THE YEAR OF SKINNY POP AND SUGAR-FREE JELLO CUPS,
we guzzled vitamin water and vodka
toasting to high school and survival
complimenting each other’s thigh gaps
trying diets we found on the internet:
menthol cigarettes, eating in front of a mirror,
replacing meals with other practical hobbies
like making flower crowns
wondering why I haven't had my period in months
why breakfast tastes like giving up
or how many more productive ways I could have spent my time today
besides googling the calories in the glue of a US envelope
watching America's Next Top Model
like the gospel
hunching naked over a bathroom scale shrine
crying into an empty bowl of cocoa puffs
because I only feel pretty
when I'm hungry
IF YOU ARE NOT RECOVERING,
you are dying.
By the time I was sixteen, I had already experienced
being clinically overweight, underweight, and obese.
As a child, Fat was the first word people used to describe me,
which didn’t offend me until I found out it was supposed to.
When I lost weight, my dad was so proud,
he started carrying my before-and-after photo in his wallet.
So relieved he could stop worrying
about me getting diabetes
He saw a program on the news
about the epidemic with obesity
Says he is just so glad
to finally see me taking care of myself.
If you develop an eating disorder
when you are already thin to begin with,
you go to the hospital.
If you develop an eating disorder
when you are not thin to begin with,
you are a success story.
So when I evaporated,
of course everyone congratulated me
on getting healthy.
Girls at school who never spoke to me before
stopped me in the hallway to ask how I did it.
I say, I am sick. They say
No, you’re an inspiration.
How could I not fall in love with my illness?
With becoming the kind of silhouette
people are supposed to fall in love with?
Why would I ever want to stop being hungry
when anorexia was the most interesting thing about me?
SO HOW LUCKY IT IS, NOW,
to be boring.
The way not going to the hospital is boring.
The way looking at an apple and seeing only
an apple, not sixty or half an hour of sit-ups
My story may not be as exciting as it used to,
but at least there is nothing left to count.
The calculator in my head finally stopped.
I used to love the feeling of drinking
water on an empty stomach
waiting for the coolness to slip
all the way down and land in the well,
not obsessed with being empty
but afraid of being full.
I used to take pride in being able to feel cold in a warm room.
Now, I am proud I have stopped seeking revenge on this body.
This was the year of eating when I was hungry
without punishing myself and I know it sounds ridiculous,
but that shit is hard.
When I was little, someone asked me
what I wanted to be when I grew up
and I said small.
Blythe Baird is a 19-year-old actress, writer, and feminist. Her work has been published by The Huffington Post, Write Bloody, EverydayFeminism, Button Poetry, and more. She represented Chicago as the youngest competitor at the National Poetry Slam in 2014 as well as the Twin Cities Unified Team in 2015. The past year, her work has gone viral. Her poem Girl Code 101 has been featured in Occidental College’s updated The Vagina Monologues and utilized in academic lesson plans across the globe. She currently lives in St. Paul, MN, where she is a full-time student at Hamline University. Her first book, Give Me A God I Can Relate To, comes out August 31st via Where Are You Press.