TRIGGER WARNING - discusses eating disorder behavior
Katherine. Livvy. Pearl. The stars of Beauty Matters. Hanging over her bed.
The poster was curling on the edges but had never fallen. Not once. It showed the three celebrities posing in bikinis, drinking margaritas with enough sex appeal to make up where every white male in American over the age of 60 was lacking (which was also probably Beauty Matters’ primary demographic). Abs shined with blinding radiance, defined muscles on bodies that were made to be shown off.
Lauren kept them there as a reminder of the person she wanted to be, but that line of thinking had gotten her to where she was today, and where she was today wasn’t good.
The show had started it all for her. She was only twelve when she first heard the term
count your calories
for the first time - or at least, really registered its meaning. Suddenly it wasn’t rice cake, it was
It wasn’t cake, it was
was scary, but dipping past
was just impossible.
Katherine, Livvy, and Pearl counted their calories. They used an app to make sure they were staying on track with their fitness goals. They tracked it all before every single meal, not taking a bite until they knew exactly
what they were about to eat. Food no longer existed.
Lauren was proud of herself the first time she went under
and even more proud when
went down, too. It was an accomplishment.
had paid off in big ways, in the form of two
that had practically vanished.
Along with that, though, so had all of her energy.
Lauren’s parents didn’t notice the problem until her bones started showing. She had dropped twenty pounds in only three months - the most weight in the shortest time period she had ever done. She
stopped getting her period
long before that, but thought of it as another big success. Livvy was constantly saying that she had missed her period on the show, taking pregnancy tests and faking a scare as clickbait.
Lauren was looking up at them now, doing what she had done for the past seven years when she couldn’t fall asleep. Counting the number of bikini pieces between the three of them
Looking up and remembering how many calories (probably) were in those margaritas
Wondering how many more hours she’d be staring at the ceiling, stomach hurting, head pounding, mind spinning, while she thought about the
and how long it would be until she was finally happy.
Every number felt too high.
until the day she saw kombucha
and said even that was too much.
She showed her friends the
bad foods list
she had saved on her phone, and praised herself for the way she could resist foods that even Katherine, Livvy, and Pearl couldn’t. She was stronger than they were, she raved, and weighed even less.
She showed her friends, until one day, her friends were all gone. They were doing things that people who didn’t care about themselves did - go to parties, eat fatty foods, and drink until their stomachs stretched in their jeans.
Lauren hadn’t felt stretched in years.
But today, she was laying on her bed, staring at the stars of her life, and
Tears were flooding down her face, and she couldn’t stop them. For the first time in seven years, she looked up at Katherine, Livvy, and Pearl, and saw something
She wanted to go back to when she was twelve and take that poster down. She wanted it to fall. Why hadn’t it fallen? What was holding it together?
How had she not fallen apart yet?
She wanted to ask Katherine, Livvy, and Pearl if they were okay. If they were struggling as much as she was with holding herself up all the time. She wanted to ask if they had ever
skipped birthday parties
stayed home from dances
because they were ashamed. She wanted to ask if they
lived in fear.
The things that they told her in treatment were coming to her mind today, all because of this stupid poster. These idols that she had looked up to (literally and figuratively) all her life had made her miss out on what were supposed to be the prime of her life. She
lost so many memories
because she had really believed that
beauty is the only thing that matters.
The tears stopped. She got up. She stood on the bed, her head lowered to avoid hitting the ceiling. She held onto the corner, taking a moment to register what she was about to do.
She pulled. Hard.
bikini pieces became 2 and 4, then became zero when she crumbled the two pieces up. Into the trash they went,
seven years of fear
going with them. Without thinking, Lauren reached up and touched the ceiling where they had been,
hidden from the world
for so long, blocked from seeing the daylight.
She laid back down on the bed, the tears drying on her cheeks. It was only for a brief moment, though, because she knew almost immediately who belonged up there. The person that had been hidden from the world for so long.
Lauren rolled over and grabbed the photo album she kept in a shoebox in her desk. There weren’t many pictures, but there was one she was looking for…
There. A little girl.
from ear to ear. Wearing her tiny soccer jersey with pride as she showed her spoon to the camera. The
ice cream sundae
was almost as big as her head, and she was clearly
every single bite of it. It was her, when she was around seven years old. Years before Katherine, Livvy, and Pearl made an appearance on her screen, and then on her ceiling. Before
food was calories
existed in her mind. This little girl was the person she wanted to be now. For the first time in a long time, she wanted to be
Lauren took her spot on the bed, staring up now at that little girl - the star that radiated brighter than Katherine, Livvy, and Pearl ever could. She took a deep breath and reached down to touch her stomach, lightly. She wanted to feel the way her body was. She wanted to understand that that body was
This was the star she wanted to see every day: