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The Perfect Shape

(by Anna-Rosina Bunk)

I’ve gone through many different body shapes in my life. Even when I was as thin as I felt society pressured me to be, I wasn’t the perfect shape my mother wanted me to be. But her idea of that “perfect” shape would change, both for her and for me. Her words mirrored her mood or perceptions at any given time.

When I was 16, she took me to a doctor because I was gaining weight, then straight after this appointment, to the supermarket. I wanted to buy my favorite chocolate, but she said, “I think you shouldn’t eat chocolate; you will just gain more weight.” It brought tears to my eyes. I had gotten used to that kind of comment; no one wants to admit that her mother is being so hurtful. But there were mixed messages: My mom spent a lot of time traveling for her work as a jewelry designer; she felt guilty for leaving me alone and left me way too much money for meals. I had food without limit, everything I wanted, and it made me chubby.

By the time I was 18 and living on my own, working and studying, I suffered from depression. Our family had been through enormous grief because of my father’s suicide, but I cried secretly so that I didn’t have to talk about it with my mom. I developed a very toxic relationship to food, eating a little bowl of oatmeal or a salad or nothing at all, running for hours at a time, feeling more whole as my body got thinner. Friends and family were worried, but sensing their worry just felt like more pressure.