I am not a number
I am not a number
I am six. When describing my mother I mention that she is fat and the kids around me giggle. I am confused; I do not yet realise this is a bad word.
I am eight. My best friend's mother comes into the room where we were playing and asks if I notice anything different about her. Before I can guess she tells me she lost weight. She seems to expect me to congratulate her, so I do.
I am still eight. Our biology workbook asks us to colour a little square for every ten kilos we weigh and I colour one less than I should.
I am nine. A girl boasts about how she only weighs twenty kilos. Other girls say this can't be true and tell everyone their own weight. I watch from the sidelines and keep quiet, afraid.
I am still nine. I compare myself to others and don't like what I see. I feel better when there are kids around that look like they weigh more than I do.
I am eleven. I decide to start dieting in secret by eating less. I don't, but I am delighted when my favourite pair of pants seem to leave more room around the waist than they did before. I am kidding myself by holding my breath.
I am twelve. I have grown a lot in the last few months and everywhere I go grown ups notice my height. It is not the only thing they notice; I learn to be proud of how thin I look now.
I am thirteen. My parents make a habit out of pointing out that I am the thinnest in our family of four. I feel uncomfortable, but the compliments are nice. My little not-thinnest-in-the-family sister watches.
I am still thirteen. A girl in my class wears a thight shirt. She has a bit of a belly. I judge her for it.
I am fourteen. I am at my grandparents' anniversary party and an elderly relative tells me that if he looked like me, he would eat a piece of every cake offered. I think about it for a week afterwards.
I am fifteen. I find out that my mother keeps a calendar hidden on the side of the washing machine where she jots down her weight everyday. I feel embarrassed. I am unsure why.
I am sixteen. My aunt and cousin don't want birthday cake because they are dieting. I take two pieces.
I am eighteen. I tell people I have never worried about my weight. I think back and realise it is technically a lie, but there are those who have it worse, so perhaps it's not? I write a poem, wondering why society teaches little kids to determine their selfworth by a number.