High school is seldom the high time of anyone’s life. You experience adolescence, begin to understand the harsh realities of life, and realize the burden of incoming responsibilities. Social norms and family law emerge with a completely new meaning. Nonetheless, it is peak time to enjoy life, discover yourself, and make mistakes to learn from. I’d say my high school experience was as typical it can be. My parents were far from daunting, and I had a nice group of friends to hang out with all the time.

I was always on the chubbier side, and I was okay with the way I looked. I was nowhere near the perfect body standards defined by media and society, but it did not bother me until a certain point in time. I was casually hanging out with four of my closest high school friends at the mall on a weekend. Skinny jeans became exceedingly popular around that time, so we checked them out.

I remember holding up a pair and asking my friends if I should get them. I was hit back by a snide remark from one of my friends, Jessica. She said that skinny jeans were better suited for skinny people, and that was followed by a giggle from my friend Chelsea. It was nothing serious as we fooled around with each other like that all the time. Another pal name Miranda passed a comment regarding how uncomfortable skinny jeans were and dragged me towards an aisle of yoga pants.

That day when I got home and looked at myself in the mirror, I hated what I saw. It was the first time I associated myself with adjectives like ‘fat’ and ‘ugly’. I cried for half the night, and then decided I had to lose all those extra pounds. I started skipping meals and barely touched my food while eating with friends or family. At first, no one seemed to notice and eventually everyone perceived it as normal behavior.

My parents assumed that becoming body conscious was part of growing up, and neither did my friends see that I was practically starving myself. I was effectively shedding weight, but my health was deteriorating. I was always tired, and constantly fighting the urge to binge on something scrumptious. Soon came around my 18th birthday and a huge surprise party was thrown for me. My dad brought home my favorite fudge cake, and I burst into tears. Everyone was shocked, but thought nothing of it after I told them that I was just so happy and overwhelmed.

I lost control that evening and ate everything I had been craving for months. Later I felt disgusted and guilty, so I looked up ways to throw up. Eating anything I wanted and then getting rid of it via laxatives seemed like the perfect solution; it became a habit. Despite being aware of how dangerous it was, I did not abandon this criminal practice.

Shortly, I left for college and started living independently. My eating disorder got worse while I was on my own. I could purge all I want and go days devoid of solid food, without anyone noticing. Then one day I fainted while I was studying at the college library. I convinced the campus doctor that I was totally fine and skipped breakfast that morning because I was running late for class. The girl who usually accompanied me to class mentioned that I was too thin and looked sick sometimes.

No matter what people said, I felt unhappy with my body and wanted to lose more weight. I went to see my parents in the summer, and they were traumatized because I was literally skin and bones by then. A lot of my hair had fallen out, my skin was bad, and my nails had become brittle. They realized what had happened and we had a long talk. I later ran into Jessica who was also home for the holidays. She too was stunned by my appearance and teasingly asked me if I was anorexic; it was pretty ironic if you ask me.

My parents wanted me to seek professional help, but all I really needed was some moral support. We looked at my old photos, and I realized how beautiful and healthy I was back then. My mother told me that I was still beautiful, and the only thing I lacked was ‘love’ for myself. That summer with my family was a wonderful start to my recovery. I have stopped skipping meals and quit self-induced vomiting. I try to eat healthy and concentrate on my wellbeing before anything else.

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