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Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Make Me Skinny then Make Me Fall This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

By , Solon, OH
When you look into a mirror, what do you see? Do you focus on your clothing, the way your hair looks, the shape of your body? I’ve made the mirror my mortal enemy, because whenever I look into it I focus on my shape. It hasn’t always been that way, though. One of the many things I miss about being little was the way no one cared about how they looked or what they ate. I would sit on the couch with a bowl of potato chips, and run up for a second bowl in a matter of minutes. My parents always made sure we had our fruits and vegetables too, but growing up it didn’t seem to matter as much what I ate. I was also your classic tomboy—I played in the mud with the rest of the boys, and wore a t-shirt and shorts. It wasn’t until the summer of 2012, heading into my sophomore year of high school that I started to care about my appearance. I tried a little bit of makeup and bought some prettier clothes, but the biggest change I made to myself that summer was my body. All of a sudden I felt the need to look perfect, or at least my interpretation of perfect.


The first thing I started with was my diet. I always had healthy things in my meals, but my snacks were fried and sugar coated deliciousness, with a nice drizzle of calories. So those snacks had to be the first thing to go. I trained my mind to reach for an apple or a handful of carrots as an after school snack. My white sandwich bread was swapped with wheat bread, and four cookies soon became two in a little clear bag. At first I thought “This way easier than I thought. All I have to do is not eat junk food!” but I quickly learned that it couldn’t be that simple. When has anything, any change, ever been simple? Slowly but surely, my taste buds adjusted and I didn’t think about eating three servings of those potato chips anymore. I still had some junk food when I went to a party or out to dinner, but at school and at home I tried as hard as I could to make all the right choices about my eating habits. My family and friends questioned the sudden change, and the only answer I could give them was “I just want to be healthier”. I still wonder if that was ever the real motivation in the back of my mind, or if I was caving into the pressures of society.

The next change was definitely harder than switching the bread on a sandwich. I told myself I needed to start working out, and I decided my workout would be running. Why running? I’m not really sure—I was and still am an awful runner. But I grabbed my tennis shoes and tied the laces real tight, and walked outside. It was a brisk summer morning and the sun was just beginning to rise. I thought, “Well if I’m going to try this, at least it’s my favorite part of the day. And I’ll have a gorgeous view! Here I go” and just started running around my neighborhood. I felt miserable and horrible the entire time I was running, and my goal was to get through only one mile. All I could think about was the pang in my chest and the throbbing in my thighs. I kept pushing through, wanting to keep the promise I’d made myself to just finish a mile, since that’s the most I’d ever done. My favorite part of that day was the sunrise, the feeling I had once I’d finished a mile. I was 5,280 feet closer to a healthier me. But how many more miles did I have to go?

Soon my body and mind transformed into a better person with a new lifestyle. My motivation for eating right and exercising was no longer just to look good in a bathing suit, but to feel good about myself. This new way of living gave me a much needed boost of confidence, something I had lacked for far too long. I had more energy, something every teenager needs during the summer, which meant more energy to become a better runner. I started running with my brother, the cross country runner. He actually joined in on my health craze, giving me a sense of accomplishment. I not only helped myself that summer but the rest of my family, because they too started to eat healthier. And the mirror became less of an enemy and more of just an object because I didn’t mind walking past it and seeing what it reflected. Sure, there will always be something that could use a little repair, but I believe that’s a part of being human—nothing can be perfect. That mental image of all the skinny models I had once strived to look like faded into the horizon, a place I would never sail the lengths to meet.
However, as my waist shrunk with my jean size, I found myself wanting to be even tinier than I had already become. The only way for that to happen, I thought, was to not eat as much. Good intentions rapidly turned sour as my portions of all food became smaller, and I didn’t eat anything that could “make me fat”. But the trouble with that plan was that soon, I thought everything would do that to me. So I ate some meat, had some fruits and vegetables, and maybe a few carbs (once in a while). Calories would flash up in my head when I picked up a granola bar, and a ginormous neon sign would go off saying “Oh honey, you can’t eat that! You’ll get fat if you do…don’t throw away all you’ve worked for!” So instead of being healthy and strong, this was the new me. I was tired and cold all the time, and couldn’t run anymore, which was heart breaking because I had really learned to enjoy running. I couldn’t even get through one dance during Music in Motion (show choir) rehearsal. Gee, I could hardly make it up the steps at the end of the day! But I was eating enough to please my parents and to get me through each day, so that was enough. I think the most painful thing of all was looking in that dreadful mirror, which I had made a villain to myself once again, and still wanting…less. Less of what I called “fat” on my legs and stomach, less of this pressure to be perfect, less of this low self-esteem. All I wanted was to be pretty, but I had fallen to the deadly depths of society and all of its glamorous models.
I woke up one morning, astonished by how long I had let this, well, disease go on for. It had been about two months, so by now it was nearing the end of October. For some strange reason I decided to get on a scale and weigh myself. I’d lost eight extra pounds from not eating. How could I have done this to myself? When I looked into the mirror, once again, I no longer saw a fat girl, but a sad girl: one who just wanted to feel beautiful, a girl who just wanted the world to notice her, a girl who just wanted to be accepted by society. But she failed to see that her size never determined her beauty, and never will. If I hadn’t realized this sooner, I could have fallen to a point of no return. But I was still strong enough, though so weak from lack of nutrition, to pull myself up and start again—this time, the right way. My first plan of attack was to go downstairs and just eat something. After a few days of building my body back up with nutrients, I started to feel and look better. I started researching ways to exercise and foods to help my body. I even swallowed my pride (and a granola bar) and studied eating disorders.
The facts that I learned during this uphill battle will never win in comparison to what I took from it: a young girl shouldn’t look to society for whom to be, or compare herself to another person. It’s not going to be easy to start over and change who I became, but I will spend every single day trying. I hope to be stronger than ever, and help young girls who can’t be. Although it’s so important to be healthy, so is being happy. We all need to have some fun every now and then. Just NOT eating, well, that’s not very fun, now is it?



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Ride4LifeThis 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...
today at 10:40 am:
This is a very strong story. Keep writing. :)
 
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