Here’s the moment I began to hate my body: I am twelve years old, standing next to one of my friends in front of the mirror in the locker room after track practice. She, like the other girls in our school who were routinely called beautiful, was stick-thin. Comparing the size of our thighs, I realized that I was not. Suddenly, I became convinced that my physical form was inferior to hers; my legs began to seem like a personal failing. From there, I undertook the project of correcting what I saw as wrong with my body; mainly, that I wasn’t medically underweight.
Food, instead of something to enjoy, became a collection of macronutrients. In some ways, this line of thinking had already been drilled into me by my mother, a registered dietician. However, her well-meaning advice about eating a balanced diet had been twisted by my own self-loathing into something much more sinister; a bowl of chocolate ice cream was now reduced to 30 grams of sugar, 14 grams of fat, and more calories than I wanted to think about. And if I ate that bowl of ice cream, it would mean almost overwhelming guilt; I had poisoned my body, and there would be consequences.