I remember the first time my mom called me fat. Her words shot through me like bullets. Hard, cold, unforgiving bullets. That was the first time I ever saw myself as ugly. I was 10. As a kid, I had always been overweight, but I didn’t care. I knew how to have my cake and eat it too. And then ask for seconds. I remember the first time I told my friend I was going to become an anorexic. I don’t really know if I said it for the shock of it or if I were really serious. I just remember the words spilling out of my mouth, not being able to stop. I was 13. I hated my body. I couldn’t even look in the mirror without wanting to throw-up. I was just so disgusted with myself. And I don’t even know why. I remember not being able to look at myself without finding something I wanted to fix. And I still can’t. I stare at myself in the mirror for five minutes before going to school each day. My dad teases me and thinks that I am doing it because I am admiring myself. Little does he know that I am adding every detail of my presence to a list of things I hate. Thinner thighs, smaller waist, flatter stomach, clearer skin. How many minutes on the treadmill will it take to help whittle down these love-handles? How many reps on the weight machines to get rid of the bat wings? How many hours on the elliptical to create a flatter stomach? I remember the first time I tried to make myself throw-up. I was 14. I wanted so desperately to see the weight pour out of me along with the self-hatred, sorrow, and loneliness that was infesting my body. I remember hunching over my bright-blue toilet. The handle of my tooth-brush, halfway down my throat. Gagging and gagging, but nothing ever coming out. I gave myself one last try. One last chance to lose the weight once and for all the right way before going to the last resort. We’re surrounded by the media 24/7 whether we like it or not. And at the same time we’re surrounded by all of these campaigns that support natural beauty and body peace. They think they’re helping us. They’re not. They’re only confusing us more. So we’re not supposed to be super-skinny but at the same time we’re not supposed to be fat because that’s unhealthy. We’re not supposed to wear make-up but we’re supposed to take care of ourselves in a way that makes us look put together. Nobody should expect to be a size 0, 2, or 4 but at the same time we should try not to be a size 6, 8, or 10. It’s just- it’s just so much. The slow road to insanity for us byproducts of the media. I mean that’s what we are. Pawns. The beauty industry doesn’t care about us. They don’t create these beautiful ads to make us feel exactly that- beautiful. They just see numbers. Sales. They just see Sarah Jo as five dollars and ninety-nine cents. Not a girl who bought her first tube of red lipstick without her mother knowing because she wants to fit in with the popular crowd. And I guess you can say it’s pretty messed up that we’ve bonded over exercise tips, low-calorie snacks, and weight loss secrets. We always will as long as there’s a magazine in print and a cold, gray suit behind it making the decisions on what women should look like. Is it our fault for wanting to be the 5’10, 110 pound, size 0 goddess staring down at us from ads and billboards? Or is it your fault for showing her to us in the first place? She ridicules and mocks us, silently mouthing You’ll never look like me and we scream for her to stop. We scream and scream, but you never hear us. I don’t remember the first time I thought I was beautiful. That’s because I never did. I am 15. Sure, if I never opened a magazine, or turned on the T.V., or went outside in general, I would love the way I looked. I would embrace every pimple and pound with loving care and pride. But how could I love that? I can’t- not when I know what perfection looks like. People always say teenage girls are just so messed up. And I guess we are. But we sure as hell have a reason to be. But behind all of that PMS, angst, and self-pity, there’s the fat 10 year old hiding in a now-distant memory. She is being shoved to the side by the fifteen year old who doesn’t even know who she is yet. Who she wants to be. All she knows is that she just wants to be loved. Lusted after. Adored. We just want to be accepted. Not for who we are but what we pretend to be. Not for what we had but what we’ve created. We don’t want to be happy. We want to be beautiful.