Fiction from Georgia White
I ate no choice food.
On my first day in therapy, the doctors told us we had to separate our eating disorders from ourselves, personalize them, name them, make them something other. But I wasn’t sure if I could yet.
That’s the thing—when the only permanent thing in your body is the shrinking of it, the lines of yourself aren’t quite so clear. You start to mistake your own face for a scrawl on a medical chart. For a little too long I’d let it puppeteer me, wear me like an oversized coat. If you’re not eating the next best thing is to be consumed.
So I read books on it, devoured pages on an empty stomach and I learned that girls like me have two excuses: one, we’re the patron saints of beauty standards, and aren’t all women scared to take up space, we’re just the only ones brave enough to fix it; and two, we’re trying to shrink ourselves back to childhood, and the best way we can think to do it is to claw off our own flesh.
And what was left of my reflection, held in the jaws of a frosted-cold bathroom mirror that listened as I repeated: we weren’t sick. We weren’t sick. We weren’t sick. We were artists, it wasn’t a hospital room, it was a gallery and we were the mousy, mangled sculptures, vitreous dolls in collapsible bodies, and bodies—
Bodies we knew how to keep quiet, but not safe.
And on my second day in therapy the doctors told us we had to separate our eating disorders from ourselves, personalize them, name them, make them something other than what they were so I asked, what are they, and someone said, they’re killing us.
And on my third day in therapy I learned how to answer to a weight index before my own name and count my bible verses in BMIs—Danielle 18.2, Jill 17.5, Alicia 13.1, and me—our sunken cheeks the most divine form of offerings, this is the word of the Lord, and blood spilled on every altar and puked in every bathroom stall, this is the word of the Lord, and every girl who kept stumbling back was Lazarus, still alive, one more day, and we say to the mirror again:
This is my body that I have given to you. I didn’t want it. I don’t think I ever will.
Georgia White is a queer writer based in Berkeley, CA. Her previous work has been published in NUNUM, the Nasiona, and the Santa Ana River Review.