“My whole life is a delicate cycle, a delicate cycle…” -The Uncluded (Kimya Dawson/Aesop Rock)
This is a story about a girl who is not me.
This girl was your typical, regular sort of little girl growing up in American middle class suburbia. She had a mother and a father who were married and lived together and loved each other, and who had children whom they also loved very much. They loved their children so much that they worked hard to provide for them. These children wanted for nothing.
The little girl grew up in a nice neighborhood of a quiet town, with trees and houses and people who were friendly and trusting but not trusting enough to leave their doors unlocked while they were away. This was not Mayberry. Her house had nice furniture, and her bedroom was pink with a white bookshelf that her Daddy built, full of books with pretty pictures of girls who looked like her. And she and her sister played outside together on the swing set that their Daddy also built, and they slid down the big yellow slide and made sandcastles, and everything was normal and everything was good and they were happy.
And eventually the girl got older and went to school with other girls who looked like her, and some of them had long hair and pretty dresses and she wanted to be friends with them. She became friends with the girls, and they played house on the playground and chased the boys around the jungle gym and they laughed and laughed and laughed. And everything was normal and everything was good and she was happy.
Suddenly the girl was twelve years old and she was in middle school. She noticed that her friends were getting taller and leaner and more grown-up looking, and she was not very tall and not very lean and her face was round. And her friends began buying dresses from the fancy stores where grown-ups bought their dresses. And she learned about money. And they let her try on their grown-up dresses during P.E., and many of the dresses did not fit her, and her round face turned red and she learned what skinny was. And she told her parents she had decided that she wanted to be skinny so she could buy pretty grown-up dresses and look like the other girls.
And her mother told her she was beautiful. And her father taught her how to play tennis, and she played tennis with her father and her sister. And she became good at tennis and joined her school’s team and won many of her matches. Her parents told her they were proud of her like they always did, even when she didn’t win her tennis matches because they loved her very much, and they told her that, too. And everything continued to be normal and everything continued to be good and she was happy. But the dresses still did not fit her.
And in 7th grade she went to tennis camp in the summertime and her friend from school went with her and they shared a room. And she and her friend thought the boys at camp were cute, and they sat with them in the cafeteria. But the boys made fun of her when she ate cake for dessert, and they told her she shouldn’t do that or she would be fat. And the boys did not like girls who were fat and ate too much cake. And the boys were not very nice boys.
So the girl decided she would not eat cake anymore. And the friend of the girl asked her if she wanted to know a secret about being skinny, and the girl said yes. Her friend told her about a television program she had seen where girls who did not want to be fat did not eat very much. And sometimes these girls would eat more than they wanted to, but it was okay because they had learned how to “fix it.” The girl said this did not sound like a very good idea, but she wanted the boys to like her so she tried it. And she became good at it and she became leaner and she did not want to stop. And she could not stop. Still everything was normal and everything was mostly good and she was mostly happy.
Then it was time for the girl to begin 8th grade, and finally she grew as tall as the other girls and her face was less round. And at lunch they would eat sandwiches together and talk and laugh and the girl felt happy. But after lunch her stomach would hurt and her heart would pound and she would begin to feel very bad inside if she did not “fix it.” And the girl did not like feeling this way, and she began to become afraid.
And one night after supper the girl went upstairs into the bathroom and her sister followed her, and she did not know it. When she came out of the bathroom her parents were there with her sister and they were upset. And she became angry with her sister and they did not speak for seven days. The girl’s parents took her to a doctor in the city who told her if she did not stop this she would die. And the girl cried and her mother cried, and she felt sorry and afraid and she did not want to die. And nothing felt normal and nothing felt good and no one was happy.
And for the whole year the girl’s mother drove her to the city to meet with the doctor. And the girl took a pill every day that the doctor said would help her feel better. And after awhile the girl began to feel better. She went to school and she played tennis and her stomach did not hurt when she ate sandwiches in the cafeteria with her friends and they laughed and laughed and laughed. And she was no longer angry with her sister. And everything began to be normal again and everything began to be good again and she was happy.
And the girl continued to feel better, and she did well in school and she played sports and the boys were nice to her, and eventually she went to a good college and her parents continued to tell her they were proud of her, like they always did, because they loved her very much. And everything was normal and and everything was good and she was happy.
But every now and then when the girl looked in the mirror she would remember what the boys at tennis camp had said. And she would fix it.
This is a story about a girl who is not me.
For more on this topic, check out this brilliant blog: http://beckysaysthings.com/2013/07/30/becky-says-things-about-the-epic-fail-of-an-eating-disorder/