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Contemporary Funny Coming of Age

Monday Evening

Morning Weight: 112 lbs.

Evening Weight: 114.8 lbs.

Calories Ingested: 1,010

Instagram Followers: 86,943


“Just one more,” Virginia ordered.


She’d spent the day at her aunt’s pool across town posing in a string bikini while her ten-year-old sister, Andy, petulantly took photos of her. 


“One more of me on the flamingo float,” she’d instructed Andy as she directed for her minion to grab the raft in the middle of the pool and push it towards her.


“Come on, we already took a million of you on that stupid thing,” Andy had complained, scratching at her mosquito bitten leg.


“Do you want ten dollars or not?” Virginia had threatened her, straightening out her sequenced bikini top that was inching too far to the side. This was Instagram after all, not Only Fans; she had to keep the photos PG.


That evening, Virginia stepped on the scale and glanced down: 115 lbs. She removed her terry cloth robe and stepped on it again. 114.8 lbs. Better. Progress, but not perfect. Not yet at least. She’d eat exactly 900 calories tomorrow. She could do it. She could always do it. She stared at her reflection and admired her makeup. It’d taken her over an hour that morning to apply it. First, she’d airbrushed foundation on. Then, used bronzer on her cheeks, chin, nose, and forehead. Next, blush and highlighter on her cheekbones followed by eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, lip liner, lipstick, brow liner, and a setting spray. It was almost tragic to wash it all away.


She washed the makeup off her face and applied pimple cream to her zit covered chin-a secret so dark, no one knew about it. She threw her hair up in a messy bun and laid down, scanning through the photos from the day. She opted for the one of her posed on the unicorn float. She looked the skinniest in that one. She opened the photo in her editing app and airbrushed her skin to a smooth tan, erasing any blemishes. She levelled out her love handles, accentuated her breasts slightly, and whitened her teeth. Perfection. She posted it. She relaxed in satisfaction as she watched comments pop up.


“Fire emoji”


“Hot”


“Get it girl”


“I want whatever you’re having!”


“How can I look like you?”


Her stomach growled as she fell asleep, clutching her phone to her chest.


Tuesday Evening

Morning Weight: 112.8 lbs.

Evening Weight: 113 lbs.

Calories Ingested: 905

Instagram Followers: 86,956


“You take one of me first holding my green goddess juice, then I’ll take one of you,” Virginia had instructed her friend. 


She’d spent the morning at a juice bar in town with her friend and fellow influencer, Sienna, since Andy was at camp. Virginia had worn a long, white maxi dress and a straw hat. She wanted to look healthy and fresh. Sienna was skinnier than Virginia and prettier which made for a problem, Virginia didn’t want any photos of the two of them together. She’d made the mistake of posting them collectively once and some of Virginia’s followers had actually commented on how gorgeous Sienna was! She couldn’t believe it!


“Okay,” Sienna had agreed as she snapped away vigorously as Virginia sat with her juice in various poses. “Now one together?” Sienna suggested as she’d exhausted every angle she could from her phone. Virginia shoved her juice to the side, not taking one sip. It had 400 calories according to the store, which was half of her daily intake. She’d drink some lemon water at home later.


Virginia had glared at her friend and forced a smile. “I think it’ll be better with individual shoots,” she suggested as she grabbed Sienna’s phone and began snapping away.


That evening, Virginia stepped on the scale and looked down: 113 lbs. She stripped off her terry cloth robe and stepped on it again. 113 lbs. She didn’t understand her body. She’d eat exactly 890 calories tomorrow. She could do it. She could always do it.


Virginia rinsed the makeup off her face and dabbed pimple cream on her zit coated chin. She tossed her hair up in a messy bun and laid down, scanning through the photos from the day. She decided on the one of her toothing the straw of her green juice as she laughed. It looked like someone had said something funny to her, although no one had. Sienna was about as funny as a cardboard box and about as talkative too. She’d just silently snapped, snapped, snapped away in silence which was what Virginia preferred anyways. She opened the photo in her editing app, airbrushed her zits, and whitened her teeth. Perfection. She posted it. She relaxed in satisfaction as she watched comments fly up.


“Love that juice!”


“Hot”


“You look great girl”


“No wonder you look so good if you are drinking green juice!”


“How can I get skinny like you?”


Her stomach growled as she fell asleep clutching her phone to her chest.


Wednesday Evening

Morning Weight: 111.3 lbs.

Evening Weight: 112 lbs.

Calories Ingested: 895

Instagram Followers: 86,977


“There! Grab that one-the owner isn’t looking!” Virginia directed her sister as she pointed towards a cockapoo. Andy grabbed the tan and white fluff ball and shoved it in Virginia’s hands as if it were a grenade.


She’d spent the morning at the dog park with Andy. 


“Hurry!” Andy shouted as her eyes darted around the park, waiting to be caught dog posing with someone else’s dog.


Virginia clutched the dog tightly and held it up to her face, pretending it was a stuffed animal. She wasn’t a dog person, but she wanted to show a softer side of herself to her followers. She needed to show she was more than just a pretty face. She forced a laugh as if the dog had said the funniest thing and arched her neck back, the dog licking its wet tongue on her cheek. She tried not to wince in disgust at its slobber, dripping down her chin.


Click, click, click. Andy frantically snapped away at her phone.


“Done! Hurry and put it down before we’re caught!” she’d yelled. Virginia had tossed the dog down and the sisters hurried out of the park before they were spotted.


That evening, Virginia stepped on the scale and stared down: 112.6 lbs. She tossed off her terry cloth robe and stepped on it again. 112 lbs. She’d eat exactly 880 calories tomorrow. She could do it. She could always do it.


Virginia cleaned the makeup off her face and patted pimple cream on her zit covered chin. She put her hair up in a messy bun and laid down, scanning through the photos from the day. She settled on the one of the dog licking her cheek. The photo appeared like she really enjoyed the dog salivating its disgusting slobber all over her expensive makeup. She opened the photo in her editing app, airbrushed her zits, and whitened her teeth. Perfection. She posted it. She relaxed in satisfaction as she watched comments fly up.


“OMG What a cute dog!”


“Hot”


“How are you so gorgeous?!?!”


“I don’t know what I love more, the dog or you!”


“How can I look like you?”


Her stomach growled as she fell asleep clutching her phone to her chest.


Thursday Evening

Morning Weight: 111 lbs.

Evening Weight: 112.8 lbs.

Calories Ingested: 878

Instagram Followers: 87,002


Virginia had spent the morning by herself since Andy was at camp. This had made it difficult for photos. She’d walked around her house and backyard, searching for a location to take a photo, but couldn’t find a spot she hadn’t already posted. She scanned through her closet and searched for an outfit she hadn’t worn yet but couldn’t find one she hadn’t sported yet. She was out of ideas. She’d begun to panic.


She’d plopped down on the couch and searched through photos of influencers on her phone, admiring their work. They’d made it all look so easy. Was it easy for them? Easy for them to stay thin? Stay pretty? Stay zit free? It wasn’t easy for Virginia. Sometimes, Virginia had just wanted a break. She opened Google and began to scan through models in photos, hoping for inspiration when she came upon an idea. She could always photo shop her face into an old photo of a model. Just this once. What could be the harm in that? She’d decided on a photo from a random German website, which would be safer to trace. It’d taken her all day editing and touching it up to make it look real. It was almost as much work as actually posing for the photo itself.


That evening, Virginia stepped on the scale and glanced down: 113 lbs. She took off her terry cloth robe and marched on it again. 112.8 lbs. This was not good. Not good at all. How could she have gained weight if she ate less calories yesterday?? She would eat exactly 800 calories tomorrow. She could do it. No more playing around.


Virginia washed her face and put pimple cream on her zit covered chin. She put her hair up in a messy bun and laid down. She opened the photo she’d created: her posed in front of a building with her leg kicked up and arm stretched out. It looked real. Really real. She posted it. She relaxed in satisfaction as she watched comments fly up.


“Stunning!”


“Hot”


“A fine looking lady!”


“You are so perfect!”


“How can I look like you?”


Her stomach growled as she fell asleep clutching her phone to her chest.              


Friday Evening

Morning Weight: 110.5 lbs.

Evening Weight: 111.7 lbs.

Calories Ingested: 811

Instagram Followers: 87,010


“Um, that looks like a photo shop.”


“Girl, why does you right arm look like it’s coming out of your neck?”


“Ginny, please don’t tell me you’re a phony”


“PHOTO SHOP! STOP YOUR LIES! YOU ARE MAKING AN UNREALSTIC EXPECTATION OF WOMEN.”


She’d spent the day in crisis mode. Major crisis mode. She’d woken up to bad comments on her photo from the night before. She’d been caught. What does one do when they are caught red handed? Lie? Tell the truth?


Virginia stepped on the scale and looked down: 112.1 lbs. She took off her terry cloth robe and stepped on it again. 111.7 lbs. This was more like it. She’d eat exactly 800 calories tomorrow. She could do it. She could always do it. 


Virginia washed her face and put pimple cream on her zit covered chin. She put her hair up in a messy bun and laid down. She opened her camera and turned it around to her face, snapping a photo. No makeup. No filters. Just Virginia. Pimple cream and all. Her finger lingered over the post button. Did she dare? Dare give them the real her? Show them the truth?


She shook her head and scanned through old photos, finding a single one of just the dog from the park. She posted it. Her followers just needed a day to calm down. Look at the dog. Forget.


“What a cutie!”


“Adorable”


“OMG, I want it!”


“SOOO cute!”


“Is that a cockapoo?”


Her stomach growled as she fell asleep clutching her phone to her chest.        

August 29, 2022 19:20

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33 comments

Tommy Goround
01:27 Sep 01, 2022

Oof. Late to the party. (I thought Scott posted "Team MC" and I was gonna say "Team KF" but my glasses were fogged. Nice use of thriller elements in the details. The weight check are worst than wrestlers jogging in plastic trash bags, Exlax and DIY lipo. Felt for the sister. Like she shared the dream...before camp. Nice flow. Tougher subject matter. Made it to the end though the fear is real. Big claps.

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Kathleen Fine
00:25 Sep 06, 2022

Thanks Tommy!

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Kendall Defoe
01:25 Sep 01, 2022

Wow... An interesting take on body image and social media. And you should read "Unbearable Lightness" by Portia de Rossi (it covers her own struggles with body image).

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Kathleen Fine
00:25 Sep 06, 2022

Thanks Kendall-I haven't read that yet but I love memoirs. I will add it to my list at the library!

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Michał Przywara
21:15 Aug 30, 2022

There's funny bits in this story, but it also seems sad. So much work to maintain an illusion. Near the end, I suppose she starts realizing this and almost posts her real self. Not this time, but perhaps one day - but it does imply character growth. Of course, her followers seem problematic too. Easily distracted, quick to judge. Quick to offer easy praise. "It looked like someone had said something funny to her, although no one had. ... She’d just … snapped away in silence which was what Virginia preferred anyways." I like this. Good lo...

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Kathleen Fine
22:02 Aug 31, 2022

Thanks for your feedback as always Michal! And thank for catching that typo! :)

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Michael Regan
19:54 Aug 30, 2022

A HUGE generation gap - but I was instantly hooked. Very well done.

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Kathleen Fine
22:02 Aug 31, 2022

Thanks Michael!

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Zelda C. Thorne
18:31 Aug 30, 2022

I feel so sorry for her. The repetition was good, the decreasing weight. When will she be satisfied or happy?? Addiction to Instagram culture of perfection is very worrying. Very well written, as always. Good job.

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Kathleen Fine
22:02 Aug 31, 2022

Thanks Zelda!

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H L McQuaid
09:19 Aug 30, 2022

Well done. Poor Ginny, chasing popularity with robotic monotony punctuated by panic. Very clever structure. The repetition pointing out the pointlessness of points. ;) I really enjoyed this, will be reading more of yours.

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Kathleen Fine
22:03 Aug 31, 2022

Thank you HL!

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03:18 Aug 30, 2022

Teen MC👍​ Flamingo float👍​ Structure.. monday to friday diary👍​ Weight scarily going down🤕​ This all works and also gives us an empathetic glimpse into the emotion of addiction in being a social influencer

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Kathleen Fine
22:03 Aug 31, 2022

Thanks Scott!

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Bradon L
00:02 Aug 30, 2022

Very well done Kathleen! It’s sad that this actually real life for some people.

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Kathleen Fine
22:03 Aug 31, 2022

Thank you Bradon!

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Ian T. Smyth
23:28 Aug 29, 2022

I really liked the repetition of her nighttime routine. Great story.

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Kathleen Fine
22:03 Aug 31, 2022

Thanks Ian!

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14:07 Sep 14, 2022

Wow I really liked that story. Great job

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Arilynn Gilbert
01:16 Sep 10, 2022

I totally think you should have won, but gg to the winner.

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Kathleen Fine
21:14 Sep 11, 2022

Aw thanks so much Arilynn!

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Jen La Plante
19:37 Sep 09, 2022

I got secondary (sympathetic) anxiety reading this in the 3rd person. You effectively wrote about her in such a way that we can see the unhealthy, intrusive nature of social media as well as a society that has long pressured girls and women into starvation-level diets to stay thin. Well done!

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Kathleen Fine
21:15 Sep 11, 2022

Thank you Jen!

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Carolyn Brown
15:00 Sep 09, 2022

What a window into a horrible situation. I like how you ended subtly, with the inane gushing over a random dog that didn't comb its hair or whiten its teeth and couldn't care less about followers. Poor woman.

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Kathleen Fine
21:15 Sep 11, 2022

Thanks Carolyn!

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Lily Finch
23:19 Sep 07, 2022

This is definitely complete and a whole story. The irony is that she posts herself as unreal, then contemplates revealing herself, and then opts for the predictable outcome from her picture selection in the end. Having worked with some girls with anorexia nervosa and bulimia, those weight checks are real. Well done! LF6 I looked you up after we spoke. I wanted to read some of your stuff.

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Kathleen Fine
21:15 Sep 11, 2022

Thanks Lily!

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Arilynn Gilbert
18:46 Sep 06, 2022

Oh my- very sad but very amazing!

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Kathleen Fine
21:15 Sep 11, 2022

Thank you Arilynn!

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Daniel Allen
18:00 Sep 04, 2022

This piece managed to both be funny and make a poignant and powerful statement about society. Well done!

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Kathleen Fine
00:25 Sep 06, 2022

Thanks Daniel!

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Mike Panasitti
12:36 Sep 01, 2022

This reminded me of Franz Kafka's "The Starvation Artist," and although written over a century later, Virginia starves herself for reasons similar to Kafka's character. It has also reminded me to break my own fast this morning and practice a little Raisin Bran self care ; ) Great take on the not-so-charmed life prompt.

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Kathleen Fine
00:25 Sep 06, 2022

Thanks Mike:)

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