through thin skin

An anonymous submission. 

Photo by Sofia Sears 

After careful analysis, I’ve discovered that pool parties serve only two purposes. One, to be used as a social gathering for ten year olds, in which you invite only your bestest friends (or, for that matter, the entire grade) over and spray each other with water guns while simultaneously screaming and busting out the earholes of anybody nearby. The second, and primary reason, for throwing a pool party is to show off your hot bod in a controlled environment, where everyone is forced to stare at, and potentially compliment you. Unfortunately, I could never fully embrace either of these pool party functions (or any act of swimming, for that matter) as my body type is up for interpretation. I relied on rashguards to cover myself, and was pretty sure that I had most people convinced. If it were sunny out, I would simply explain that my mother insisted I wear a swim-top to prevent any insidious, acute form of skin cancer. If the skies were cloudy, I would shrug and reply that I was simply cold.

Early last year, things took a turn for the worse. I heard from word of mouth that by consuming less food, my appetite would shrink, and with it, my stomach. I look back on this moment as my first encounter with the always lovely, Ms. Anorexia Nervosa herself. She guided me through the ordeals of snacks and lunch-times, and became that guiding force that made me put back the burrito and grab a protein bar. I lost a lot of weight, and my BMI dropped down from the 80th percentile, to the 50th. With this shocking new transition, I also stunted my growth. Shit. My pediatrician’s diagnosis felt unnatural and awkward. Here I was, a fifteen year old boy, and anorexic? No, that disease belonged to insecure girls longing for attention and slimmer prom photos. Skipping a meal or twenty didn’t actually classify me under that category, did it? I refused to listen. I screamed at my mom, tried to show my doctor her misdiagnosis, but to no avail. They looked at me with regret in their eyes. Eyebrows furrowed, and with one, clear goal: to fix the fractured, and fragile person who was me. I had strayed off the tracks, it was their job to lift me back onto it. My mother’s face seemed to beg: Why can’t you just take care of your body?

Throughout my sudden downfall, I was ignored. After all, boys couldn’t have eating disorders, could they? No, they were just manorexic, a mocking nickname labeled against them by joking friends. Inside, I died. Did no one else see me? I was an awkward, lumpy, towering animal. I didn’t realize that I had to choose between that perception of my body, and one where you could see the outlines of my ribs. At school the next day, I casually joked about my diagnosis. “The doctor took so much blood from my arm, I almost passed out!” I laughed. One peer looked at me with concern and embarrassment. “Are you okay?” she asked. I shut up.

For those wondering, here is a list of Now:

  1. I see a nutritionist monthly, who basically is re-teaching me how to eat and why.
  2. My parents are constantly telling me to Eat More (so I apologize for my bloated and sluggish behavior).
  3. I still have a gut.

…And I’m still self-conscious about it. So, I’ve decided to deal. And maybe one day, when my growing, hormonal, teenage body has finally reached a standstill, I will learn to love it.

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