The other day I was hanging out with Chris, Lana, and Laurie. Laurie’s dad had ordered us a pizza, and we were talking about how hungry we were waiting for it to come, and how I was particularly hungry because I’ve been sick and had no appetite.
Lana said something along the lines of, “Well you should at least try to eat breakfast.”
And I said, “I never skip breakfast. It’s the most important meal! Even when I wasn’t eating I never missed breakfast.”
Lana gaped at me. I realized that, while I don’t really keep it a secret, my quote-unquote eating disorder is not what you’d consider common knowledge. I had already told Chris, although he didn’t know the details, and at some point I had also told Laurie. But me and Lana aren’t incredibly close and I had never wanted to worry her.
“When weren’t you eating?!” I couldn’t believe the look of shock on her face.
I shrugged and tried to laugh it off. Chris and Laurie looked really, really uncomfortable. “You know, for a few weeks last year or so. I’m over it now.”
Then I had to correct myself. “I mean, a couple weeks, in seventh grade.”
Honestly, the details are a little foggy.
I have what I like to call a highly selective memory. I block out bad things or things that I don’t like thinking about. I know that it happened, but I’m honestly not sure around what time or for how long I could really be counted as having a “disorder.”
It started when me and Cara, who had then only recently become friends, started religiously counting our calories the summer after seventh grade. I don’t know if she was trying to lose weight or trying to get healthy or what, but I figured, hey, a thousand is a nice round number! That must be how many calories a person is supposed to eat in a day. After all my problem I had had the past year, I finally had a real best friend! Anything she said, I went along with.
So technically I had a disorder (albeit and accidental one) for a while, it just took a while for the results to show.
Eating disorders are diseases of the mind, not the body. Their symptoms manifest physically, yes, but an eating disorder comes from a place of self-loathing deeper than simply wanting to lose a couple pounds.
No one purposely becomes anorexic, or bulimic, or a binge eater, or any other number of things. It’s not like all eating disorders start the same—I’m probably on the stranger side, what with my misunderstanding of the meaning of calories. But just like a drug addict doesn’t want to be dependent on heroin, a person with an eating disorder doesn’t want to watch their body waste away before their eyes.
I get called thin a lot. And I am thin; it’s not like I have a problem with someone simply stating a fact. What I have a problem with is someone calling me thin as a compliment. In today’s world, everything is about having a tiny waist and big boobs. If you don’t look like that, then, well, you better figure out a way to make yourself look like that because, in the eyes of society, no one is going to want you otherwise.
It’s disgusting, and I have no idea what I’m supposed to do about it.
I hate being called thin as a compliment. The other day I was at a speech and debate tournament. After the tournament we had a pizza party, and I ended up talking to this girl Pat who’s on my team.
She was complaing about how greasy the pizza was, to which I responded that I love pizza grease. If my food comes with grease on it then for god’s sake I’m going to eat the greasy pizza.
She answered, “But you’re so skinny! I would KILL to be able to look like that.”
Ignorance is bliss. Sometimes, I wish I could be so blissfully deluded to think that, yeah, a thousand calories is plenty. Sometimes, I wish that I could still think of eating disorders the way I saw self harm—something that happens rarely, to people that are really, seriously ill.
I wish that I could pretend these things don’t happen. I wish I could keep them from happening to me and to the people I love.
Sometimes I wonder if Chris looks at me and thinks about it. The other day he picked me up and carried me up the stairs and said “Wow, you’re so light!” and I wonder if the thought ever crossed his mind that, yeah, I’ve got a rocking metabolism.
But somewhere down the road, I’ve also spent a few weeks of my life not eating much of anything…except for breakfast.