Everyday you look at the mirror.
You look but you don’t see.
You don’t see your perfections.
Because you’ve mastered the art
of only noticing the imperfections.
Because surely the flaws are the only thing others notice,
Others see you everyday
In the morning.
In the evening.
In every mood.
And in every season.
And they know you in ways you don’t.
And never will.
Listen to them
they have seen so much that you haven’t
Like the way you’re face lights up when you see each sunset every evening
Like the way you smile when your dog comes into your room.
Like the way you laugh when your best friend sends you a text
On the first day back to school,
You were happy.
You were confident..
You grinned at the thought of seeing your friends.
You looked at the mirror
And smiled back at what you saw
Comfy clothes which were sort of old, but still popular
You thought it was going to be a good day
An amazing one, even.
And that was the last time that girl was seen for a long
The girl that came back was
On the verge of tears.
You came back in and the first thing you did was
Lift your top and look at your stomach
You thought you were too fat
At school you saw all those girls with those perfect bodies
And you saw you didn’t.
You’re still standing there
When your mum walks in
And you immediately drop your shirt back down
Because you can’t let her know that you’re hurting
Because that would be weak and if there is one thing that you could never admit to,
It would be being weak.
She offers you a snack
Shortbread, orange or maybe lemon
Either way it smells so good
But you adamantly shake your head
Saying you got a snack on the way home
Even though you know it’s a lie
Even though you are hungry.
And a tear trickles down your cheek
You turn away from the mirror
And don’t look back
you don’t leave your room
Even when dinner is ready
Even when your dad needs help
Even though you want to
but you can’t let your parents see your flaws
Because what if they stopped loving you?
You can’t help it
The next day the first thing you do
Is look at the mirror
And lift your top
And you’re face fills with doubt
And you think
Am I good enough today?
Do I need make up?
Should I hide my body?
Or show it and pretend I don’t care?
But you do.
Your mum knocks and says breakfast is ready.
Without thinking you hold your stomach
And it rumbles.
So you say yes, yes you would like breakfast
When you come back up,
You see the mirror, opposite the door.
And you see your body.
Slightly bloated from the food.
And you hate it.
You start to get changed,
Pulling top after top after top out of the wardrobe,
But none are right.
Either they are too baggy-
And you can’t let anyone see that you are weak-
Or they are too tight-
And you can’t let anyone see your too flat chest and that extra pound round the waist that you don’t want-
Or too long-
You must show what little butt you have otherwise no boy will ever like you-
Or too short-
And you’ll have to wear a grotty school jumper.
You finally pick a top
And it’s loose, but fashionably loose.
Now for the jeans.
They have to be the right brand, colour and style
Or you’ll get laughed at.
What did you wear yesterday?
Would they be okay today?
Would anyone notice?
They always notice.
Pair after pair, until you find a pair of loose mom jeans which fit with your top.
Do you wear makeup today?
You didn’t yesterday
But that was before you realised all the popular girls did.
Maybe just a light layer, a bit of foundation and mascara.
It’ll make you look good without making you look like you’re trying too hard.
But, damn, you can’t even do that.
It’s too thick and blotchy.
Just wash it off
So you do and you still hate it.
But it’s half eight and you haven’t done your hair
But you’ll miss the bus,
So you scrape a brush through it
Hoping it will be enough
But knowing it never will be.
You’re at school
And you can’t stop noticing the
Things you never noticed before.
Why should you care that boys don’t stare at you like they do to other girls?
Are you not pretty enough?
Hot or cute enough?
And you can’t concentrate.
Your mind wanders and you find yourself continually staring out the window.
Your teacher coughs and gives you a warning.
The first one you’ve had in a long time
And everyone knows it and they look back and smirk
Is your hair still okay?
Are they laughing at how you look?
You turn beet red and put your head down
Which gets another warning and a detention.
Now pitiful looks are shot your way
And you hate it even more.
You get home late
And your mum wants to know why
Because she loves you because she doesn’t see your flaws
So you tell her that you had a detention
And the look of disappointment on her face
Is just too much to bear
You run up to your room
Without a snack
Because you can’t possibly become fatter than you already are
And just lie on your bed for hours and hours
Ignoring the messages from your best friend
Who knows something is wrong
But could never understand
Because she is so much prettier, thinner and all round a better person than you.
But what you don’t know is that you only see her
When her face is lit up
With laughter that you caused
And that she thinks the same thing about you.
Once again you don’t eat
But this time your mum notices
And brings food up
And makes you eat, even though you protest
And say you aren’t hungry and just why can’t she leave you alone?
And when she does,
You leave your room to go to the toilet
Just to cram your fingers down your throat
And bring up what little food you had in your stomach.
Do the popular girls do this?
Spend the evening worrying?
Or are they just naturally perfect?
The next day
When you wake up
And look in the mirror
You see that you are thinner
And the faint frame of your ribs are showing.
Are you thin enough now?
And day after day after day
You don’t eat
And the ribs become more prominent
And it’s not just your ribs anymore
All just echoes of what you were before
And everyone knows.
They tell you that you’re too thin
Put on some weight.
And your mind just goes in circles
You’re too thin and everyone knows it
But then you’ll get too fat
And that’s one thing you should never be
It’s chaos with multiple voices shouting at you
You can’t turn them off
And if you do what one says,
The other just shouts
No one likes to see your ribs
No one likes to see a fat girl
It just goes
Around and around
In an endless circle, which makes no sense
Except you know that it does not have an end
Unless you create one
Which you don’t know how to do
Because you don’t know what to do
A doctor stares at you
You flinch away from her piercing eyes
But you can’t run
No matter how much you want to
Because you can’t disappoint your mum
Who stands behind you
Even after she noticed your flaws.
She forced you to come here
Because she saw you needed help
And didn’t want to be helped.
Now you’re actually here
With someone who understands what it is like
You still want to run
“Do you want your mum to stay or leave?”
You say without thinking.
Why did you want her to leave?
“Because I can’t let her know what
I am like.
Because I am
She can’t know that or she won’t love me.”
“So you believe that your mum won’t love you
If you are angry”
“Then why are you starving yourself?”
You falter because
You really don’t know.
It started out simple
With the intent of being thin
But it escalated
To something much
That you can’t control
And you can’t stop.
But the doctor knows this
And is just waiting for you to admit it.
So you do.
It comes pouring out in a torrent of words
Filled with emotions
Anger, regret, confusion
Relief, hope, gratitude.
You set goals,
Reasonable ones, that you should be able to keep
But accept that you will have setbacks
When your mum comes back in,
There is a different girl sitting there
One still too thin, but her eyes are starting to become alive again.
You hold out your hand
Say goodbye to the doctor
You eat slightly more that week.
Having three meals a day
Even though they are small
But it is progress, you think.
Each week you see your doctor,
Each week, you eat slightly more,
Each week you become happier,
Your ribs less prominent.
After two months
Two months of eating
And looking in the mirror
To see if, for the first time in too long,
You are gaining weight,
You look in the mirror,
And ask yourself the question that started all of this
Am I good enough today?
And for the first time in too long
Yes I am good enough.