Yesterday I looked at myself in the mirror And although I tried to take the advice given to me by my therapist I was unable to find a single thing I might even just tolerate about myself. Instead, my mind and heart raced each other, trying to see who would win the prize of defeating me as I scan my naked body for each and every inconsistency and insufficiency.
You see my first memory of self hatred comes from a place most people could not predict. Imagine me at six years old standing in the shower, so proud of myself For finally graduating from the bathtub I had associated with childhood. I had just finished reading “Falling Up” by Shel Silverstein. And out of the more than 400 poems by this poet one stuck to my brain Like peanut butter on the roof of my mouth after eating a PB&J.
Now if you’ll forgive me for getting off track for just this moment I’d like to read you this poem entitled “Scale.”
“If I could only see the scale, I’m sure that it would state That I’ve lost ounces...maybe pounds Or even tons of weight. ‘You’d better eat some pancakes- You’re skinny as a rail.’ I’m sure that’s what the scale would say… If only I could see the scale.”
If you’ve ever read a poem by Shel Silverstein you’d know that each of them Are accompanied by an illustration. This particular poem is positioned next to a drawing of a person standing on a scale Unable to see the number because their stomach juts out just far enough To block their view of the information that scale is providing. I remember looking down at my naked body Only to realize that i also could not see my feet. My childish, growing, prepubescent tummy obstructed my view of my toes. And I remember thinking for the first time, “Wow, I am fat.” And that same feeling has followed me throughout these subsequent years. Throughout elementary, middle, high school and beyond. My dysmorphic perspective has been a shadow of which I could not shake. And try as I might, deep down I knew that this was my fate.
I started restricting what I ate starting in 6th grade. -I counted calories lost and gained and measured my size by the tightness of a tank top. I watched videos of people like Eugenia Cooney, and inspired myself through the photos I saw of Emaciated girls kept alive by feeding tubes. I was 12. -I was diagnosed with Ee Dee En Oh Ess in the summer of seventh grade. EDNOS is a catch-all eating disorder characterized by the characteristics you lacked To be able to gain the coveted name brand DSM-5 diagnosis of anorexia. -This I considered to be my failure. To not qualify because of a lack of being underweight was all I needed for motivation. So I doubled down on my efforts to lose weight and by the age of fourteen I had finally achieved that which I so...craved. I was the best. The skinniest. The one people whispered about in the halls and I had all the attention I could ever dream of getting. And I was happy. Wasn’t I?
Skip ahead to now and you will know my comeback story. Seven years of weekly therapy, numerous psych ward stays, and one near-death experience I can finally say that I am at a stable and healthy weight. I continue to despise my body, but now I have the tools and mechanisms to be able to fight off the demon I had nicknamed “Ana”. -And while I still cannot say that I truly love myself the way I am, Slowly and steadily I continue to improve. And I hope that one day I can look into that mirror, take in all my flaws and still be able to tell little 6 year old Grace… “Sweet girl, you will be okay”.