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Feeding the Monster

By , Winnetka, IL
I was thirteen when I first encountered the monster. He wasn’t the under bed, or in the closet, or even on the blurry television set that sits atop my dresser. He was inside me. And he wanted to take control. Initially, I discounted his snide remarks, distorted imagery, disgusted sentiments. But soon, little by little, I felt myself begin to succumb to his irresistible charm. The monster began to consume me. He fed hungrily off of my insecurities, while at the same time fueling my self-consciousness. I tried desperately to regain the confidence I once had as a happy-go-lucky fifth grader, with braided pigtails and a new striped shirt from Gap Kids--a girl oblivious to the threat of the monster. Alas, innocence eluded me.

So I started counting my calories. It was sporadic, at first. Here and there, mostly only on days when I was less than pleased with the reflection that frowned disappointedly back at me. Each time I caught a glance of myself in a store window, I cringed with shame. Was that really me? Are my thighs really that big?

It wasn’t until my sophomore year that the monster truly took control. He drove my every ambition: thinner, smaller, less. I lost thirty tearful pounds from my already slender frame in the span of just a month and a half. The monster just couldn’t get enough, guilting me for every apple, every carrot, every stick of gum. I soon came to the realization that I was powerless. He had me under the thumb of his demanding hand. I lost all interest in friends, in family, in sports. I slept all day and avoided food at all costs. My hair began to fall out, I stopped getting my period, I was perpetually cold, but all I could think of was the desire to lose more weight. But I was never satisfied. “Who cares if you’re hungry, as long as you’re skinny?” the monster would whisper, his words like ice, digging into my skin. “People will only care about you if you’re skinny. You know I am all you will ever need.”

It has taken years of tireless work to overcome the monster. Most days I still feel his presence, breathing cold air on the back of my neck. “Miss me?” he beckons. “Remember the good times we had? Remember how much better you looked? We can have it all again, all you need is my help.” I will always need to make a conscious effort to ignore the calories, to sequester the monster. It’s never easy, but it’s always necessary. I write this article not to seek sympathy, but to extend a warning to the vulnerable teenagers who fear the hunger of the monster. To those people, I offer only seven words of advice: don’t starve yourself to feed the monster.



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