I am 11. I am standing in front of the bathroom mirror, pinching the fat on my thighs. I am crying, because I can pull away with whole handfuls of fat - at least in my mind. I am hysterical. I am so, so big. I take up too much space, gravity pulls me down so far, I galumph when I move. I pinch more fat. My mother knocks on the bathroom door. Dinner. I wipe my eyes with the back of my hand and emerge from the bathroom, smiling.
I am 15. I am standing in front of the mirror in the girls' locker room. Next to me is my best friend. We are comparing our breasts - hers are much smaller. We then compare our post-adolescent stomachs. Hers is much smaller. I am so, so fat. No, she says, you aren't fat. You're athletic. No one thinks you're fat, you're just not skinny. She turns away. I bite my lip, blink away the tears, choke back a scream. I emerge from the locker room, smiling.
15 is the year I learn to battle my weight. I learn to measure my self-worth in pounds and inches. Today, I will eat only celery and carrots. Tomorrow, I will have black coffee and a cracker. The day after, nothing. Look at yourself, fat girl. You are not worth food. But I get hungry. I so badly want food that I eat without thinking, stuff my mouth with anything I can find, visit fast food restaurants and eat it all. Then I learn to get rid of it, through the cunning use of my left hand and a box of chocolate-flavored laxatives.
I am 18. I am standing in front of my boyfriend, naked. He is staring at me. I don't know what he is seeing. Appreciation? Awe? Disgust? He turns away. He hands me his tee shirt. So you don't get cold, he says. I turn away. Do you think I'm fat? I ask the carpet. No. I think you are too skinny. I can see your veins beneath your skin. He doesn't know what's important. He doesn't know what this means to me. He thinks girls should be big and curvy, and I think I should disappear.
I am 20. I am bent over the toilet bowl, staring at my rippling reflection in the water. I am shoving two fingers down my throat and getting rid of everything I ate, or didn't eat. I am 21. I am drunk, because I drink every night to forget about the fat that is eating away at me. I am wobbling on my heels, jamming my hand down my throat, beginning to cry. I bring up vodka, saliva, bile, blood. I collapse on the tile floor, thanking God that it's all out of me now, nothing can touch me when I'm this empty. I am not worth anything but emptiness.
I am still 20...and I wish things were different...that this never happened...that I loved my flaws...that my flaws didn't exist...that I didn't exist...no, that I were happy...believe in happiness…I so badly believe in happiness.