She is 17 years old when her body is laid out on the autopsy table. When she is ripped open and stitched back up again. She is given a waxy face and closed eyes and thin pale lips. They lather on the makeup until she is barely recognizable because they don't want anyone to see the child underneath. The speeches are vague and flustered, the tears flow, and with a soft clunk and a few handfuls of dirt, she is swallowed by the earth. Just another statistic.
She is 16 years old when the world goes fuzzy. The next thing she knows, she's in an ambulance with a cord in her arm, feeding her a liquid she doesn't want. With bony fingers she tries to pull it out. She doesn't want it, she tells herself, she can't want it. They told her no. She's not ready yet. But the veil of black covers her face again and now she's sitting in front of a woman she does not want to see. She does not want her help, no one must know about the visitors in her head. Days of therapy pass, with thousands of words being said about nothing. Shuffling down a hall dragging what must be the heaviest IV drip in the world. The baggy size extra small hospital gown does nothing if not expose the fact of her emaciated figure. She didn't want this life. But she deserved it. That's what they told her.
She's 14 years old when the first day of freshmen year comes around. With her bulging backpack and lunch of pb&j and Oreos, she is both nervous and excited. The moment she steps foot in that building, everything changes. She notices open locker doors and boys crowded around pictures of blonde, tan models covered up by scraps of cloth that can barely be called swimwear. Copies of Sports Illustrated are being passed around, but no one is looking at sports. Girls walking around with copies of Seventeen Magazine and hidden cell phones ogle over Zach Efron and Adam Levine and other shirtless men. The rest of the day drags on, becoming longer. Then comes lunchtime. No one is eating. She looks longingly at the lunch her mother woke up extra early to make for her, then tosses it in a nearby trash can. She doesn't really want those Oreos anyways...
She's 13 years old when her best friend gets her first boyfriend. The call comes in on a Friday afternoon amid giggles and shrieks. They talk for a while and then the topic of why she doesn't have a boyfriend rolls around. "Maybe," her friend says, "it's because you don't look the way I do. I mean, he only asked me out because he said I looked like Kate Moss. Maybe you should try to look like her, it might help your case." After a hurried goodbye, the girl puts down the phone. She takes off her clothes and stands in front of her full length mirror completely naked. She stands there and stares for a long time. She brushes away a stray tear and turns to get a look at her side. Suck in, she thinks. More. More. More! Glass flies. Blood is on her foot. She tells mom she tripped.
She's 11 years old when her friends decide to have a backyard photo shoot. They all put on shorts and tank tops like they saw in her moms stack of magazines. They attempt to put on eyeliner but instead opt for lots of mascara and lipstick. Most of the pictures are good, except for the ones of her. The other girls look so much skinnier than her. They tell her she doesn't look the way she's supposed to. She's supposed to look like that smiling runway model on page 21 of People Magazine. When the others go home, she rips up her pictures and flushes them down the toilet.
She is 6 years old when she thinks her mom is Wonder-woman. She crawls onto her lap after a long day of kindergarten. The big thighs and soft sides of her mother make her the perfect person to cuddle. After a long time, she looks up into her mother's face and says, "When I grow up I wanna look just like you because you're the prettiest lady in the whole wide world.”