A Woman's Struggle This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   I stared at the English muffin on my plate then glanced around the room. My parents were both watching television in the living room, paying no attention to me. So, as I had done every morning for the last four months, I wrapped up my breakfast in paper towel without taking a bite, but still careful to leave a few crumbs on the plate so it would appear as if I had and placed the wad of towel at the bottom of the garbage can. I had gotten through breakfast safely.

I hated doing that. I had promised myself the night before that I would put an end to all this nonsense and self-deprivation in the morning, but, of course, I said that every night. I still woke that morning, cried for an hour, and then let the disease take over, making sure to go about my day eating as little as possible.

It was a mystery to my parents that I continued losing weight while I seemed to eat an almost normal diet. They did know, of course, that I was anorexic. That I could not hide from them, though I tried. My true deception came at meal time when I would either throw away my food, untouched, or chew it up and then spit it out when no one was looking. I counted calories meticulously. Two-hundred calories was a "good" day. More than 500 was, to me, unacceptable. Food was obviously the obsession, but not the main issue.

Anorexia is not a disease in any normal sense of the word, but, in a way, it is a cancer. The tumor develops in the mind and spreads to affect every corner of thought and manifests in an obsession with food. The "tumor" may be a result of anything from a lack of control over the events in one's life to a childhood trauma. This problem is widespread, but its many victims tend to be women. We may ask ourselves why women are the target of this terrible disease and why it even exists, but we all know why. It is because of the characteristics that our crazy, backward society value. Who are the most rich and successful women? Are they doctors, teachers, or lawyers? No. The females held in the most esteem are the tall, skinny models. You see them all over, gracing the covers of magazines, plastered on billboards, and just about everywhere you look.

It is only logical that an anorexic's outlet for pain, hurt, and rejection would be aimed toward this "ideal" in an attempt to acquire the disappearing waist and skin-and-bone body frame. Many girls go too far. Women will never attain an equality with men if we go on this way. Even the most successful women make weight loss an all-important goal. Instead of simply valuing their accomplishments and setting realistic goals, women look to the perfection, to the smiling cover girl who remains nothing more than an image to most.

Since recovering from anorexia two and a half years ago, I've learned to value what I have and can do and pity the empty beauty whose physical perfection is the envy of all, but whose thoughts, feelings, and mental ability nobody cares to discover. I no longer purposefully deceive my family and destroy my health. I'll never forget my daily pain, but, like almost all women, the food I eat and body shape I maintain remains a concern. However, I'm not obsessed anymore. Many are. Many die. c


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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