I remember when I was in third grade, my best friend’s older sister called me fat. She didn’t think I’d hear her, but she didn’t cover the receiver of the phone well enough. I heard.
I remember in fifth grade when I begged my mother to help me lose weight. I wanted to eat lettuce and run for miles so my stomach wouldn’t pop out so much.
I remember when I was at this slumber party in seventh grade, and everyone was swapping clothes to try on, but they looked at me with pity, because their size smalls would never fit my belly, and their denim couldn’t stretch around my thighs.
I remember comparing myself to my best friends. I would look at their legs, their stomachs. We’d shop and they could slide into size 00 and I could barely squeeze into a 12.
I remember tears. And starving. Then binging. And running harder. I remember diet pills. Green tea. So much green tea. I remember anorexia blogs. I remember staring into the mirror and poking at my flawed body. I remember sugar free. Carb free. So much celery. Guzzling water. Running farther.
I remember the first time someone told me I looked thinner.
I remember going to college. I was finally free from the mandatory three meals a day. I worked out eight hours a day. I was on a restricted diet.
I remember losing 40 pounds. My parents didn’t recognize the girl that came home to them.
I remember gaining weight back. I remember hating myself. I remember feeling like a failure. I remember my softball coach telling me that my body didn’t look like an athlete’s. I remember dropping out.
I remember going to school in New York. I remember not eating after 4 PM. I remember dropping jean sizes. I remember zipping into a size 4. I remember my cheekbones. Collarbones. Smaller thighs.
These past few months have been miserable. I can’t find the body that was small and trim and lean. I can’t stop putting food down my throat. Flashbacks and nightmares of my coach and my friends commenting.
I look in the mirror. I look in pictures. I zoom in on my thighs. Zoom in on my stomach. I look closely at my neck. I hate what I see. I see excess. Excess everything.
The thing I hate most. Is I’d hate if my third grade self knew how much of a toll that stupid sister had on me. I’d hate if my little sister knew that one person calling me fat would ruin me. I hate that I genuinely care about calories, and numbers, and sugar, and inches, and dress size.
I remember when I was in third grade, my best friend’s older sister called me fat.