Go math. Woo-hoo for you if you can do math. I can’t. I’ll please the math major and algebra teachers everywhere by saying yes, it is important. But this is not about math.
Numbers are everywhere. Anywhere you look there’s some kind of number affecting your life. You really couldn’t escape them if you tried. And you shouldn’t, honestly. Numbers do bring an effective order to life. But to some extent, they are extremely harmful. That’s why I hate ’em. Numbers are stupid.
Obviously, numbers are incredibly relevant when it comes to health. Food boxes are riddled with numbers and people measure themselves daily. But I’m just gonna come out and say it. Both of those things infuriate me. I understand the need for a Nutrition Facts label, but is there not a better way to inform people of something’s contents than to enforce a feeling that they have to count everything they put in their body? If you are trying to lose weight and have been told counting calories is the best option for you, I’ll back off. The majority of the population shouldn’t be trying to lose weight, though. There are also cases in which people must watch what they eat because of rare conditions. I’ll reiterate, I’m an 18-year-old working on self-confidence and not a health professional. So don’t take anything I say to heart if that’s you. But for the rest of us, one phrase rules our lives: “diet and exercise.” It’s important to understand that this does not mean “go on a diet and exercise hard every day.” It means have a healthy, balanced diet and remember to stay active.
It’s okay to wince once in awhile when you turn your afternoon snack over and look at the label. I’d suggest not even looking. Not everything is going to be as healthy as that kale smoothie you get on your “good days” before work. Counting fat cals, sodium, sugars and everything in between is just adding another layer of stress onto an already over-stressed population.
When talking about this stuff with my friends, it’s sometimes hard for me. I want them to understand I’m coming from a place of love. So, I guess, one way to look at it is to think about why food exists in the first place. It’s here to nourish us. If you are hungry, eat what you’re hungry for. A lot of times, you end up eating a lot more than you planned because you went for the “healthier” option upfront and your body regrets it later. I’m not saying go ham on McDonald’s every single night, but if you’re debating between a salad that’s going to leave you wanting more and a sandwich with a cookie on the side, think about what is honestly going to make your tummy happier. Let’s add another layer. The food industry expanded because we are meant to enjoy it. If we’re not enjoying it, then what are we wasting all this damn money on?! This is where the real choices come in. If you are a salad person, go for it. If you’re not, that’s fine too.
What I want my friends to know, and what I want everyone to know, is that you should be able to enjoy eating. It sucks to have to eat and think about how many calories every bite is worth. So don’t do that! Eat what you want and until you’re full, please. Ignore the numbers every once and awhile.
It sucks that our sizes are numbers. I don’t have quite the same kind of solution to this one, but I more so want to talk about the problem. People today talk so much about not comparing ourselves to others and not looking at a model’s size as something we should be working towards. Body positivity has gotten a lot better recently and some fearless individuals do really own who they are. But how are the rest of us supposed to stop comparing when it’s so easy to do so? When it’s so concrete? You can google what size most models are today. Their heights, waist sizes, probably their weights, too. Ladies, we even compare boob sizes with each other and that’s like the last thing we can control.
It literally pains me when a friend of mine talks about weighing themselves. It’s not that I’m judging them–that’s not it at all. I just don’t want someone to have to look in a mirror and think of a number. Words are so much better. EX: ‘Petite and fun-sized’ is so much better than 5’1″. There are millions and millions of beautiful words we could use to describe people that are so much more descriptive than ‘137 pounds.’ Leave that to the doctor.
And finally, the grade. For some, there’s no number that can make you feel more worthless than your grade. You could have the highest grade in the class and sometimes…it still isn’t enough. 98 percent? I f*cked up on that two percent didn’t I. 65 percent? I might as well drop out at this point.
Obviously, grades help us learn. I don’t think anyone can disagree that feedback is a good tool for learning. HOWEVER…how are we supposed to learn when some systems are set up for grades just to be thrown at us and then move on?
I had a physics teacher in high school who hated grades. We got along very well. We had “quizzes” every once in awhile and received a letter for each one that was not reflective of an amount of points we got off. Instead, the letter represented the level of understanding he thought we had on that small topic based on the small quiz. We had multiple chances to learn each topic on these small quizzes before we were actually tested for a grade (the school required these tests, they weren’t his choice).
Most of the time, teachers will tell you that grades are there so they can see what they need to work on. Honestly, um, I think there’s a few better ways we could do that. I’m sure most teachers would agree, too. Teachers are awesome–I don’t think they honestly believe grades that make their students feel like maybe an education wasn’t for them are they best way to gauge a group’s success.
Numbers make some people happy. I’m not trying to take that away. All I’m saying is I don’t love what they’ve done to us as a people. If a no carb diet is the only thing that makes your stomach happy, please continue eating this way. The same goes for no sugar diets, meat and dairy free diets and everything in between. You don’t have to take anything out of your diet to be a “healthy” person. As we’ve been told from the beginning of time, the key is balance. Your stomach should be on the same corner as Walgreens–happy and healthy.
I know it’ll be awhile until there’s major change to the American grading system. Until then, it’s up to us to try not to compare ourselves to others and to appreciate learning for what it is. Numbers are numbers! You can’t sum up knowledge in a percent.
You are enough!