The Question

The number we see when we step on the scale is a universal thing. Why is it such a verboten topic of conversation?

“How much do you weigh?”
A simple Google search of this phrase turns up a lot of what anyone would need to know about how our culture treats this question. The top search results include a handful of articles about how much you should weigh, as well as a handful of calculators to determine how much you would weigh on the moon. Or on Venus. If only we could escape gravity, apparently we would all be much much lighter, or comically heavy.

The real, straightforward answer to this question is so taboo that we are left to only guess at the weight of others, and by this hand, we are taught to be ashamed of our own. Even if we could work up the nerve to ask a fellow human this question, if we would dare let these words fall from our lips to the ears of another, the mere question is so abrasive that we really can’t expect a straightforward answer.

The objective reality is that your weight is just a number. You can influence that number, but to some extent, you cannot and perhaps should not have full control of it. And I wonder what would change if this taboo were lifted — how our thinking as a culture might change if someone’s weight were a comfortable topic, or at least an open secret. Would this involuntary reflex of shame be lifted? What do you think would happen? If you could find out the weight of others, would you want to know?

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The Project

That's me. And that number below, hiding in plain sight, is my weight. And therein lies the project: to show ourselves to the world, and open up that pesky little number that is our weight. And it is our hope, by doing this, that the stigma surrounding that number will be dealt a blow. That by just the simple knowledge of knowing the weights of other women just like you, we can stand a little taller, and not be dragged down by the taboo every time that we step on the scale; not be prey to those wishing to peddle us diets, pills, and self-help. To not fall into the trap of buying into the unobtainable ideal.
In order to do this, we need brave women of all shapes and sizes, all ages and backgrounds, who are willing to show themselves to the world and open up that secret that is their weight. And shoot a bullet right through that stigma.

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The Book

A book. With pictures. Of women just like you. And in parentheses, their weight. Opening up the secret for you, so that you can see that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, yours included. And the next time you step on the scale, your first thought won't go to the number you think it should be, but the number right in front of you. This is the goal of our project: to de-mystify and de-stigmatize that number.

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Other Voices

The best of what fellow bloggers have to say about the taboo surrounding the simple fact of one's weight:

In which Aidan Donnely Rowley ponders the question: "To this day, I will not reveal my weight because I feel like it is not low enough...and something tells me I am not alone. Something tells me that you think about these things, that some of these questions rattle around in your head too. But they are sequestered there, right? Because you are not allowed to ask them. But is this healthy? Is this healthy for us to spend so much time fixated on things we are implored not to discuss? I don’t know."

In which Molly McCaffrey poses a challenge: "I feel like if more of us talked about what we weigh, then we could dispel the false notion that our weight is so drastically different than everyone around us—even people we see as having smaller waists or more attractive bodies."

In which Dear Sugar from the Rumpus, a 42 year old columnist, admonishes her twenty-something self: "Stop worrying about whether you’re fat. You’re not fat. Or rather, you’re sometimes a little bit fat, but who gives a shit? There is nothing more boring and fruitless than a woman lamenting the fact that her stomach is round. Feed yourself. Literally. The sort of people worthy of your love will love you more for this, sweet pea."

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The Journey

So how do you create a book that features photos of women, along with their weight?
Our craigslist ad said it all:

"Two females in search of approximately 25 women to take part in a photography project that will culminate in an ebook. Ideally, we would like to work with women of all ages, backgrounds, and sizes. Fully clothed, all very tastefully done, but you must be willing to reveal your weight. The guiding force behind our project is to de-stigmatize that number that is our weight; we're glad to discuss the project further and direct your toward our blog, where you can read more about it."

We didn't know what to expect, but we hoped and prayed that we would get responses. It is such a hard thing to gauge, though - we were asking women we didn't know yet to expose themselves in a way that they were not used to. But also running in the "gigs" section was an ad looking for "models that put out". We thought we stood a slightly better chance than that guy.

For a couple of days, nothing but tumbleweeds rolled through in my inbox. Then a response. Hallelujah! And another! And another! They rolled in slowly, about one a day for a week or so; enough for us to actually be able to schedule a shoot.
"I'm very interested in your project", they read. Interested!! In our project!! We couldn't wait to meet them.
(to be continued...)

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