my before picture is hideous
rolls of fat collecting around my middle almost down to my awkwardly skinny ankles.
my after picture is great, but somehow i think it’s just the angle
that i don’t really look that good
i can’t even appreciate my after picture because now i constantly compare myself to it.
i look at myself in the same mirror,
under the same lighting,
in the same position,
in the exact very same spot,
and i think i look fatter now than i did when i took the pic a month ago
and i’m so very disappointed because this is what i do.
i get thin,
i get fat,
i get thin,
i get fat. because i’m
destined to repeat this
disgustingly unhealthy cycle,
to never be satisfied,
to never settle.
but at what cost?
I can’t even appreciate my after picture, because i’m constantly comparing myself to it,
wondering if i’ve let myself go.
first slowly, bit by bit,
little drops of fear collecting until i’m lying in a huge puddle of bright red failure, like a scene from CSI Miami, and Callie Duquesne’s about to show up with her perfect body and shiny blonde hair and take pictures of my horribly gory demise from moderately overweight person to thin person who was never totally satisfied with herself to slightly heavier person who’s on her way to becoming fat again.
and i’m trying to figure out when it started, when i first became a person who wasn’t comfortable in her own skin, but the memories are hazy, faded and blurry, strung together at random and mentally photoshopped by years of overanalyzing and my writerly imagination filling in the details that i don’t remember, probably never remembered.
I wasn’t born hating my body
sometimes I get glimpses of it, quick flashes of what it might be like to just enjoy the feeling of the sun on my skin, eyes closed, not a thought in the world, but then
walls of reality slam down around me, ruining everything because for just a second, I wasn’t worried that I look fat from this angle, the stretch marks on my legs are showing, I’ve eaten too many carbs today, and I should sit up straight and suck my stomach in and drink 3 liters of water so no food can fit in me and then lace up my sneakers and run until and I can’t feel feelings anymore and the trees in front of me swim and sway and threaten to swallow me whole
not good enough.
no matter how much weight i lose it’s not good enough
i should lift more weights
eat less carbs
cut out processed foods, because gluten is bad! so are things that have more than 5 ingredients! ew!
because we sit here and
judge people’s bodies
judge what food they put in their mouths
and where the hell has that ever gotten us?
when you strip away
all the things that are supposed to keep you warm and happy and comfortable in your own skin
bulimia is the blanket you choose
you wrap yourself in lies
black is slimming
that’ll look great if you wear some spanx underneath
minimize this, maximize that
[[[and not now, but at some point CAN WE JUST TALK ABOUT HOW WE’RE SUPPOSED TO BE SO THIN AND STILL HAVE BREASTS? thanks society, for creating an ideal for female beauty that’s LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE for 95% of the population to obtain without plastic surgery, because when you get that thin your boobs go POOF,
but that’s a rant for another day.]]]
swathed in deceit
wrapped in illusion
push it up
suck it in
because it’s still
not good enough
there will always be jeans that don’t fit
there will always be someone with nicer abs than me
even if i make my body the most perfect thing it can be, abs of steel, muscles coiled around my bones like ropes
there will always be someone else who does it so naturally
so even if i finally build myself the perfect body, there will always be someone else who didn’t have to work as hard because they’re not BROKEN AND SAD like me.
so i’ll never be good enough.
i’ll never be thin enough,
have hair that’s
i’ll never squat enough,
run far or fast enough.
i’ll never BE enough
so you know what?
and i’ve been trying to write the ending of this poem for a few days now, because i want to to end with hope, even the tiniest sliver of low-carb sugar-free portion-controlled panic-induced hope. but this isn’t a lifetime made-for-tv movie about anorexia. those always end well, with the beautiful girl in the hospital surrounded by loving family, and then they cut to a scene of her playing some sport because she got strong again, and yay, no more eating disorder. but what they don’t tell you is that you never get over an eating disorder. you’re never fixed. you’re just stronger than you were before, and that’s the best you can hope for. so this isn’t the end of my story. i’m going to struggle with this for my entire life.
but there is hope.
because today, i’m going to eat something with more than 30 grams of carbs in it and
you know what?
i’m not going to have a panic attack.
maybe i’ll stop when i’m full.
maybe i’ll stop when i’ve stuffed myself.
maybe i’ll obsessively cut it in half and then log it into myfitnesspal.
but maybe not.
and tomorrow, i’m going to lie out and read a book in a bikini and every time i wince and cringe and want to curl up into a ball or go inside or readjust myself so i look better i’m going to remember that
my stretch marks are battle scars
my hair might actually grow long again
my lovehandles are a trophy, not a source of shame
and if what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
if we really believe that
then we shouldn’t hide our scars
and if anyone says a word to me about them
any of the marks 20 years of disordered eating left on my body
if someone says one single disrespectful word
i’m going to tell them the story of the battle taking place inside my skin
i’m going to read them this poem.