Warning: This post actually contains some quantitative and observational qualitative research. However, no one paid me. I’m kind of bummed about that…
I know it is cliché – talking about scales and weight and women…for the most part, we say the same thing – but too bad… I’m cliché today.
A few weeks ago I took my son to the zoo to see the new elephant exhibit. It was really excellent. WHY? Because baby elephants are ALWAYS excellent. The area has a dedicated gardens and ‘interactive’ learning area.
Side note: I hate the word “interactive” – it’s thoroughly overused. They should just have a big sign that says “Hey – there’s shit here you can touch” and leave it at that…but NO…we have to ramp it up and make everything seem like some sort of grandiose computerized experience…but anyway…that’s not the point (not that it ever stopped me from commenting)….
The point is that the exhibit had a HUGE ELEPHANT SCALE for people to just jump on for the fun of it. And the digital display for your weight was GINORMOUS – I’m surprised it didn’t have an audio component that announced to everyone within a mile radius what your weight was over at the elephant exhibit. The added bonus and ‘interaction part’ would include some sort of calculation that would let everyone know how close you are to actual elephant size; and if you were close enough, you would get an honorary elephant name. “Jumbo” comes to mind.
So my first thought is what kind of freaks jump on a GINORMOUS scale for the entire world to observe? Especially in an ELEPHANT EXHIBIT! As these sage questions were tumbling through my mind, I turned to pose them to my son (age 9); however he had flung himself ON TO THE SCALE. AHHHHHH – and was yelling, “Mom! Mom! Come get on the scale so we can see what you weigh; like at Weight Watchers!” – Um…first off, my kid has an extremely loud voice – so you can imagine how enthusiastic I was to have everyone around me looking to see how quickly I jumped on the scale. Second, we do not have elephant scales at Weight Watchers, and third the earth had no crevices for me to jump into. I had to rely on my coolness; which is always prone to calamity… so I gave him a look accompanied by an “I think not”. He was really disappointed. He BEGGED me to get on the scale. Luckily, my heart is rock hard when it comes to anything weight-related.
But I did watch to see who went on the scale. Pretty much who you’d expect: Kids and men. I stood by there for about 25 minutes (this is dedicated sociological observation at its finest) and not one woman got on that scale. Not even the skinny ones. We all know better.
Men? They don’t know better. They are not socialized to run from public humiliation. They sprint towards it with glee. Believe me; a gender that lights their flatulence, on demand, in front of almost anyone, clearly is not going to be intimidated by a scale in the elephant exhibit.
Because really, only a man would conceive of weighing himself with jeans and shoes on, probably after eating no less, in a public place. If I’m not at Weight Watchers, bare foot and with my lightest tee shirt and shorts (and I go at 7AM before anything but toothpaste has passed my lips) – I will only stand on a scale in my birthday suit, after I’ve cleaned the lint out of my belly button. I’m also convinced blowing my nose prior to weigh-in will be advantageous to the outcome.
But back to the elephant exhibit….
So basically 51% of adults over 16 will avoid that ‘interactive’ wonder like the plague (please note: that was actual professional-type quantitative research going on with that statistic…thank you U.S. Census Bureau)
The only way I’d ever POSSIBLY THINK of getting on that scale is if they reported the outcome as a percent of an elephant’s weight. It would feel pretty good to know I was about 1.5% of an average elephant. In fact, I think I would like to have my weight always reported as a comparison to elephant weight. I think I’m on to something.
[Another note: that 1.5% was the result of hard-core research and mathematics. I’m pretty amazing with the internets (sic) and a calculator] – I “sic’d” myself so you wouldn’t think I was a moron as opposed to humorous. I worry about that sometimes.
ANYWAY, I’m going to suggest “percentage of elephant” weight reporting at my next doctor’s appointment. I can’t imagine it wouldn’t be an improvement over my typical request. I like to ask, “Can I just tell you how much I weigh because being weighed undermines my confidence?” This statement usually earns me a strained smile and then they let me report (lie) about my weight because they’re pretty sure they’ve just seen a sign that I could possibly be a loon. I’m also pretty sure they automatically tack on an extra 5 lbs for any self-reported weight accompanied by a sappy self-helpy sort of line like that. I know I would.