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Life is more than a thigh gap

Blythe Baird “When the Fat Girl Gets Skinny”

The year of Skinny Pop and sugar-free Jell-o cups,

we guzzled vitamin water and vodka,

toasting to high school and survival

complimenting each other’s thigh gaps.

Trying diets we found on the Internet:

menthol cigarettes, eating in front of a mirror, donating blood

replacing meals with other practical hobbies like making flower crowns or fainting.

Wondering why I haven’t had my period in months

or why breakfast tastes like giving up

or how many more productive ways I could have spent my time today

besides Googling the calories in the glue of a US envelope.

Watching America’s Next Top Model like the gospel

hunching naked over a bathroom scale shrine

crying into an empty bowl of Coco Puffs

because I only feel pretty when I’m hungry.

If you are not recovering, you are dying.

By the time I was sixteen, I had already experienced being clinically overweight, underweight, and obese.

As a child, “fat” was the first word people used to describe me

which didn’t offend me until I found out it was supposed to.

When I lost weight, my dad was so proud.

He started carrying my before-and-after photo in his wallet.

So relieved he could stop worrying about me getting diabetes.

He saw a program on the news about the epidemic with obesity.

Said he is just so glad to finally see me taking care of myself.

If you develop an eating disorder when you are already thin to begin with, you go to the hospital.

If you develop an eating disorder when you are not thin to begin with, you are a success story.

So when I evaporated, of course everyone congratulated me on getting healthy.

Girls at school who never spoke to me before stopped me in the hallway to ask how I did it.

I say, “I am sick.”

They say, “No, you’re an inspiration.”

How could I not fall in love with my illness?