Sunday 30 November 2014

Chapter Three

“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” – Kate Moss.

I am eighteen and things have improved for me in the last couple of years. I got twelve GCSEs, one AS level, three A Levels and a part time job in shop. I made some good friends, learnt that I really, really like pineapple Bacardi Breezers, kissed five boys and have just got into university to study English and drama. I have ‘blossomed’ says everyone. Apparently I am normal after all. Or at least, I’m doing an Oscar winning performance of my new favourite character: Eve, Normal Girl.

And I have, at last, found my talent. When I was eight, three girls in my class did an adorable little presentation on ‘self confidence’. At the end of it, they gave everyone a tiny piece of paper on which we were to write down one thing we were good at ‘to keep in our pencil cases for when we felt sad’. I remember how I stared at that piece of paper and cried all afternoon because I couldn’t think of anything to write on it. Now I wish I could go back in time and tell eight year old Eve that she was wrong! Because I do have a gift after all: I am very good at being thin.

I’m absolutely wonderful at it in fact. I can put my hand up behind my ribcage, I can hang things from my hipbones (at least I’m sure I could if I wanted to), in a pinch you could use me as a prop in a human anatomy class. I am a self crowned Queen of the Lollipop Heads. Granted, this has its downside. I get a lot of headaches, bruise easily and my periods (which eventually started at 15) have stopped and so I’m concerned about being infertile again. But I don’t care. It’s worth it; when my size six prom dress had to be taken in, people said ‘you’re so lucky’. When I wear a tank top, other girls marvel at my concave stomach and say they wish theirs was the same. In 2004 when you’re a middle-achieving, awkward virgin, skinniness is the great equaliser. Now I can say to myself, ‘hey! I do have something special after all: willpower.’

Of course, this sexless skeleton is more than just a costume. It’s my life’s work. Like all things worth having it takes time and dedication. I know its angles and statistics better than I know my phone number and I am incredibly organised. Taking Weight Watchers as my inspiration, I have devised a points system. I’m allowed 8 points a day, maximum. A rice cake is worth 1 point, an apple is worth two, a yoghurt or a jar of baby food is worth 4 and a slice of toast is worth 6. Coffee, alcohol and laxatives are a free for all. I can earn an extra point with 50 sit ups. It sounds complicated, but actually the beauty of this system lies in the simplicity of its central equation:

More food + less exercise = fatter. Bad.

Less food + more exercise = thinner. Good.

It’s so easy, even I have managed to grasp it. And yet, deep down, I feel certain it’s all unreal. When people comment on my size (some appraisingly, others with concern) I feel like I’ve defrauded them. Somehow, I have convinced everyone that I’m slim when actually I’m not. I’ve lost the ability to feel reassured by what my eyes tell me. I step on and off the scales 15 times to be sure what they’re telling me is true, I count my items in the fridge again and again in case I’ve eaten something and forgotten about it, and I stare into mirrors at a reflection that has lost all meaning.

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