Monday, December 6, 2010

Letters to People Who Clearly Need Letters

Dear Anorexic Girl:

Eat something.

Seriously. Please eat something.

I know that you must be sick and tired of people being suspicious around you and encouraging you to eat, and I know that you are not going to listen to them.

But please eat something.

You are suffering from an eating disorder that alters the way you view yourself. I've seen how gaunt your cheekbones are and the way dark circles rest underneath your hollowed eyes. Do you not see this yourself? How puckered and scary your face has become?

Do you not see how your ribs and hip bones jut out pointedly against your skin?

No. Of course not. You look in the mirror and see a fat girl.

Normally, I would have sympathy for you, but today, I must confess that I had absolutely none for you.

You may think that the only person who is affected by your maladie is yourself...but have you considered that maybe, just maybe, you will interrupt others' lives because of your health woes?

Well, today, that happened.

Today, as I rode on the first bus I must take to go to work, you became so fatigued and weak due to your lack of energy that you collapsed on the spot! In one second, your composure of thiness teetered upon your high heels and crashed with a "thud" on the bus's dirty floor.

A frantic flurry of hands rushed to your aid. They helped carry your light frame unto the nearest empty chair. A window was opened to let in fresh air for you to breathe. The bus driver had to stop and wait for you to recover.

This lasted all but four minutes, but those four precious minutes were just enough to make me miss my connection by two minutes.

I don't want to sound heartless. I don't want to sound petty. I should be more compassionate towards your case. After all, you had just fainted.

Nevertheless, I remained quite annoyed with you. Because of your brief fall, I had to stand waiting under the cold rain for an extra 21 minutes to catch the following bus to my job. Because of your descent, I barely arrived with enough time to spare to make photocopies for my lessons. I arrived five minutes late to greet my students. They had to revise for a test they had today in a different class. They needed those extra five minutes to practice their English with me.

You affected not only my students' and my schedule. I'm sure the others on the bus had their own times to be conscious.

So, please, eat something. It is unhealthy for you to keep living like this.

Dear Bulimic Girl:

I saw you and you know it.

Rather, I heard you. And you know that I did.

I was in the nice café having a nice coffee at the same time that you were having your nice lunch with your nice boyfriend.

We both had to use the bathroom around the same time. The café has only one toilet, so I had to wait for my turn and let you finish using it.

I waited outside that door for nearly five minutes. During that time, I heard muffled groans and retching emit from the other side. I wondered what was wrong with you.

Then you opened the door and I knew: your cheeks were flushed, you looked as if you had cried. Your large clothes were doing a good job hiding the lack of fat on your body. Your crevassed cheeks were a dead giveaway.

We made eye contact and you knew that I knew. But I won't tell your secret, for it is etched right on your face.

You went back to your nice table and joined your nice, smiling boyfriend.

You threw up the nice lunch that your nice boyfriend had nicely paid for you. Is this how you repay him? Has he not noticed this odd behavior of yours in the time that he has dated you? If this is what you do every time you two go out for lunch, then that is such a complete waste of his money and time.

I don't want to sound holier-than-thou, but if I had a nice boyfriend who offered to pay me a nice lunch in a nice café, I certainly wouldn't be blowing chunks afterwards (unless it had been contaminated and gave me food poisoning, which I doubt was the case because you ate at a nice café).

Please, Bulimic Girl, realize that what you are doing to yourself will have grave consequences on your well-being in the future. I'm sure that something in you may just be beginning to be damaged as well.

Your body is not a toy. You only have one body in this life.

Please take care of it. And of yourself.

Barb the French Bean


  1. OK, I realize these are serious subjects...but I can't. Stop. Laughing. :)

  2. Interesting letters French Bean, I relate to your frustration with people who decide to harm themselves and selfishly don't consider the impact that has on those around them. At the same time I found you letters kind of funny :), is that wrong?

  3. Tricia and Mrs Midnite: To be frank, I honestly was not aiming to be funny. I guess my frustation betrayed me and gave way to the sarcasm I will readily hand on a plate to whoever deserves it. :-P

    Maybe it's a favor to ask, but I do request that you please pass on the message of this post and share it with other people. Like Tricia said, these are serious subjects and I for one will not tolerate someone making me late to my job when it is completely unnecessary; I do well enough on *that* department on my own!


  4. Hey,

    My heart hurts reading this. Especially the bulimic one.

    This is quite poignant and haunting.

    I miss you, sorry I've been sporadic.

    Thank you for this.

  5. An amazing post! My best friend used to be bulimic and it was very hard to deal with... But you have written a very interesting story with a funny perspective, which I really like.

  6. lol love it a must read fer some who are popping into the coffee shop recently ;-)

  7. Great post Barb. Very heart wrenching, but with just the bite of sarcasm I enjoy.

    Funny this post happened seeing we just had another one of those "pro ana" blogs pop up in the shop.

    Those kinds of blogs scare the shit out of me.

  8. Yet another good post :) For some reason I did want to laugh, but then I would have just felt horrible laughing at such serious problems...

    Coffee Bean

  9. I'm sitting here, typing this, feeling hungry and hating myself for eating too much breakfast (350). I'm thinking about the cup of Earl Grey (0) I'll have when I get home. And then maybe I'll have a small apple (72) for dinner. It won't be enough, and I'll have trouble falling asleep tonight because I'm so hungry.

    But it will be worth it in the morning when I see Goal One on the scale. I might snap at everyone I know and love because of the sleep deprivation and hunger, but it doesn't matter because I'm losing weight and when I meet Goal Two everything will be better.

    Oh sure I have midterms coming up, and thinking about how hungry I am will surely distract me from making my usual straight A's. Sure, my fingers will be shaking and I won't be able to stand up without nearly passing out. And the cold--it's not a big deal, I can always wear three shirts and tights and pants and socks.

    ...But anyway. My point is, I know that what I"m doing is "bad." I know that when my parents eventually find out, it will crush them, and I'm setting a horrible example for my three little sisters. I'm selfish and stupid and this is probably going to kill me.

    I don't care.

  10. Emily:

    How is meeting "Goal Two" going to be any "better" if you are just going to evolve into an irritable, bitter, unpleasant girl who wakes up each day and snaps at everyone due to the hunger she experiences from her self-imposed starvation?

    Explain that.

    Losing weight isn't just about goals and creating a caloric deficit, damn it. I may joke about it on the blog, but I honestly battle with becoming a sounder person on a daily basis. However, I at least I'm trying to adapt my habits to an overall healthier lifestyle instead of seeking a (harmful) quick fix.

    350 calories is close to the number of what you *should* be consuming in the mornings; 422 calories in one day is dangerously unhealthy.

    I could shout until I'm blue in the face and warn you about how depriving your body of essential nutrients and energy can cause serious problems to your nervous system, but you just don't care about yourself enough to have self-esteem.

    You claim that you do not give a damn about others while you are in the process of deteriorating your body, but all I ask is that you at least had better think twice before making someone else late to their job when you collapse in public.


  11. While these scenarios clearly exist and are widespread, there is also the possibility of one or both of these girls having an illness outside of an eating disorder.

    I know I have thrown up many times in public places, despite trying my hardest, but I had no control. This nausea/vomiting condition controls me.

    I've lost lots of weight, and have bags under my eyes, but I try and try and things don't improve.

    So yes, some of these girls have eating disorders and need help. Most of them, likely. But some could be ill with other maladies, cancer, or depressive disorders that affect how they eat and function.

    Compassion counts. As frustrating and annoying as it may seem, these girls could be screaming silently for help. If we look at them in disgust, I feel like all we do is further perpetuate their self-hatred and criticism.

    It is an illness.
    Emily, please seek help. Please. It's not worth it and your body will pay for it later in life.

  12. I admit that when I went through an anorexic phase when passed through a rough period in my life. It was in the time when my father (my best friend and head of the household) passed away, I graduated high school, my mother began having financial pressure and I started college *and* working at the same time.

    At that point, I was quite depressed and I felt like the one thing that I could control in my life was what I didn't put in my body and how much exercise I exerted on it. I have considered myself a fat girl and at the time I thought I had found a solution to improve myself. My body became my plaything.

    Boy, was I wrong.

    Oddly enough, I never *looked* anorexic. I never became emaciatedly thin. Yet I hit a plateau and couldn't lose any more weight. I began blaming myself for not doing things "right" and only forced myself to eat much less and work out 2 or 3 hours on gym machines.

    I finally cracked when, one Wednesday between my university classes, I was working out on an elliptical machine. I felt so weak that I was about to faint on the spot. That's when I realized that I could not keep living like that.

    Maybe I just needed compassion, but I kept my frustrations all to myself. Perhaps I needed someone to care when I thought no one did; I just became secretive about my disorder. I was silent.

    Tough love and compassion may or may not work. Eventually, the girl needs a trigger which will make her realize that she CANNOT live like this! I just hope by then, it will not be too late.


  13. Added point: counting calories became an obsession that controlled my thoughts.

    Either I spent my waking moments trying to ignore the complaints my stomach made or checking out the caloric contents on food labels. I clearly remember how a co-worker once offered M&Ms and, rather than giving them a reason to be suspicious about me, ate a few of those little chocolate pellets.

    Then I went online to determine how many calories each M&M contained.

    "Would eating those 7 M&Ms surpass my limit of 600 calories a day? Crap. That cereal bar I ate before had 135 calories. I'm such a horrible, gross, fat pig! I gotta get to the gym and work out! I won't stop until I've burned off 1,000 calories."

    That was literally what would go through my mind serveral times a day. I couldn't keep on thinking like that.



Apparently, leaving comments on this blog is a hit-or-miss game of Russian roulette: you are either lucky and can comment away, or you are required to log in when the settings are CLEARLY set to allow trouble-free commenting (sorry 'bout that, folks). If anything, the Facebook page is always a viable option. :) -Barb