Friday, May 9, 2014


   I remember when we as children in our elementary science class began to learn about the human body. I was excited, I knew a bit from what I had read in my illustrated encyclopedias; the pictures and diagrams told most of the story, because I wasn't confident enough to believe I could read those big words, though, I’m pretty sure I would have been able to if I had tried. But still, I knew more than most of the kids around me did at that age. 

    I remember we kept it simple, bones, muscles, organs, and we mention briefly that these things are made up of something called cells. I was the first to finish the test, every year, and every year, I received the highest grade. I was fascinated with myself you could say. The human body mesmerized me. I would watch the other kids at recess run and play and I would strip their bodies of their skin and watch the muscles pull and flex beneath them. I ate slowly because I was too busy thinking about the process behind digestion to notice that there was nothing left in my mouth to chew. During lessons I liked to try to see people’s skulls beneath their faces and and try to figure out, was she really that much prettier at the core, or is that perfect ratio of nose to mouth just chance genetics. They would mockingly call me 'stegosaurus' in gym because my spine was so prominent on my back, and I took pride in this.

    I remember one image in particular that stuck with me for a long time, an image in my mind I thought was quite disturbing, but I found it charming none the less. It was an image of a bag of flesh. Like jelly, a human body without bones; unable to move, unable to take care of itself. I tried to imagine how this creature would live, how others would perceive this person, because it was still a person. 

Disgust and horror, were the first words to come to mind. I imagine a perfectly healthy person dropping to the floor like a bag of raw meat as his bones vanish from within him. 
Pathetic slug, I pitied you, but I still wanted to be your friend. 

   As time went on, I lost a bit of interest in it. I don’t like being forced to learn what I already find enjoyable, for some reason that just ruins it for me. I grew out of grade school, out of middle school, out of junior high, those dreadful years; high school wasn't much better. I didn't think much about human anatomy anymore as my age progressed, I kind of forgot.  At this point, I guess, you could say I am considered an adult. Fresh from the orchard, I don’t feel like it. I feel like a kid who’s been left home without a babysitter for the first time and even though you're having fun you’re just forever waiting for your mom to come home. Even though she’s 4 hours away, I wouldn't be at all alarmed if she just walked through the door to my apartment. It would seem completely natural. 

     Either way, here I am, ten years later; and as I look into the mirror I am horrified, disgusted.  Looking back at me I see a bag of flesh, a body that shows no apparent evidence of having bones. Where did they go? I lift my shirt; is that the bottom of my rib cage, or is it the cookie I had for lunch? Is that the crest of my hip bone or is it the burrito bowl I had two nights ago? I know it’s not as bad as it seems. But I hate looking into the mirror and seeing a body without bones. 

     I went to a college party last night. I didn't dance, I didn't drink, I stood in the corner and watched the bones. Collar bones, rib bones, hip bones, cheek bones, shoulder blades, slicing away at my thick thighs like a knife. The pretty blonde standing next to me smiles my way. She’s wearing tiny shorts and a white flowing strap top. Her legs are perfect, her arms are lean, she is tall and graceful, delicate and strong her summer color glows. A boy comes up and asks her to dance, she politely declines his offer. He barely notices me and returns to the dance floor. My black cardigan, my black dress, my black tights, my black shoes, my skin is concealed head to toe and I wore this to hide, so why am I offended? The girl on the other side of the room, though she is considerably larger than me. She is dancing. She is smiling. She is wearing less than me, she is confident, and god damn it, she looks good. Why can’t I just be okay with myself? What is her secret?

     I look into the mirror and I see a bag of flesh. I dream about shaving off my stomach with a wire, like clay it just falls off. I look into the mirror and I don’t see myself, I see someone that people are going to laugh at, someone that has no self-control, someone who has no bones. They tell me that the body image that media portrays isn't realistic. But I've seen it, like big foot or the lock-ness monster, ‘thigh gaps’, flat stomachs, ‘bikini bridges’, it’s all real. It was at that party. I see it every day. I'm afraid my friends are embarrassed to be seen with me because I am no beauty. I'm afraid to order the pasta because I'm afraid of what people will think. I don't show my arms and I never show my legs because I'm afraid I might offend someone with the shape of my body. It has gone so far that I am ashamed of the size of my chest not because it is too small but because it is too big.

              I look in the mirror, and I see a pathetic slug, I pity you
                          and I don't want to be your friend.