An Open Letter to My Eating Disorder

Content warning: This article discusses eating disorders and anorexia.

To the little girl who just wanted someone to see the beauty within her,

You were a beautiful baby born in the springtime unaware of all the things that were yet to come. You took your first steps, spoke your first words, and soon enough, had your first look in the mirror. Freckles covered your nose and Band-Aids covered your scraped little knees. You were so young, free from all judgment and ridicule. Then you had your first piece of cake, but we know it was more than one. The skin on your stomach started to stretch and just like that, you were no longer free from judgment.

You were ten years old and you were okay with the springtime. You would be given meals that were too large for your body, and when you couldn’t finish, you got in trouble, so you learned that you must finish everything given to you, every. Single. Time. You would sneak food out of the kitchen and sit in your room, secretly eating it, embarrassed, scared you would get caught. In the fourth grade, you had your first big crush on a boy, and to your surprise, he liked you back. Joy filled your body, for the first time in a long time. He then told you not to tell anyone. He didn’t want people to know that he liked “you,” nothing specific, just “you.” 

Thoughts started filling your brain. You wondered if it was because of your weight and why you couldn't have just looked like the other girls. Sure enough, you were right. A week later, he told your entire class at lunch that you were "fat" and everyone laughed in agreement. You heard this word so many times. It became a normal thing, you expected people to tell you this. You went to the pediatrician for your checkups, and the occasional day where you faked being sick, and your doctor spent no time trying to sugar coat it, “Stephanie, you’re fat.” She never missed an opportunity to tell you, yet she never gave you advice on how to be healthier. No longer do you see your freckles in the mirror, no longer are your knees covered with Band-Aids because you stay inside, the thought of other people seeing you gave you anxiety. One thing captivated you, we both know what that was. This word, “fat,” should not have made you feel the way it did, you know this now, but through the years of being ridiculed, you learned a new word, a word that would suffocate you and never loosen its grip.

It went by the name of anorexia.

Now you're 13 and you hate the springtime. Your mind was consumed with the thoughts and obsession to be “skinny,” and we both know that you’re lying when you say you’ve overcome that infatuation. You had no one to look up to, no one that looked like you and the only thing you thought when you looked in the mirror was that you were ugly. You grew so tired thinking this, so tired of counting your calories, so tired from working out every single day. I can’t say I remember if you lost weight at this point, our mind was too rotted to recall anything. The fact of the matter was simple, you weren’t skinny and if you weren’t skinny no one would like you. You, a little girl, convinced yourself that this was true. And you, a little girl, starved yourself until you were just skin and bone. Was your spine protruding out of your back not enough for you, or was there still more work to be done? You lost so much weight, and the worst part was that this was all it took to bring back that spark of joy you felt in the fourth grade.

Now you’re in the hospital, with an IV running through your veins, no one needed to know why you weren’t eating, it was our little secret. It’s a year later and you’re so excited to go to school so that everyone can see the new you. Will they finally think you’re beautiful? Every boy that called you ugly now found you one of the prettiest girls at school. The girls that were mean to you wanted to be your friend. You were so young, so ignorant as to what was going on, that you thought this was a good thing. Everyone finally found you beautiful, this was all that the freckled little girl wanted and now she has it.

You’re 14 and you adore the springtime, you even wore bikinis in public. But little by little, the pounds trickled back on. You should have expected this. You didn’t healthily lose weight. You wouldn’t notice this until you were right back where you started, in the mirror, hating yourself. Days would come and go, some were better than others. You would go a few days without eating, but it wouldn’t last long. Your weight seemed to fluctuate almost every single day. You learned the best ways to dress and the best ways to pose, to hide as much as you could, or should I say, hide as much as you can.

Today you’re 18 in the year 2019. There are so many beautiful people in this world to look up to, of all races, ethnicities, genders, sexualities and body types. You are so grateful for this and you are even more grateful that little boys and girls can grow up knowing that every body type is beautiful, as you were not so lucky. But what are you doing? Why do you still look in the mirror every day before your shower and hate your body? Wishing you were skinny, wishing you didn’t have cellulite or stretch marks. You truly do believe that every body type is beautiful, but you still find fault within yourself. You have such supportive people in your life that think you’re beautiful, and to them, you are forever grateful. But you’re still working on yourself and you’re still trying to see the beauty in those stretch marks, and you will, one day. It might not be today or tomorrow, but one day you will love the skin you are in and you will love yourself.

Today, you are a beautiful woman who is learning to love the springtime again, unaware of all the love that is yet to come.

Sincerely, the woman who can now, finally, see your beauty.

Images: All images provided by the author.