Trips to the mall and other excursions down memory lane...

I was at the mall yesterday, just browsing while my parents picked out new appliances. I wandered around, looked in the store windows. And I kept thinking, "I would look so much better in that dress/t-shirt/pair of jeans/pair of socks if I were thinner."

Then I stopped myself. Realized this is not necessarily true. And even if it was, there's not a whole lot I can do about it. I'd look better in orange if I didn't have auburn-ish hair. I roll up the cuffs on all of my sweatshirts because the sleeves are too long. I have midget feet. And so on. But that is not to be. It's okay. I'm okay.

I saw these two store clerks standing outside Hollister, looking sexy as part of their job. Like saying "Look at hotties like us who dress in Hollister. Come join us."

Frankly, I'd rather give myself a lobotomy.

With a fork.

A plastic fork.

First of all, I like shorts that cover my ass. Secondly, I'm a little old to be shopping there. Ditto Abercrombie (don't even get me started on them) and Victoria's Secret Pink. I find it disturbing that 50 year old women have sweatpants with "pink" stitched across their behinds. I guess it's not the actual sweatpants that disturb me- it's that they're wearing clothes to feel younger, and to make themselves look younger. Specifically for that purpose. It's okay to be 50 or 60. Seriously.

Then there's the store Forever 21. I don't want to be 21 forever. That year contained more abject misery than the rest of my life up to that point. I spent my 21st birthday in the psych ward. No shots of tequila for this young filly. Nope. I did a shot of Ensure.

Yum. ::rolls eyes::

Then, while I was waiting in line at Starbucks for my iced mocha, I saw these two young girls (around 5 years perhaps) in not-very-fashionable clothing. A HUGE no-no for these parts. They're all Gap Kids when they pop out of the womb. Designer clothing to puke on. And so on. Secondly, these girls had short hair. Thirdly, they weren't thin.

That struck a chord in me.

I had short hair when all of my girlfriends had long. I wasn't exactly the fashion queen. Lots of fluorescent sweatsuits, though I can attribute part of that to the fact that this was the 1980s. They just reminded me of me at that age. Awkward. Unsure of themselves. That kind of inner knowledge that they would never be popular.

They reminded me of, well, me.

And I felt sorry for them. Some mean kid on the playground was going to call her "fatty." Another would tell her she dressed ugly. If she was smart, she would be the nerd, the geek. She would be the last one picked in gym class and develop an undying fear of team sports. She would then retreat inside herself, find solace in books, in writing, in being smart.

I wish that all the self-esteem building in the world could be instilled in young girls. My parents did as well as they could, but when you know you're different from all of the other kids around you, it's hard. Especially when the other kids take great pains to remind you of it every day.

I'm not saying this teasing caused my eating disorder. But the isolation...

One of the lies Ed loves to tell me is that it was good I didn't have a lot of friends. That meant I would have more time to go to the gym, fewer opportunities to have to eat. In public. With food I hadn't personally prepared.

In the end, I've realized that I'm quite different from almost every person I meet, and that's okay. It doesn't say anything bad about me or them or whoever.

It's just one of those lessons I wished I had learned sooner.

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RioIriri said...

Sounds like a day at the mall for me, too. Except, it'd be a green tea frappuccino because I love those things.

The worst part about those kids is that their verbal abuse is going to be condoned by teachers and other adults, because they'll view it as necessary to get them to "get in shape".

I'm just finishing up reading, "Never Too Thin"--and it's really empowering. I had a very triggering incident in the past few days, and burying my nose in that book has made a huge difference.

carrie said...

I loved "Never Too Thin" too. Also "Unbearable Weight" by Susan Bordo. I used both of those for my senior capstone project. And the green tea lattes and fraps are my ALL TIME FAVES, but I needed some caffeine- badly!

Sorry to hear you had a bad me if you want to talk. It's in my profile!

wading through recovery said...

God Carrie, you're so smart.

And, it was like deja vu for me with the lobotomy comment. : )

Katy said...


"Frankly, I'd rather give myself a lobotomy.

With a fork.

A plastic fork."

So appropriate. So insanely, terribly, hilariously appropriate.

Thomas said...

It pains me when people I care about make comments about how much better they would look if they were thinner. These are beautiful, wonderful folks. I wish they could see themselves through the eyes of the people who love and care about them, and realize that there isn't a single thing wrong with how they look.

Also, I hear self administered lobotomies work better with a spork :)

Sarah said...

Wow, this really struck a chord with me. I just came out of a really good therapy session where we discussed how messages from my parents were "imprinted on my hard drive" as a child and I need to work on changing those tapes. It was a very hard discussion because I don't think my parents are responsible for any of my problems, yet I have to admit that a lot of the feelings I have now track with what I heard then.

Thanks for posting this. I really got a lot out of it.

carrie said...

wading and katy,

You know how Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie give group enemas on their new season of "The Simple Life"? Maybe we could do group lobotomies. Oh the fun!


I did think about the spork. But I want to reserve that when I want to pluck out my own eyeball. There are slightly different situations for each. Oh, and your order will be in the mail tomorrow. ;)


Glad you got a lot out of the post. It's interesting how messages, whatever the source, stay with us. Like I was labeled kind of as the "smart kid" and the "good girl." Not that I was never a pain in the ass, but compared to my brother...well, you get the idea.

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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