If you look back far enough you can see it coming.
Red lipstick stains on soda cans, mouth pressed tightly so they could never see that you weren’t swallowing.
After dinner bathroom breaks that were always spent with the tap conveniently on full blast.
Offers of popcorn and Pringles and muffins routinely declined because you had always “unfortunately” just eaten.
This was all done again and again, measured against a scale and if the results weren’t adequate you just tightened the schedule, increased the dosage.
Subconsciously you had always blamed your mother. She was both the cause and the symptom of a generation of women who were taught the best they had to offer could be seen in the white of their smile, the length of their long skinny hairless legs. Consciously, you always blamed yourself; for being unable to put down the fork after the fifth time it had entered your mouth, for thinking that your fries needed ketchup – for thinking that you needed fries at all.
You may be smart and you may be brilliant. But the world didn’t want or need you to be any of those things, it wanted you to be pretty. And what was prettier than a stomach gradually caving in and thighs that didn’t even brush against each other when you walked?
What was prettier than each calorie obsessively measured by an app before you even risked buying it? What was prettier than purging your stomach of all of its contents if you thought that you had indulged more than absolutely necessary? What was prettier than no carbs, no sugar, no meat, no fat and no dairy? What was prettier than restraint?