Thinner Digital Precision Body Fat
Things I Wish I Didn’t Know

One of my customers ordered the new Avon Thinner Digital Precision Body Fat and Hydration Scale. Aimee lives alone, in a second-story brown stucco condo facing the west lagoon. I spent an hour with her last month, watching her peruse the latest brochures and handing her samples of wellness products. She sat on a black leather couch with a maroon doily precisely centered on each armrest.

“Here, look at the What’s New. There’s a lot of new health things in there.” I held out a thin glossy book meant for Avon representatives only. All the latest products and samples glowed from the cover. Get your advanced demo products now! The words screamed, ordered you in jarring primary colors to take at least one of everything! New fragrance! New colors! Get ‘em now! Show ‘em off! She grabbed the booklet and thumbed through the pages, and I realized in that moment that Avon saved it’s most blatant and lurid advertising phrases for us reps.

“Can you get me one of these?” Aimee nodded at a page filled with purple lettering and slim women modeling rubber fitness contraptions in uncomfortable-looking positions. I followed her eyes to the upper right hand corner of the page, a photograph of a square silver scale surrounded by frantic copy. Measure your body fat! Measure hydration!

I looked at Aimee, at her slender arms with clearly defined biceps and shoulders, at her shapely legs crossed beneath a short pleated tennis skirt, at the state-of-the-art treadmill hulking behind her and the full-length mirror mimicking our conversation.

“Sure.” I almost added, “But you’re so skinny and beautiful, what’s the point?” but I kept silent, made a notation on my pink order pad, shook her hand, and left her with a pile of skin care samples on a circular crystal table. Whatever, I thought as I walked to the next condo, whatever. Fat Scales R Us.

When the scale arrived and I arranged for delivery Aimee had a change of heart.

“I need a more precise scale,” she told me over the telephone. “I special-ordered one from the Sharper Image.” She words came in short breathy spurts and I heard an electronic whir in the background.

“Good for you,” I answered, picturing her lithe body running up a fake treadmill hill. “Good luck with that. Hope your numbers are where they need to be!” I hung up the phone and looked at the bright blue box sitting on my lap. I stood up, stuck it under one arm, and marched to my Avon graveyard, a pile of discarded demo products hiding in one corner of my garage. I’ll wrap it up later and send it back to Avon, I thought. I’ll send that yellow foot tub some old lady returned back with it. What a hassle. I turned out the light and promptly forgot all about it until yesterday when reader J.K. emailed, asking just how much Frankie the pig weighed.

This morning I retrieved the blue box and opened it at the kitchen table. A cool metallic silvery square scale with a digital read-out and four rounded buttons was inside. Two large gray metal pads slightly rise from the scale, one on the right, one on the left. I read the instruction booklet.

This comprehensive digital scale provides all the information you need to manage your weight, at the touch of your toes. It measures weight with ultimate accuracy, body fat, and even your body’s hydration level. It can even be programmed for the entire family.

All right! Sharper Image ain’t got nothin’ on Avon, I thought, as I started pressing the buttons to input my own personal data. Select Age. 39. Check. Select Gender. Female. Check. Select Height. 5’7″. Check. Select Fitness. Huh? I consulted the manual and chose Mode 2 for moderate activity. The scale scrolled through my selections as a final check and shut itself off.

I set it on the floor and stepped right up, careful to match my bare feet to the metal pads. The display blinked, then splashed my weight, body fat, and hydration level front and center. 145 pounds. 25.8 percent body fat. 54 percent hydration. I glanced at the tables in the booklet and noted with satisfaction that my body fat and hydration were in the “moderate” range. Not too shabby, I thought, kind of wishing I fell into the “excellent” or “good” range but thankful I didn’t rate an “overweight.” Time for the pig.

I searched the kitchen junk drawer for a tape measure and attached the leash to Frankie’s red harness. Sit, pig, sit! I pushed Frankie’s rump into the floor and measured him from butt to snout, figuring this would make an appropriate height. I input this number plus his gender – male- and his fitness level – Mode 3 for strenuous – and age – 1 I guess – into the machine.

“Ok, Frankie, up on the scale! Up!” I coaxed him with a saltine and once his hind legs hit the scale I pushed his head to get him to sit. His entire rump covered the metal fat detection strips and he looked at me with a bit of confusion as he ate the cracker.

“Alrighty, pig, let’s see your numbers.” I pushed him off the scale, wiped off the crumbs, and peered at the display.

57 pounds. 18.1 percent body fat. 60 percent hydration.

What?! What?!

Holy crap. I’m fatter than a pig.

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