My mother put me on a 1,000 calorie diet at the age of eleven. She had struggled with an eating disorder for as long as I could remember, and I had witnessed numerous fad diets, exercise regimens, and my mother's preoccupation with her own weight, but I had never participated--until now.
My mother could not see beyond the numbers on the scale. She was an addict who struggled daily to get her fix, and like an addict, she left a trail of wreckage in her wake. I am part of that wreckage. My realization that the one person whom I thought I could count on to love me for me---to not ridicule me for what she saw on the outside, to praise me for beauty on the inside-was too obsessed with her outsides to take the time to get to know me for who I was. You see, to my mother, I was simply an extension of herself, and there was no need to go beyond that.
So I didn't.
I took up her preoccupation and became determined to beat her at her own game. Anything she could do, I could do better.
And I did.
But only at the cost of my mental well-being, my childhood, and my happiness. You see, after several hospitalizations and suicide attempts, I have carried my mother's obsession much further than she ever imagined. My mother succeeded in making me thin--but she could not give me back my mental health, my self-esteem, or the freedom to be a child.
We will never be close, my mother and I. I realize, now, that she was the unhealthy one--that her drive to be thin only made her lonely and miserable. As a child, my mother was my god. I wanted her to love me for who I was, but she couldn't, because she was unable to love herself.
And this is what I wish my mother would have said to me when I was eleven, so I will say it to you:
You are not a number on a scale, or a clothing size, or a pretty face. You are your aspirations and talents-your dreams and emotions. You are your beliefs and values. You are the laughter that comes from within your soul, you are so much more..........
Than a set of photos in a magazine.