Who is to blame?

There once was a girl who was asked what she wanted to be when she grew up. She answered skinny and beautiful. The teacher laughed, and said “No, no, as a career.” The student looked confused and said “What can you do as a skinny and beautiful lady?” The teacher told the young idealist to become a model. The girl was overjoyed. She ran home and told mommy and daddy all about her new dream to be a model. They smiled, telling her that was a “cute” idea and that she was such a “darling dear” for having thought of it. 

Years later, she was told by her fellow classmates a harsh reality. You’re fat, they said, you can’t be a model, they said. So she cried and told mommy, and mommy said she would have to lose weight to be  a model. So the little girl got on the scale, and weighed herself. She had a goal to lose just 20 pounds. Only 20, right, she thought. I can do this, she thought. So she started eating healthy. Yumm, veggies and fruits and nuts, no meat. Week after week, day after day, hour after hour, she weighed herself. She dropped 10 pounds fast. The feeling of weightlessness was euphoric. How can one describe the feeling of worth one gains when one loses? It’s a nonsense, yet it’s real and there. Soon she was only eating veggies and fruits, yet weeks went by with no results, and she had to lose that extra 7 pounds she had left. So she cut out everything. Who needs food, she questioned. She knew it was bad for you.. But she would just do this for a little while, she told herself. Besides, she could do what she wanted, no one was going to tell her what to do. 

Whew, no one ever told her how much time she spent thinking about that scale. The pretty scale with the magic number or the treacherous thing with the forbidden pounds back on. Her studies slipped out of focus as food came to dominate her mind. The feeling of worthlessness the mirror revealed was unbearable. But she finally was within two pounds of her goal, and her mom told her for the first time in four years that she looked beautiful and her dad taught her to count her calories, the only thing he’s ever taught her. Her mother even said she’d call the model agency for her if she lost that two pounds. Smiling and hugging her mom, she jumped up and down. Woah, she thought. My head kinda hurts. Food, food, food, I need food. No, no, no, she answered. I’m within pounds of my dreams. 

The next day, she traced the word ‘two’ and the number 2 all over her binders, surrounded with apples and other foods instead of hearts. Walking to each class was becoming painful, and her stomach was crying for food. The nurse saw her struggle standing up and pulled her into her office. When was the last time you ate, sweetie? Standoffish, and guilty too, the girl put her head down and said I don’t know.  The nurse knowingly put her head on the desk across from the girl, stared in her eyes, gently patted her arm and whispered “When was the last time you weighed yourself, dear?” The nurses kindness broke the confused doe down and she began to sob and choke out her story in between gasps and the nurse came around and let the girl cry. This poor girl, thought the nurse. But who is to blame? The girl or the home she grew up in, with the parents in charge of it, living in a neighborhood with impossible ideals, which is encompassed in a society surrounded around self-image. Who is to blame? 

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