Anna sits in her counselors office, right across from the psychologist in a hard wooden chair. She sits hunched in it, curled into herself, defensive. She wears a hard, guilty look on her face, anticipating confession time.
I dont have an eating disorder. Sometimes I wish I did, but I dont. Sure, there are things I dont like about my body, but youll have a hard time finding any girl that doesnt feel that way. I mean, yeah, sometimes I hate the way I look. Some days I wake up, pull on a pair of jeans and just stare into the mirror. I look at the pear-shaped silhouette of my body and just cringe. But that doesnt mean I have an eating disorder. If I have an eating disorder, every girl in America has an eating disorder.
I used to have an eating disorder. I dont anymore. It wasnt even a real eating disorder. It was just, one day I caught this awful cold and couldnt eat for three days because my throat was so sore. When I was finally better, I stepped on the scale and noticed that I had lost five pounds. Five pounds in three days! It was so easy. So I went back to school and brought just a small plastic bag of cereal for lunch, telling everyone I was still too sick to eat. I did that for the entire week. I lost ten pounds in one week! I had gone down from 142 pounds to 132 pounds and it had been so easy. Sure, I constantly felt hungry
but it was a prideful sort of pain. It was such a thrill
watching the numbers get lower and lower each day, knowing I was the one doing it. I felt shitty about myself, about the way I looked but now, now I wasnt just punishing myself for it
I was doing something about it. I mean, starving yourselfit would seem destructive to everyone else in the world, but it seemed constructive for me. There was finally something about myself I could control, some way in which I could hurt myself and make myself better at the same time.
But I stopped. I like food too much to have an eating disorder. And bulimia didnt work either. It was too much work, throwing up all the food I had just eaten. Its hard making yourself throw up at first. I tried gagging myself with my toothbrush, but I couldnt hold out until I threw up. I tried punching myself in the stomach, burping repeatedly. Finally I learned that kneeling over with your butt in the air and burping at the same time gets you vomiting the fastest. But still, theres so much time and effort put into
its draining! And at the end, you never feel like youve gotten enough of the food out. Its not as satisfying as anorexia. When you are starving yourself, you take pride in your self-control, but when youre purging, youre doing it because you feel guilty about losing your self-control. See, eating disorders arent just about your body-- I mean, sure, thats where the focus is, but its also about self-possession. Youre claiming yourself, fixing yourself, letting out all of the faults and anger and guilt that youve held inside and coming out a new person. Theres hope at the end of every eating disorder
at first, at least.
But I stopped it. I dont do that anymore. I mean, sure, I have lapses sometimes
but its not any different than the self-consciousness that any woman feels. I guess
I feel like eating disorders never die. They kind of lurk at the back of your mind, rising back up whenever you order dessert at a fancy restaurant or stare at your ass for just a minute too long in the mirror. And sometimes, I have these fantasies where I become slim and beautiful. In one, Im skeweredlike a roasted leg of lambIm skewered on a pole and someone is carving away bits of my flesh with a sharp knife. They cut away all the blubber from my stomach, my butt, and my thighs and I stare at it as they throw the pink mess onto the floor. And sometimes, Im lying on a surgery table and the doctor sticks a tube into my ass and starts sucking and I can see my ass just deflating as though they were sucking helium out of a balloon. So, OK, yeah, thats a little weird
but ask any womanany woman!and shell have dreamt of something like it at least once in her life. Whether she admits it or not, shes thought about it. See, I dont have an eating disorder, I just have the same doubts and insecurities that every other woman has.