"I'm not going to watch my daughter kill herself! You are going to that center whether you like it or not!"
"Mom, you're overreacting. I'm fine!"
"Being 5'2" and 75 pounds is not fine! I'm not even sure how you're still alive. You're literally hanging by a thread!"
Shredded pictures of skinny girls from magazines are piled up on Megan's bed, pictures she idolizes to be. She sits there with tears streaming down her face like a waterfall. She shuffles in front of her mirror and gazes at what everyone sees as a skeleton but in her mind, she sees an obese girl.
She stumbles to the bathroom floor with a blurry vision, kneels down, and let's all her insecurities out and flushes it away. It's been months since Megan held anything down. She only allows her brain to focus on calories and body goals. The words "eat less to reach your goals" is embedded in her brain. Friends and family can clearly see the problem but her eating disorder is wrapped around her eyes like a shield protecting her from the truth and only showing her lies.
It all started when Megan wanted to lose weight for the summer. All her friends were going to the beach the first day and she was already insecure so she decided to ask her best friend Jen for some tips.
"So you're definitely coming to the beach with us, right?"
"Yeah...." Megan exclaimed with a long face.
"What's wrong? And don't say nothing. I know something is wrong because of your facial expression."
"It's just that I want to lose some weight quickly so that I don't look fat in my bathing suit."
"Oh, I can help with that." Jen's smile spread across her face as she grabbed Megan's hand to drag her to her house. When they got there. they ran upstairs and went straight to Jen's bedroom. Her front door had her name written on it in blue glitter. When she flung the door open, her queen-size bed laid in the middle of her room, and on the left side of the bed she had a dresser with a blue lamp and on the right side she had a desk with a laptop on it and on her wall hung a plasma TV.
"Okay, I'm excited that you came to me. There's this site that gives you these awesome tips and tricks to lose weight. They even have inspirational quotes to keep on going."
Jen typed in "Proana" and a bunch of websites came up. She clicked the first link. Immediately, a mass of images of skinny girls came up, hip bones poking out, and rib cages proudly protruding out of their bodies. Jen's mouse hovered over inspirational quotes, then shifted down to tips and tricks.
"Drink a full glass of water before you eat and then sip a full glass between bites; you'll get full much faster. Remember it takes 20 minutes for the brain to realize the stomach is full." Jen read this from the site. They continued on exploring the site together and by the time Megan got home her head was filled with "thinspiration."
By the time summer came around, Megan exceeded her goal she had set. Megan was 120 and she wanted to be at least 110. By the time summer started, she was 108. When she went to the beach, her friends filled her head with nothing but compliments. Her best friend Jen pulled her to the side and together they congratulated each other with smiles pressed across their faces.
"I told you it would work and you look great. So now you lost all that weight. Are you going to continue?"
"You bet I am. I set a new goal to be 95 pounds," Megan said with a twinkle in her eye. That day forward Megan was no longer the fifteen-year-old happy-go-lucky girl. That girl was gone, sucked into a realm where only the scale determined her happiness and there didn't seem to be a way out...
Sweaty palms, stomach pains, and trembling legs crash down in front of the toilet. Her mouth opens like a gaping hole and every food she has devoured throughout the day shoots out like a volcano erupting. She flushes it away and then she goes to the mirror to inspect her progress. After about 30 minutes of pinching her non-existent stomach, she decides to weigh herself. She steps on the scale and waits for a moment until a blinking number appears. The air feels like it has been sucked out of the room. 82.5 pounds is the final number that appears on the scale. Tears come crashing down to the floor. She rips her clothes off and gazes at her body. Her ribs protruded from her body now and you can see her vertebrae. There is a gap between her thighs, and both her arms and legs are stick thin. But in her mind, she saw a flabby-armed, enormous-thighed girl with a huge stomach staring back at her. School started up again and Megan was excited to hear everyone compliment her on her weight loss.
The sun started to peek out from the clouds. It was a bright beautiful day outside and Megan had her best fit on. Her hair hung down in a beautiful braid, she wore a shirt that had the design of paint splatters all over it, and had on a pair of white shorts. Megan was able to wear white without having to worry about her "friend" visiting because she hasn't visited in months... The bus came to a screeching stop and Megan hopped on. Within a few minutes, she got a ton of compliments from her friend's Jennifer and Stacy.
The bus finally arrived at school. Immediately, Megan's palms became sweaty as she walked through the crowd of people that were reuniting with their friends they haven't seen since the previous school year. She finally reunited with her best friend.
"Oh my God! Look at you! You lost so much weight," Jen said.
"Do I look bad?" Megan exclaimed with a want of acceptance in her eyes.
"Are you kidding me?!?! You look fantastic. I guess me showing you that website paid off."
"Yes, it did and I can't thank you enough." Throughout the day, Megan received nothing but compliments from friends and even strangers. Little did they know that Megan was losing all this weight in a very unhealthy manner.
The next morning, Megan woke up with clumps of her hair on her pillow like a present. She scurried to the bathroom and started to run her fingers through her hair in shock that, in fact, it indeed was falling out. Clumps of hair started to cover the bathroom floor. In a panic, she made up a lie that she didn't feel good so she could stay home. Her mother believed it and offered to stay home to take care of her but after a mini-argument, she headed off to work.
Once her mother was gone she went to the Proana website, which was now the first thing that popped up when she logs into her laptop. Her mouse goes straight to the group chat where she used to post her progress proudly. Now with trembling hands, she types on her keyboard what just happened and several comments came flooding in. All not what she was expecting — several gave her tips on how to tell your parents that you have an eating disorder and you need help. Others — more useful, in her opinion — on how to hide it and to remain calm because it happened to them before, too.
But as she continued to read through all the comments, she came across more and more comments that advised her to get some help. Something inside of her snapped, an inner voice screamed no, and made her slam her laptop shut and rushed her to the bathroom, making her throw up everything until she was completely empty. She stumbled to her room afterward and passed out on her bed.
She wakes up to beeping machines and her mother saying, "Thank God."
"Hello, Megan. I'm Dr. Mitchell."
"H... H... Hello. What am I doing here?"
"Well, this is hard for me to say but, Megan, after a long inspection and running some tests while you were asleep, we came to the conclusion that you are suffering from an eating disorder. We believe you're anorexic...."
The room began to swallow Megan whole as her body became numb.
"I know this is a lot for you to take in, but due to you not eating properly your body started to shut down, which is how you got here. But I think that if you were to go to this center it could really help you."
Dr. Mitchell handed Megan a pamphlet that had a before and after picture of girls with an eating disorder..... Half an hour later, Megan was released. Her mother drove the rest of the way home in silence. But once they got home, her mother broke down in tears.
"I’m not going to watch my daughter kill herself! You are going to that center whether you like it or not!"
"Mom, you're overreacting. I'm fine!"
"Being 5'2 and 75 pounds is not fine! I'm not even sure how you're still alive. You're literally hanging by a thread."
"Mom, I'm going to be fine!"
"I don't want to hear that!" Megan's mom went straight to her room, grabbed her suitcase and went to Megan's closet and started to pack her clothes.
"Get some rest because tomorrow you are going to that center bright and early!"
Megan slammed the door to her room and went to bed.
The next morning Megan started her first day at the center. On her first day there, she met all types of girls that were going through the same thing. The first day they sat in a circle and went around the room introducing themselves and explaining how they became anorexic. All the girls had similar stories. Most of them said that they did it because they needed to find something to control or due to society's standards, they didn't like what they saw and wanted to change it. When it finally came to Megan's turn, they all began to understand.
"Okay, introduce yourself and then tell us how you developed an eating disorder."
"Hello, my name is Megan, and I thought that just like many of you that if I starved myself enough I could be happy and I always thought that the reason I wasn't happy was because I didn't like my body. But I came to the realization that I was just tired of being invisible... I mean, when have you ever seen someone ignoring a skinny girl?"
Six months passed by and Megan was released. Megan was doing great and her relationship with her mother got better, too. Her mother knew they still had a long way to go but she finally saw the light. Until Megan's mom got a boyfriend.... and it became all about him.
Megan swiftly slides to the bathroom door one day when he came over for dinner.
"I'll be right there..."