Beauty. She’s so beautiful they’d say to the mother, what a lucky mama to have such a beautiful baby.
But then baby grew up grew confused, angry at not being seen for who she was. Grew fat. You could be so beautiful if only you’d lose some weight, the aunties said. She used to be so beautiful, they whispered behind her back. What happened?
Everyone felt so sad watching beauty sail out to sea.
I held on to her, tried to catch a ride. Tell me what to do, I begged. Don’t leave me. No one will love me if I’m not beautiful.
Well, she said, there are a few rules. Are you willing?
Anything I gasped.
First. You must never ever allow yourself to be hungry.
Yes. If you’re hungry you lose all your chips in this game. Chew gum. Smoke cigarettes. Don’t even look at a steak or fruit. Consider a carrot. Maybe celery.
No buts. Are you in?
Next. Always have a mirror handy so you can check to see if there’s any celery caught between your teeth. That’s ugly.
Ok. Check. Mirror. She gave me a small mirror that fit into the back pocket of my tight jeans.
She sat down, took my hand, gazed into my eyes. And finally…you must never ever ever get fat. Fat is disgusting.
Yes I agreed quickly wiping the sweat off my face. Fat is disgusting.
Do we have a deal?
So beauty unpacked and we set up shop. She showed me how to measure portions and how to throw up after a meal.
But then the diseases. Adrenal fatigue. Tooth decay. Sorrows that had no name. And hungers that drove me out of bed to forage for real food, for the nourishment I’d need to keep me alive. Chicken. Asparagus. Lentils and butter. Sweet potatoes. Moroccan lamb stews. A hunger that screamed to be fed, then wept at beauty’s feet when she threatened, cajoled. Get up! Throw up! Don’t give up!
Go away, I begged. Leave me in peace.
Beauty left her calling card on fridge. She used to be beautiful, it said. I tore it in small piece and swallowed it.
Gelato. Papayas. Mangoes.
You could stop eating, she called as she rowed out to sea.
Not a chance I called back. Coconuts. Bananas. Ripe figs.
Blessings of a kind heart upon you;
Blessings of the eyes of compassion upon you;
Blessings of giving to the earth upon you;
Blessings of the wisdom of the seasons upon you;
Blessings of breathing freely upon you;
Blessings of this moment upon you.
4 thoughts on “hunger”
Lordy, Nancy, this resonates!
I was a reasonably good looking teen, but I had an aunt as beautiful as Elizabeth Taylor and figured those pimples and 10 lbs extra made me worthless.
Now I rarely look in the mirror…all my self criticism is reserved for my soul.
self criticism reserved for your soul? ouch. sending love, Nancy
My Mom & her sister grew up with this tho neither developed bulimia. Mom died far too soon at 63—morbidly obese, insulin-dependent diabetic, congestive heart failure— but her 91 y/o sister, my aunt, when asked how she is still replies “I haven’t started a diet yet”. Mom was indeed beautiful in her teens but my emotionally abusive Dad disabused her of that, breaking her spirit and sending her into downward spirals of eating.
this is heartbreaking. thank you for bringing your mother and your aunt to the page so that we can honor them. much love, Nancy