The Cookie War

December 19, 2010
By , Newark, OH
I was locked in a fierce battle. The battlefield? My kitchen. The enemy? A seemingly innocent sugar cookie, adorned with pink frosting and white sprinkles. Oh, but that mouthwatering morsel, that cute confection was not at all innocent! If I lost this fight, I knew what it would do to me. That little pink cookie would taste delicious, fooling me – if just for a second – into thinking it wasn’t so evil after all. But as soon as I swallowed the last bite, all those creamy, sugary calories would rush gleefully down to my midsection, eager to join the rest of their calorie buddies and begin the sadistic process of turning into fat. I stared down at that cookie, my jaw set. It stared back from the metal baking tray, its sprinkles reflecting the light like diamonds. I loved that cookie, but I hated it.

Rewind ten years, back to when I was five and still dressed in striped leggings and light up shoes and felt like the coolest kid in kindergarten. Everything in life was simple then, either bad or good. Bad was when I curiously poked an anthill, and all the tiny bugs swarmed onto my finger and stung me. Good was when my momma washed my stings off, sat me down at the kitchen table, and bestowed upon me a freshly-baked cookie, oozing melted chocolate down the sides. Ah, for the days when cookies were good, friendly confections, instead of seductive calorie-packed circles, scheming to make me fat.

Now, while I won’t delve into the definition of fat, nor who is responsible for that definition (ahem, the media…), I will say that 6 out of 7 days in any given week, I feel fat. This, I am told, by websites, doctors and books, is not a correct feeling for a fifteen year old girl who is five feet four inches, and 118 pounds to be experiencing. Nonetheless, I experience it on a daily basis. I’m active enough, since I play soccer and run track, and generally work out for an hour six days per week, to stay in shape for sports. For the most part, I eat healthily, and while I’m not overweight by most standards, I have a round stomach I detest, obsess over, and would love to see gone.

The trouble is food. I am personally a big fan of food. It keeps me alive. More importantly, it tastes good. However I am unable to eat anything without worrying about how it will affect my midsection. I’m constantly obsessing, pulling up my shirt and taking a peek at my obstinately thick waistline every time I’m near a mirror. In short, I have a bad body image. It has been the cause of disordered eating, over exercising, and depression in my life. To cure it, I’ve done some research. I’ve read articles outlining step-by-step procedures touted to help one feel completely satisfied with oneself. And in general, here’s how they all went.

Magazine: Pick out ten things that you LOVE about your body!
Me: What if you don’t even like one thing about your body?
Magazine: Don’t you feel better already?
Me: Screw you!

Needless to say, I haven’t benefited from such advice. However, there was one rule about body image I found I could follow: In order to value yourself on the outside, you first have to value yourself on the inside.
That’s what I decided to start with, hoping that as I learn to appreciate my inner qualities, love of my outer ones would follow. So what if stomach was round and my six-pack was perpetually hiding behind a comfortable layer of fat? I worked hard and succeeded at school and sports, as well as helping out my working mom around the house.
I thought about all this as I stood over that baking tray, fighting the ever-present battle in my mind. I decided I was sick of it. No more was I going to feel worthless and ugly and defined by my waist, weight, or one insignificant cookie. I was not going to lie awake in bed and review every crumb of food I had swallowed that day. And I was not going to demonize a simple circle of flour, butter, and sugar.
I reached out to pick up the cookie.
“Um, excuse me,” it said, “you haven’t even worked out today, fatty. What makes you think you deserve me?”
I smiled, brought it to my lips and bit in slowly, relishing the taste.
“What makes you think I don’t?”
The battle, which I once would have considered lost, had actually been won.

Like countless teens across the world, my body image still isn’t perfect. It’s going to take a while to get there. However, I am beginning to look at myself differently. Instead of focusing on the roundness of my tummy, I check out the toned muscles on my legs. Instead of searching the front of my stomach for any signs of emerging abs, I look at my hands, dry and wrinkled from cooking and cleaning for my family.
So if you’re a girl like me, and if you’re still reading, go have a cookie. I insist. A pink one, perhaps, with white sprinkles. Most importantly, know whoever you are, you deserve it.

Eat on, ladies <3

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