*****. Half packets of Crystal Light. Singular squirts of Mio. Water.
Until grade twelve, being the fat girl was all that I knew.
While my friends were arranging dates and sharing clothing, I spent days attempting to find a shirt that made me feel okay.
I couldn’t look like I was trying too hard to hide for my own sake, but I also could not have anything too form fitting because the names that I was called would stay with me forever.
Jeans whose zippers did not do up, clothing stores being branded where only “old ladies” shop being the only places that carried my size and fingernails digging into the skin of my stomach; pinching, bruising and tugging as though if I pulled hard enough, pounds would fall off.
As though, if I pulled and pulled and pulled, somehow a perfect version of myself would be revealed and all would be okay.
I would be okay.
When the weight began to lower, people began to pay attention.
It is made apparent that as soon as stares of admiration, awe and **** began to linger, it means that treatment towards you will soon change.
No longer was I labelled the calorie infused, roll bearing soft drink that skinny girls would never even consider ordering,
rather I was a diet coke, bubbly and full of conversation.
I had their attention finally. I could take photos without being embarrassed. I could do as I wish and be with who I desired because no longer was I being held back by the suffocation of being deemed overweight,
of being different in the eyes of the public.
One day, I made a promise to myself that my weight loss would not encourage me to seek acceptance and attention from the boys in my small town who had never once looked in my direction until every vertebrae of my spine could be counted even through the fabric of my shirt as I sat in a chair.
But, when that’s all that you have craved in so long, it is both an incentive to continue and enough to induce the same high that your stomach growling does.
Suddenly, their eyes on me became just a game.
How many stares could I acquire by the end of a night out, phone numbers could I have added and fingers inside of me due to the deconstruction and reinvention of myself?
The answer is simple:
as long as the number of your body count is higher than that of the calorie intake of the day,
After all, this journey was for me. Right? That was what I heard endlessly.
“You look so good,”
“I am so glad that you made the decision to get healthy,”
and “Do you want to go out with me,”
were dialogues that had previously been foreign to me but now occupied the entirety of social considerations relating to me.
I had gone from a ghost, simply navigating through life unnoticed for fear of others being seen with me
to a staple of success,
someone who everyone wanted to be.
Being able to see each of my ribs as easily as the keys of a piano,
the ivory hidden behind the pale shield that was so viciously criticized by others,
was all that I needed to breeze through my high school years. That was all. Why hadn’t I done this before?
I was no longer a person by the time I graduated.
I was a machine that had been conditioned to attain whatever standard society deemed fit for that day.
Thick. Curvy. Victoria’s Secret. Fenty.
Those trends became just words again. I didn’t want to be those things.
I wanted to be the girl whose clothes are always baggy, who gets sick at the thought of ordering an extra small shirt because it could be smaller and who believes that a size zero is far from good enough.
I fed into the belief that the numbers on the scale and that were embroidered into the jeans that graced my hips are the complete dictator of my worth.
I wanted to be the success story worthy of the compliments that I had received because progress and results deserve rewards.
The problem is that instead of the relief and rest that I desired upon being thin, I have been rewarded with fainting in class, constant streams of questions, getting drunk with one shot and a constant calculator that ticks in my mind.
How many calories are in a piece of gum? How many calories are in one piece of lettuce? How many cups of water can I drink in one day to finally feel full?
I understand that my ultimate goal weight will continue to leap backwards, as though it was never stagnant in the first place.
150. 140. 130. 120. 110.
In that moment, I am simply a fragment of the ghost that was left behind,
one that is only content with a scale reading of less than zero.
And that is perhaps the understanding that being the fat girl is truly all that I know.
Trigger warning: eating disorder