I was 10. Ten years old. Just a decade old and barely able to think for myself. Yet, I was in a position of making very adult decisions about my body, decisions no one had introduced me to. I was not encouraged by blogs on tumblr or the vast reality tv shows characterizing such disorders. I just wanted to be “skinny.”
This isn’t about me though. This is about every other girl out there who felt so out of place that she got the idea to throw up on her own. Every girl that, subconsciously or not, developed an eating disorder before her first kiss or first school dance. For every girl who felt so pressured in a society of skinny girls to fit in. For every girl who feels the pressure to be something perfect.
Eating disorders are not just about being skinny though, they are about finally feeling as though she is a part of something. If she can just be “normal” and “beautiful”, even if only on the outside, then maybe her inadequate insides would change too. Or maybe, this media driven society wouldn’t even care enough to look at her insides anymore. Maybe they would just accept her. Maybe she could just be a part of it all.
And maybe this is the only thing she feels like she is good at. Maybe there are days where she feels oh so superior. Maybe she walks into the lunch room and looks at the various girls complaining about all the weight they’ll gain if they keep eating like this, and all of sudden she is detached from them. She is above them. Because maybe, for once, she is better at the control game. She doesn’t even have to struggle with it anymore. It’s natural. She is better than the girls who give into those vices. Maybe, during a time in her life that she feels particularly worthless, she can say that she is good at least one thing. And maybe that is enough.
And then all of sudden this has nothing to do with being skinny anymore, not even remotely. She’ll never be skinny enough anyways. No, this is now about pushing all the emotional shit away. This is about her controlling her own life. Finally her life is in her own hands. It is not at the mercy of pressure from her peers or family or teachers. It’s all her. And it feels powerful.
To someone who has never starved themselves, to people who claim they don’t understand how anyone could do it, to people who think it’s all about attention: this is why you should care. You should care because there are a little girls who throw away their youth puking their guts out. There are young women who are so lost and distraught that they bring themselves to the brink of death just to find a shred of themselves. This is not something they choose, can a 10-year-old choose to feel that way? Can a 17-year-old be expected to find the maturity not to feel this way?
I don’t think so.