society's silent killer

This article contains mentions of eating disorders and mental illness. Reader discretion is advised.

 

Emily once told me that whenever she feels hungry she snaps her wrist with a rubber band. The sharp sting silences her hunger, slapping the wrist of her stomach for thinking it was okay to speak out of turn.

A magazine I picked up the other day promised me a smaller waist if I just ate pickles for twenty consecutive days. The absence of three inches masks the smell of pickle on your breath.

My junior prom was two weeks away. The junior girls sat around the barren lunch table describing their dresses and giggling about their dates. One girl stressed over her coming period and the fear of it ruining her dress.

“Just don’t eat for a few days before. It’ll go away,” another assured her. There was no longer a need for a lunch table.

I was studying at my friend’s house when she took out a bottle filled with tiny white capsules. She shook one into her hand and pressed it to her tongue.

“This is pure gold. I won’t eat for an entire day on these,” she told me through her cracked smile. I didn’t know you could focus on an empty stomach.

My mother and I watched from our living room as the women on television walked down the runway. Their gaunt faces stared back at mine, taunting and teasing me as they marched forward. Why don’t I look like that?

I sat in my father’s car and wept over my phone. My prom date posted a picture with a small, skinny girl who was not me. She was not me. She was beautiful.

My mirror shattered as I stepped into it. Shards of glass stabbed into every part of my body. It tried to carve into me. I let it.

My dinner plate grew colder and colder. Seconds turned into hours as I sewed my lips closed. I wish they could stay closed forever.

I snapped a rubber band on my wrist as my stomach howled in agony. Emily would be so proud.

“You look amazing!” my aunt exclaimed as she analyzed every inch of my flesh. She hugged me and called me beautiful. She pushed me to the finish line.

My prom date asked me out to the movies. He wanted to sit in the back of the theater. But I was already watching a movie. One where the odd-looking girl removes her glasses and becomes the beauty everyone adores as the curtains close.

 My dentist asked if I was brushing twice a day. He could not figure out why my teeth were rotting. If only he knew how they were constantly under attack by the food I forced out of my stomach.

My mom stared at the shell of her daughter. Her lips pursed into a disapproving smile. I wanted to crawl into her arms and never leave. Instead, I went on a run.

There is a Judas amongst all teenage girls. There is a traitor disguised as health and beauty. It strokes your hair until your hair begins to fall out of your head. It kisses your cheek until it is gaunt and decrepit. It embraces you until there is no more you to embrace. Modern society pressures young girls into bodies that are not theirs. It is silently slaughtering smiles, laughter, and entire lives. The danger it evokes on generations of women, rich, poor, black, white, tall, short, is never spoken about. But I am tired of remaining silent. I am tired of watching my friends kill themselves for the sake of size. I am tired of compliments that inflict nothing but pain and hunger. I am tired of being tired all the time.