cycle of obsessing over numbers with body image.

The Internet is a great resource for sharing videos of scale smashing, but many groups have also arranged in-person events to bring individuals together for this cause. This summer, a scale bashing event was organized in New Jersey by Kylene Marie Roth, after learning that her therapist had led several similar events on the West Coast.

We’d love to hear your thoughts about this. Have you participated in a scale-bashing event or watched these types of videos? If not and you do own a scale, would you consider symbolically breaking the cycle through physical actions like these? Please leave a comment below!

~ Elizabeth

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