by Lucy Slavin
The girl in the music video walks in and suddenly everyone notices, as though she is Cinderella just arriving at the ball and shocking everyone with her poise and beauty. Meanwhile, a hunky man serenades her with honey-filled hums, ravishing rhymes, and longing looks from across the room of people.
I am not this girl, though I once felt considerably close. In the beginning of eighth grade I was a size zero with lengthy limbs and an athletic, slender figure.
I remember being so proud that I could maintain this appearance, simply by eating well and exercising regularly, like all the magazines say in a cliché, “it’s easy to lose weight!” way. I was sure that if I kept with my routine, I could stay that way forever.
Obviously, it did not work. By freshman year, I was my current size four, which troubled me, as I longed for that super skinny, fat free look I had only a year before.
On paper, I was perfectly healthy, but for me it was not satisfying. I began to notice everything as a flaw soon after that. I poured over myself in the mirror, analyzing what I saw as a crooked nose, thin lips, frizzy hair, a short neck, and splotchy skin. I was angry. I so intensely believed that some cosmic force had something against me, and I felt like I needed to hide my appearance to avoid embarrassment.
Suddenly, I felt surrounded and stalked by skinny, statuesque beauties appearing all around me not only in Hollywood movies and makeup ads, but also at Whole Foods, Copperfield’s, the movies, and coffee shops.
I never talked about it though. So I proceeded normally, cracking jokes with friends, goofing off and acting crazy, never saying a serious word about my obsession.
However, during a dinner conversation with a 25 year old friend, we discussed the typical gorgeous girl portrayed in media to intrigue customers.
“I knew girls like that in high school,” she explained, “but I sometimes wondered, ‘why them and not me? Why do they get so much attention about their looks and their personality at the same time?’ It took me forever to realize that it was just confidence.”
That comment changed my perspective. I discovered that when you have a positive outlook, you’ll get more positive feedback from not only others, but also yourself.
I felt thankful that I never resorted to an eating disorder or extreme tactics. I thought about how if I were still skinny, my slightly increased height would make me look like Skeletor, I would be weak in my passion for Irish dancing, and I would look sickly and frail.
I put down the all-green salad meals that didn’t affect me but only left me hungry, and took a look in the mirror. I was healthy already. I began to pick out traits of myself that I did like. I like to think that this change made me even more outgoing, and made me look and feel happier altogether.
Sometimes I still find myself stressing when bathing suit season comes around or a big event, but I remind myself that stressing out makes me look exhausted and anxious, and that it is not worth it if I feel fine and act it. Sometimes I still skip out on pasta alfredo for a chicken Caesar salad, but I never force myself to, and I remind myself that I have to overcome the symptoms of the disease created by skeletons posing for cameras.
Sometimes I still look in the mirror and wonder if others see a cute girl when they look at me, and I remind myself that if I can’t see it myself, that others never will.
by Lucy Slavin