The Weights I Carry
By Kendyl, age 16, Tennessee
I leaned over the toilet apprehensively. The floor was cold, and I only had on my cotton pajama shorts. The shallow water mocked me languidly. I wasn't sure if it was because it knew I couldn't do this or because I had gotten myself into this awful situation. A little of both, I guess.
I tied my dark hair back and turned on the iPod stereo that I kept in the bathroom so that my off-key voice would have music to sing to in the shower. "Fat Bottomed Girls" by Queen blared into the small room. How appropriate, I thought grimly as I turned up the music. The walls were very thin in our new house, and I wasn't sure how much my mom might be able to hear.
I gripped my fingers around the toothbrush.
Don't think I didn't know what I was getting into. I'd read the tragic articles about girls like me in Cosmopolitan. I'd heard all about the disorders that girls got from the videos in health class. I'd known about the chicks who almost died because they wouldn't eat.
I never tried to look like the girls plastered on magazines and dancing in music videos. I knew they weren't real. I never wanted to look airbrushed or computer generated. I never wanted to be the unrealistic girl the media has constructed to make me feel inferior. I hated that girl.
I just didn't want to hate myself anymore.
I was tired of looking at myself in my bra and panties every night in the mirror and disgusting myself from the reflection. I was tired of arguing with my mother whenever she made cookies or brownies or things I would love to eat. I was tired of running for miles in the park and doing countless sit-ups only to find that I'd only worked off lunch and breakfast. I was tired of knowing exactly how many calories are in a pack of M&M's or chicken salad when all of my friends were guessing. I was tired of looking at the scale every single week and then wanting to cry. I was tired of skipping out of trips to the lake and swimming pool because I didn't want to be compared to the girls in Betsey Johnson bikinis. I was tired of not being able to wear tight tops because they would be considered "unflattering".
I was tired of being what I was.
I wasn't fat. Not really. I just had fat. It's like greed. Just because you have greed sometimes, you're not necessarily a greedy person. I still had boyfriends and guys who told me I was hot. I only needed to lose twenty or so pounds to be what I wanted. So why was it this hard?
I'd lost a lot of weight before. Fifteen pounds. I had been so close. My sister offended me by asking if I was bulimic, and other relatives gaped at my tighter tummy in surprise. But then my boyfriend had dumped me, and I'd developed a larger appetite. It also didn't help that my mom bought a house and didn't have the money to buy me the expensive Lean Cuisines and Weight Watchers anymore.
I'd gained most of it back, leaving me in exactly the same place as before: on my knees in front of the toilet.
As the water in the toilet blinked up at me, I contemplated consequences. Someone had told me that if you try a drug, it's easy to do it again because you're not so scared anymore. Would this be like that? If I stuck the toothbrush down my throat, would I become addicted to it? Would I become the next interview in magazines? Would I be the one in the health videos?
I sighed. And dropped the toothbrush onto the cold floor.
My story isn't one of overcoming a great adversary. I didn't overcome anything. Because, as I write this now, I'm still something that I wish I wasn't. I still drop to my knees, sometimes for God and sometimes on the bathroom floor. But I still haven't pushed the toothbrush all the way back yet, which is some sort of accomplishment, I guess.
Instead of letting all of the eight hundred calories of the day fall into the bowl, I fill it with salt water, wishing that I could lose weight by crying.
Because then I'd be thin by now.