Sunday mornings were the busiest in our house hold, mother would wake us up very early.
“Who sleeps on a Sunday morning?” she’d shout.
I was woken up as usual and didn’t have a choice but to do what I was told; cleaning the house. My neighbour, “Peggy” waved hello. We always had our brief chats whenever we could, she was slightly older and wiser than I, like the big sister I never had.
We spoke of last night’s episode of our favourite series; she joked about my weight and warned me that since both my parents had big bodies it was only natural that I would be as well. It really didn’t worry me at that time, but I thought of it as I was cleaning my room. It started to make sense.
I drew up a diet plan for my week right away; little did I know that that was just the beginning of my problems. It wasn’t long until I started starving myself; I would easily skip dinner without my mother noticing.
I would hide my food underneath my studying table, then throw it away the following morning. My cousin would notice during her sleep overs but never asked.
I found myself Google-searching how much a typical South African eighteen year old weighed, and measured myself against it. I tried to ignore how skinny all the beautiful women in magazines were but that’s all I knew beauty as, and so I kept working out.
Whenever I got a second alone I would do a few workouts and measure myself. Everyone started noticing my weight loss but my mother was not having it. She often complained about how skinny I was and yes – it felt like a compliment.
“She’s awake!” I heard a murky voice, there was a sharp pain in my left arm. My body was numb. I tried to make sense of things. I later realised I was in a hospital bed and there my mother was. I had never seen that look on her face before; scared, hopeless but angry at the same time.
The doctor told me that I passed out and my mother found me on the floor. The doctor proceeded to say I was dehydrated, there was nothing solid in my stomach. My secret was out, I had developed an eating-disorder and wasn’t even aware of it.
After a few counseling sessions I realized how silly I was, then I started my own definition of beauty, but the body insecurity issue will somehow always be there.
It’s funny how many memories a picture triggers. Looking back at some of the pictures I took during that time I realised that I looked like a skeleton (chuckles). I just celebrated my 21st birthday and I have a lot to celebrate, I love the woman I’ve become and thank God for my mother.