The girl in the mirror

I had anorexia — but my story is one of many out there.

Ayesha Khalid February 19, 2012

I felt depressed and defeated.

I folded my arms around myself and felt my bones jut out. My skin hung from my frame like a curtain on a rail, as I lay motionless in bed. I finally mustered the energy to open the drawer in the bedside table.

I looked wistfully at the bars of chocolate, boxes of sweets, stems of nougat, lollipops, sugar mice and polo neatly organised inside it. But these weren’t for eating. They were only there to be looked at, held and smelt.

When intense hunger overwhelmed my famished body, I would open the drawer and the pangs subsided momentarily. I stood gingerly and made my way across the room and gazed at myself in the mirror. Instinctively, my eyes flicked away, unable to bear the image of the hulking mass. Who was the girl in the mirror? Why was she so ugly? She was so fat.

But when my gaze shifted from the mirror to my body, I saw something different. My hip bones jutted out and ribs protruded in a sick manner. I held out my arm feebly and saw the pulse faintly pumping through my blue veins beneath the pallid veil of skin.

I knew I was not fat, but what I saw in the mirror told me otherwise. And starving myself used to give me a feeling of superiority. I felt smug about the fact that others would gorge uncontrollably yet I had great self-restraint.

And at mealtimes, I would talk a lot. I would take a forkful of food, bring it to my lips and then start a conversation. And as I talked nonstop, I dissected my food into tiny pieces and pushed it around my plate. My family was too busy feeding the baby and hardly noticed my abnormal eating habits.

It wasn’t like I was scared of food. In fact, I spent a lot of time looking at recipe books and even did grocery shopping. But I was totally controlled by my self-image — the fat girl in the mirror who stared back at me, mocked my hunger and loathed my mental obsession with food.

A part of me knew I was being irrational but that part was helpless; it was shackled by the unreasonable voice inside my head. When I saw food, alarm bells rang in my head and I had no choice but to pay heed to the warnings. I remained defeated…

This is my very own story and thankfully I have successfully overcome anorexia and learnt to accept my body. Thanks to my friends and family, I overcame those daunting insecurities that scarred me mentally.

However, not many people in our country acknowledge the existence of anorexia amongst teenagers, especially girls, in Pakistan. Parents and family members need to make young girls realise that they are beautiful the way they are and that their physical appearance should not solely define their self-worth. Girls need to be made to realise that their intellect, interests and professional goals should be more important to them than their bodies.
My loved ones made me overcome my mental issue — I hope you look out for your loves ones as well.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th, 2012.


Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ