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It’s a sign of my ongoing struggle with body image that I can still see the magazine layout in my head.
A pair of teenage girls roller-bladed in bathing suits in some now-defunct young teen magazine (because I was way too young for my mother to let me read Seventeen). (I think it was, in fact, Teen magazine.)
I couldn’t have been much older than 7th grade. I stared at that page mercilessly, willing myself to be small enough to wear a two-piece bathing suit. When I did get skinny, I would buy the exact one on the right of the spread: still modest, a coral-colored two piece with a unique, off-the-shoulder top. I’m not sure what deluded me to think if I were thinner I would suddenly have the body of a 17-year-old, but I was sure I would look just like the girl in that spread.
I’ve never worn a two-piece. Not even as a child, that I can remember.
The reason I remember that issue of the magazine so vividly is because it laid out a diet. One that WORKED! Of course! I carried the issue around, dog-eared, for weeks or even months. Trying, trying. Coral in mind.
I didn’t drop weight, not even with all the tuna and frozen peas and white-meat chicken.
Somewhere around eighth grade, I hit a growth spurt and thinned out a little. Not two-piece thin. But that magazine was during the lowest point, the hidden years, the year I was bullied and it makes me want to throw up to even think about. Until I had someone call after me the slogan of a popular weight-loss commercial, every day, for an entire school year, I’m not sure I even realized I was truly overweight.
I’m fairly certain not a day’s gone by since seventh grade when I thought of my body in a positive manner.
To remember my solitary focus on one coral-clad model makes me sick. But I still want that now grossly out-of-date bathing suit.