Trigger warning: this piece refers to eating disorders.
Childhood summers full of gap-toothed grins,
Full up bellies and orange juice dripping down our chins.
Afternoons spent playing till the sun dropped low,
as kids fun and games are all we know.
Then winter seeps into our sky, scaring away the sun.
The cold ice there to signify the age of innocence now done.
Shrugged on like a coat too big that it swallows us, knobbly knees and all.
It’s here, shivering in our newfound darkness that we learn to crave being small.
Alongside winter, distorted voices tiptoe their way into our space.
Conditioning us with warped behaviours on who and what to praise.
Cultured to find comfort in our bodies hollowed thin.
Believing that our value goes no deeper than our skin.
When whole worlds lay untouched in the caverns of our soul,
But we give that all up for the illusion of control.
For calorie restriction and the ideal portion size.
However, it’s not the food but our lives we minimise.
When the protrusion of our ribs boasts perfect emptiness.
We routinely allow ourselves to be corseted into less.
We’re desperate to escape but those voices block the door.
So, knees stay glued to the lonely bathroom floor.
And gun-barrel fingers shoot bullets down our throats,
Vainly trying to fit the standards that society promotes.
Leaving our poor bodies battling in a war they never sought.
Wondering why we’d ever accept the toxic lies we’re taught.
Yet regardless of the unforgivable abuse that its endured,
Our bodies continue to love us and fight to see us cured.
They drown out all the voices, patient for our white flag of surrender.
Realising that we’ve forgotten how to love ourselves and it’s time that we remember.