I paused in front of the mirror, turning, inspecting the fabric and its uncomfortably close relationship with my skin.
Every curve outlined.
Every flaw accentuated.
No matter my apparent need for them, I had grown weary long ago of compliments. Compliments served only to fuel both my previously shattered ego and the irritation that was born, in my eyes, from the giver’s pity at seeing an average-at-best girl thinking less than average thoughts about herself.
Ugly. Hideous. Disgusting. Fat.
I had two lovely, healthy boys, one of whom I had nearly lost twice before his first breath had ever been taken.
I should be grateful, not disgusted.
Some days, I’d catch a glimpse of what others had always told me was there. On those days, I wondered if every action by another was for that reason alone: my own personal double-edged blade.
People only love you if you’re beautiful. Thin is beautiful.
Followed quickly with, He only wants to fuck you; that’s why he said those nice things/was being helpful/held the door for you.
So what if he does? My alter ego countered with petty logic meant to shut me up. It must mean you’re pretty.
I scoffed at myself, the internal war still blazing. Always an inferno.
The other days?
I look like hell.. they’ll all be judging me.
On those days, my eyes were always averted. Face, made up or not, masked by a baseball cap. A baggy shirt and pants drifting aimlessly across my frame, the shame riding over me in waves for not being “better” – for being lazy: hair undone, clothing that always ended in jeans and a sweatshirt instead of the form-fitting cuteness that screamed for people to look at me.
I didn’t want them looking at me on those days.
On those days, I could never be the person society said I should be.
And I could never measure up to the standards I had set for myself.
At my lowest points, my battles with myself turned to numbers and those numbers became my life. They were the be-all and end-all of everything that, in those moments, I was striving to become.
102 – BMI: 16.46
Not good enough. You’re still fat. Those jeans you used to wear don’t fit you right. It isn’t because your body has changed shape after having children; it’s because you are F-A-T.
I peered at my reflection in the mirror, blue eyes as empty as that to which the rest of me had long become accustomed. But… below 17 is considered anorexic. You said 105 was good enough. We could quit at 105.
No. My chin jutted out in determination as I stood taller and sucked in my stomach. 100 is the new goal. We can be done then.
My BMI stopped declining at just below 16. I was unconvinced, even at under 100 pounds, still seeing the fat in my reflection, still destroying myself on a daily basis for what I thought others must surely be thinking about me.. and for what I was thinking about me.
But beyond all of the doubts and self-deprecation, beyond any number I could ever hope to see staring back at me from a scale or a tape measure, no matter my opinions or those of the voices around me, I was still empty..
My hard-earned 99 pounds of misery..
At 5’6″, my Body Mass Index was 15.98.
To give you an idea, that’s slightly less than Kate Moss
and slightly more than Calista Flockhart.
In other words: Not Healthy.
This post is a non-fiction response to a prompt by The Red Dress Club. I honestly believe that finding myself pregnant with Baby Boy #3 is the one thing that saved my life.
I may not see myself as “beautiful,” but I do finally see myself as a human being… and one who is entitled to all of the flaws that entails.
It can open doors – and can also shut them.
Write a scene in which a physically beautiful character is somehow impacted by that trait. If you are doing non-fiction, you can write about yourself or someone you know.
Word limit is 600.