I used to hate the mall.
On the surface, it was just another way to separate myself from other teenage girls (I watch Die Hard! I wear shorts! I watch hockey! I can pretend to be funny! [please love me?]). My high school mall hatred was different, though. It was more passionate. Yes, I could find joy in Christmas lists and record store bargain bins. But “clothes shopping”? The mall rat scene? The bad music, the money, the lights, the mirrors, mirrors, mirrors.
Even the idea made me kind of queasy.
I hated the mall because it was the home of destructive analysis. In middle school, I learned it was a place for measuring yourself. The food court featured conversations about calories. Conversations which eventually turned to numbers and sizes, then to vomiting techniques. I sat and listened. I ate more Taco Bell, silently trying to compensate for my friends who (proudly) weren’t eating.
Then I weighed myself, because that’s what they were doing.
I put an abhorrent amount of value in those numbers. I cried when I saw them rise. I didn’t know that growing teenagers gain weight, that it’s normal. I didn’t know that girls with eating disorders were sick, that I shouldn’t measure myself against their reality. That “being skinny” and “being fat” were stupid over-simplifications.
I didn’t know that. I was thirteen. But man, I hated that mall.
I don’t think much about my body anymore, not like that. My own personal body image just sorta…is, unless I have something to compare it to. I’m pretty sure I look bloated when I feel bloated, and I look healthy when I feel healthy. I love the mirror some days, I hate it other days. Sometimes I care more than usual. I have bad hair days and good hair days, wish-I-were-a-little-more moments, this-outfit-is-cute moments, and (this just in) I-am-way-too-busy-to-care moments.
But I have banned bathroom scales from my home.
There aren’t many rules in this apartment, but that one has stuck.
Body Image is the next Taboo Tab topic, by very popular demand.
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