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Acting the Part This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


I could feel the judge's eyes on my face as I analyzed my body in the mirror.

Good. I look skinny. My stomach looks flat. Wait, is this me thinking, or my character?

I finished my piece and bowed my head. It was over. Is it really over?

I should have known better than to choose a character so close to myself. I didn't know if I was strong enough to pretend it was only make-believe.

I had played a girl whose boyfriend died, and one who was sexually abused by her stepfather. Those characters were so unlike me that it hadn't affected me that much. But this one was different.

I've competed in dramatic monologues for three years. I love the challenge of trying to make the judges feel my emotions, to cause shivers to climb their backs, and to make them cry when I reach my breaking point. I tried so hard not to let this character consume me. I had always been very careful in the past.

I've battled with my body since I was 12. I weighed 63 pounds and was grossly underweight. The disgusting thing that I could never forgive myself for was the fact that I liked being underweight. I liked to see my hip bones stick out against my jeans. I enjoyed feeling the deep indentations above and below my collarbones. I was happy that I fit into extra small shirts and jeans. It seemed to be the only thing I could control.

It would have been so much easier if my body hadn't fought back. I told myself if I could just throw up, I could eat again. But my body wouldn't listen. At the age of 12 it learned to resist.

I tried everything. I stuck my finger down my throat after lunch. When that didn't work, I tried my toothbrush. When that failed, I'd collapse into a puddle of tears. I prayed and hoped something would change, that my body would stop fighting the fate that my mind had already given in to.

I was eating breakfast, and that was about it. Sometimes I would go through the motions and buy the school lunch. My friends never noticed I didn't eat it, or if they did, they didn't say anything. This was my choice; it didn't involve them.

Five years later I ­considered myself a ­recovering anorexic. I hadn't skipped a meal in months. I was done starving myself. If I didn't think about it, I wouldn't worry about it. The problem had gone away on its own.

Or so I thought. But then that monologue changed everything. Something happened. It felt like it had chosen me. It wanted me, and I wanted to do it. I focused on it for months. I studied the words and the mood. I practiced the tone and movements that would make it seem natural.

It wasn't a particularly strong piece. As I tried to memorize it, I realized something didn't seem right. It finally struck me that this monologue had been written by someone who clearly had not been through the hell I had just crawled from. They didn't know what it was like to be anorexic!

So I rewrote it. I wrote it so it fit me, perhaps too well. It was me.

I became as obsessed with that piece as I had been with my weight. I worked on it feverishly until it consumed my life, and along with it came the old lifestyle. I fit back into anor­exia like I was a piece of the puzzle. I hadn't realized how much I missed the comfort and familiarity of starvation. I hadn't realized how much I loved it.

Soon I was back to my old habits. I quit eating lunch and pushed my dinner around the plate. If I could only smell the food, I would be as full as if I had eaten it.

The regional competition came and went. Many judges and participants told me I fit the character so well. They told me that if I wasn't pretending, they'd cart me off to the hospital that second. They said it was very believable. They had no idea how right they were.

The turning point wasn't until weeks later. I had been successfully starving myself for months. I had lost all the weight I gained during my remission and was hovering a few pounds over 100.

Competition was about three hours away. When the bus stopped for lunch, I had fries. We got pizza for ­dinner, I had a salad. I was completely com­fortable.

I woke up the morning of the competition completely disoriented. I was dizzy and nauseous. Funny, I hadn't had this feeling for months. I must not have been paying attention, because I actually ate breakfast. I was so completely out of it that I didn't know what I was doing.

On the bus I finally realized why I still felt sick. Usually the nausea went away after a glass of milk for breakfast. I cursed silently as I realized I had eaten. I had slipped up and now my body wanted more. It wanted to eat again. How could I have done that when I needed all of my concentration to compete and do this monologue at my best?

I could feel the judge's eyes on my face as I analyzed my body in the ­mirror.

Am I really that skinny? I hope they don't notice how pale and fragile I look. Why do I have so many bruises? Is that really me?

It's like that mirror could see the ­real me. I was standing up there in front of the judge, and this mirror showed how I really looked. The clothes I had chosen to accentuate my fragile body, showed it too well. My narrow hipbones jutted out and my collarbone stood out half an inch. My bony arms wrapped around my narrow waist. What had I done to myself?

Finally, after five years, I saw what I really looked like. I looked horrible. Why didn't anyone say anything?

That moment will probably stick with me for the rest of my life. I hope it never fades. If I hadn't seen what I did, would I still be starving myself?

I'll be the first to admit that I am not perfect. I still have tendencies that ­occasionally show themselves. I sometimes forget to eat lunch or dinner. I still weigh myself five times a day, but that's better than ten. I still obsess about having a flat stomach, and I absolutely hate moving up a size in clothing. I still have my “ana notebook” of quotes and pictures, but I don't need it anymore. I finally came to the realization that I can be me. It finally came to me that I don't need to be skinny; I just need to be healthy. No one cares if my stomach is flat and my waist is small, they just care that I'm alive and eating.

It doesn't matter what others want. It matters what I want, and I want to graduate high school and college and have a family. I want to have a life, and it feels wonderful.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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This article has 17 comments. Post your own!

FaeNotMyNameThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jul. 24, 2012 at 7:39 pm:
I can empathize with your experience and I enjoyed reading this. But I suggest that you throw out the ana notebook. If you don't need it anymore, you don't need the comfort of it, and it would be so LIBERATING to just toss it, you know? Good luck with everything <3
 
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reenay_95 said...
Mar. 29, 2011 at 9:50 pm:
this was SUCH a good piece. the plot was sooo good and spoke your feelings so well.
 
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SpringRayynThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Dec. 31, 2010 at 11:22 pm:
I know how you feel, at least at the beginning. I like this article a lot.
 
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apocalyptigirl said...
Sept. 12, 2010 at 5:54 pm:
wow. I have never understood anorexia before and this article made it real...I act and I know what it's like to lose yourself in a character. This was really well-written! Awesome!
 
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deadgirlwalking said...
Jan. 8, 2010 at 2:50 pm:
wow, this almost brought me to tears. i have anorexia too, and i hate myself everyday for not eating that last bite, or just doing a few more sit ups. i made a promise to myself that this year i would stop being anorexic, but i don't seem to be getting anywhere. i'm not getting worse, but i'm not getting better. i'm stuck, and i hope some day i can recover. this article really made me open my eyes. thank you
 
ThisLitIsBananasThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
May 3, 2010 at 4:05 pm :
I really hope you recover, both of you. Be strong, girls. Remember you are beautiful. Wonderful article <3
 
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appaloosa14 said...
Nov. 15, 2009 at 7:34 pm:
wow. this story is so true. grate job.
 
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Hay_Wire This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 25, 2009 at 7:22 am:
i know.
 
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Theresa This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 2, 2009 at 3:39 pm:
This was really compelling and well-written.
 
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TiffbutterflyWing said...
May 28, 2009 at 2:33 am:
Very well written. it was different from other anorexia accounts i've read. I liked how you could control it more than some other girls and recovered on will power. it showed a different side to the disease I think and how lots of girls do it solely to be thin. really interesting. thank you.
 
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i<3you said...
May 23, 2009 at 10:13 pm:
congrats on your big realization! I am proud you were able to do that. Nice work on the piece, as well!
 
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LilMissMe said...
Dec. 22, 2008 at 5:40 pm:
wow, this was REALLY powerful. And may I personally congratulate you on overcoming this thing. Still I'm sure that really spoke to a lot of girls out there who struggle with their bodies. This was fantastic!!
 
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Sunnysmiler717 said...
Dec. 22, 2008 at 4:00 am:
I absloutely love this story. I struggled with anorexia for years now and this story made me realize my wrongdoing. I love it, really! Thank you so much!
 
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hugsandsheep said...
Dec. 21, 2008 at 10:28 pm:
this writing really speaks to a recovering anorexic/bulimic. I really appreciate your contirbution to people like us. its hard for others to understand and I think you did a great job putting those feelings into words. thanks Lindsey :)
 
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puresoccer said...
Dec. 20, 2008 at 5:45 am:
except...thats not how she's saying it. that's how it is. you did do an excellent job though. i feel like i know your monologue from reading this.
 
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amberlene10 said...
Dec. 20, 2008 at 4:05 am:
i love how raw
 
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(y2k 11) said...
Dec. 1, 2008 at 11:07 pm:
I love how you give the disease it's own personality...How you say that you missed it as if it were a person and thow you loved it.
Great work!
 
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