Fashion and Fasting: An Eating Disorder Story

Warning: This post contains information about eating disorders which some readers may find upsetting.

It started with a pair of Abercrombie and Fitch jeans, dark wash denim with gold stitching, cut just below the naval and so slim they basically cut off my circulation. They were a size 00. I was not. I never had been, but desperately longed to be so.

My 15 year old self thought this is what equated happiness. With a minuscule waist would come a sudden rush of confidence I’d never before experienced and long, slender legs would bring with them the admiration of my peers that I craved more than anything. My 15 year old self was wrong.

A £78 pair of jeans became the goal and a tendency to undereat and overexercise was my method of getting there. But before I knew it, the line between tremendous dedication and sorrowful delusion became blurred and the skeletal body of a girl stood there, her judging eyes tracing the outline of her figure in the mirror, no happier than before. Faint hairs coated hollow cheeks, bones jutting uncomfortably through the thinning skin that covered her hips and her calves hurt, nothing severe, just a dull ache that intensified slightly when she walked.

An October evening during my first year at university, the familiar ache returned as I walked to the bar, but as I waited to order, it began to slip away. My head became heavy and my eyes started to close. I looked to the barman but his face wouldn’t focus. I tried to speak. “A margarita pizza, halved with a salad please”, but my head hit the ground too fast.

My next clear memory. I sat propped up against the back of a sofa, tending to the swelling at the back of my skull and taking slow sips of water. A metre ahead stood the wall of the bar. My eyes traced the outlines, this time of the intertwined bodies of people lost in intimacy printed on the burnt orange wallpaper. I sat there staring at the curved thighs and soft stomachs until the paramedic came. He said I was okay. I wasn't so sure.

I returned to my accommodation. I walked through the front door, turned left and scaled the stairs, gripping to the bannister as tightly as I could. I entered my room, locked the door behind me and once again the skeletal body of a girl stood there, staring at herself in the mirror, disgusted by what she saw. Tears fell fast, pausing only momentarily at the cliff of her jutting cheekbones before continuing to stream down her face.

The tired, broken body of a girl then put herself to bed, tucked herself in and finally fell into a deep, healing sleep. I mostly remained there for the coming days as the bump on the back of my head became smaller and a desire to become healthy started to grow instead. I sold a certain pair of dark wash jeans with gold stitching and decided to start searching for happiness in a less frivolous place.