"My Lineage is One of Women Shrinking." This Barnard Poet is Everything.
I’ve watched this video probably five times now. And every time I get goosebumps. She understands, and she words it so perfectly, I’m as terrifically awed as the audience.
I am the child of a mom who has dieted for my whole life. She was, too. And, as long as I can remember, I’ve been so fixated on my body’s shape, obsessed with each curve, devastated by any new dimple or newly tightened waistband. And, for so long, it was so easy to write off that obsession as just another part of being a girl, never for a second even thinking I could be furious at its prevalence.
My senior year of high school, I started making myself throw up. I actually even remember the night — my senior homecoming. I didn’t have a date, and I ate a lot at dinner. The two were unrelated, but in my mind they became inextricably tied. So, I skipped the dance, I went home, I threw up. And I kept doing it, every day for at least a year, and intermittently after. Sometimes I’d throw laxatives into the picture, some days popping seven or eight at a time, all because a size 6 seemed like such a big number. Without getting into the less savory details, this abuse has forever limited the way my body is able to work on its own.
I have never, would never, blame my mom’s own fixation on her weight, nor would she blame my grandma, a wonderful, amazing woman who I too heard call herself fat in a tone so disgusted it was as though it was the worst insult one could hurl at one’s self, a tone I’ve taken toward my mirror image so many times it’s impossible to count, because I was probably too busy counting calories, defeated and enraged when it went over 1,500 or so, when I teeter into, heaven forbid, a size 8.
After all, it was just another part of being a girl.
And I hate it. I hate that this has taken over so many of my thoughts for so long. I hate that my mom, the most important person in my entire existence, has devoted so many thoughts, so many meetings, so many tiny, bland meals to, as Lily puts it, occupying less space.
And then I look at the photo on my desk of a smiling, toothy toddler. And I’m terrified.
The cycle of shrinking stops with me. It should stop, must stop, with all of us.
Thank you, Lily Myers, for nailing this so hard that it shook the walls. You are wonderful.