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“Once you finish the worksheet, you can pack up,” My teacher, Mr. McMatkins tells my class. “If you don’t finish it in time, you will need to do it for homework.”
I look down at my sheet, with only one unanswered question left.
8.) How can pop culture negatively influence someone?
I’m not really sure what to write. I don’t think pop culture can have that negative of an influence on someone. Everything can have a negative and a positive though, I guess.
8.) How can pop culture negatively influence someone?
Someone could end up not being true to themselves by trying to fit in.
If I’m honest, I feel like wanting to fit into society’s standards isn’t the worst thing in the world. If there’s a really cool trend, is it a bad thing to want to be a part of it? If everyone’s doing something, then it probably can’t be that bad.
Since I’m finished, I put my worksheet in my teal folder, and stack my other books on top of it. I silently go over my plans for the rest of the day. My mom is picking me up today, Since it was raining out this morning. My mom and I (which is basically my whole family aside from my dog, since my dad died when I was little), are going over to my best friend (and also family friend’s) house for dinner.
I don’t really remember my dad. I know that he had a heart attack pretty soon after I was born, and it was really hard for my mom to raise me, while dealing with the grief. I think it’s harder for my mom to deal with than for me, because I’ve always known the absence.
I hop up, grab my stuff off my desk, and make a quick exit. It takes me some time to get all the way to the other side of the building already,--where my locker is located--and the huge throng of kids all sharing the same goal of getting out of the school doesn’t help either. I finally make it to my locker, and just as I’m about to open the door, the girl to which the locker above me belongs walks up.
“Sorry, I’ll be really quick!” She says, blocking my locker with her legs.
“Okay” I sigh, and go lean against the wall. Might as well get comfortable, since this will take a while.
“Hey Meghan!” I hear Avery call.
“Hi!” Meghan responds, “Do you want to go to starbucks later today?”
“Maybe, but I already had some candy, and I don’t want to end up fat from eating so much unhealthy stuff.” Avery tells her friend. Of course, it probably wouldn’t hurt her if she had an extra frappuccino, since she’s so perfectly thin, unlike me.
“Ok, well hurry up!” Meghan says, as she starts walking towards the exit.
“Coming!” Avery responds, hustling after her.
Once the barricade of her legs has removed themselves from my locker, I attempt to beat my record for quickest locker stop.
“Hi honey!” my mom greets me, “how was your day? Any homework?”
“It was good. I only have a little bit of math homework.” I say, and reach into the backseat to pet Ella. A pink wet tongue licks my hand. “How was yours?”
“Pretty good,” my mom says. “I helped deliver twins today. One boy and one girl.”
“That’s nice,” I tell her. My mom is an OB-GYN, so it’s always exciting when there are twins.
“We are going over to the Bellamy’s house at six,” She tells me, as we are pulling up our driveway. “I think Alina’s brother and father will be out tonight, so it will just be a girl night.”
“Okay,” I hop out of the car, and head inside to get my homework done.
I bite into the warm gooey taco that I made, grateful that there is another one on my plate. I’ll probably end up getting seconds, too.
“Yum!” Alina says, next to me. “This is delicious.”
I quickly devour my tacos as we discuss the science project that me and Alina are working on in school, about the respatory system. Normally, I would take seconds, but nobody else has at all, and I would feel awkward. After a bit, Alina pops up holding her plate, so I get up, and walk with her to the kitchen, where we left the food. Instead of getting seconds, however, she puts her plate in the sink, and turns to me.
“So, while we wait for our moms to finish so we can have dessert, do you want to go to my room, or the basement?” I quickly put my dish in the sink, since I don’t want to seem awkward. I think back to what Meghan said at the end of school today, and know that it probably wouldn’t hurt me to not eat seconds. Unlike her, I’m already kind of fat. I should probably start cutting back on what I eat, because thinking about it, I eat a lot more than I probably should.
“Let’s go to the basement,” I say, before the pause gets too awkward.
We head down, and start a game of monopoly. At first, I’m winning, but then pretty soon, Alina starts to collect more money than me. It’s still unclear who will win when our mother’s call us upstairs for dessert. As we climb up the stairs, I notice that Alina is actually a lot thinner than I am, too. How did I never really notice this before? It can’t be healthy.
Once we reach the stairs, Janet is opening a box of macarons, and my mom is setting a stack of four plates on the counter.
“What flavors do you want, girls?” She asks us.
I guess I shouldn’t eat too many, so I tell her that I just want one raspberry.
“Alright!” She says, and pulls out a Raspberry to put on my plate. It tastes good, and I find myself wishing that I could have another, but I control myself.
The next day, I skip breakfast, and pack myself an apple for lunch. I’m a little hungry, but I hate looking at my body in the mirror. I decide to set a goal for myself. Just try to lose 5 pounds. Even though I can’t weigh myself, I’ll be able to tell based on how I look. It’s a start, and hopefully it will help. That night for dinner, my mom makes spaghetti bolognese, which is one of my favorites. But I tell myself again, not to get seconds. Alina doesn’t eat seconds, like I bet most of the kids at school, and look at how good she looks.
I’ve been doing this for a week or so, and I still can’t see any change. I haven’t weighed myself though--the only scale we have is in my mom’s bathroom, and she won’t let me use it.
For dinner tonight, my mom makes my favorite, fried chicken with waffles. As I’ve been doing the past week, I make sure that I take less than I usually would.
“Paige, why aren’t you taking more?” My mom asks. “You also haven’t been eating breakfast much recently either.”
I decide to tell her the truth. “Well, I probably need to cut back on how much I am eating.”
“Why?” My mom asks, looking confused.
“Literally everyone else at school is so much thinner than me!”
“That is not true,” my mom says. As if she goes to my school and knows what everyone looks like.
“Then why does it feel like it?”
“I don’t know, but you need to start eating more. Have you been weighing yourself?”
“No,” I tell her.
“How much do you think you weigh?”
“I don’t know, probably 146 pounds.” I tell her.
“Ok,” She says, “and how much do you think you should weigh?”
I think about this for a second before speaking. “I think it’s more about how I look, but I guess I would probably say around 90 pounds.”
“Come with me,” She says, and I follow her. She leads me up the stairs and into her bathroom.
“Step on the scale.” She orders me.
I step up, and look for the number on the scale. It takes a moment, probably because I weigh so much. Finally, the number comes out to read 94.35 lbs. That basically rounds up to 95 pounds.
“There is no way that I am that light. I don’t look that light.”
“Well, honey, it’s possible that you have anorexia,” my mom tells me, “we can go to the doctor and see.”
“What’s anorexia?” I ask. I’ve heard of it before, but not enough to really know what it is.
“I’m pretty sure it is an eating disorder, where you don’t eat a lot because you don’t like how fat you look.”
“Oh,” I say. I guess I could see that, however I don’t think that I have an eating disorder just because I don’t eat that much.
“I think that I should probably make a doctor’s appointment for you,” she tells me.
“Ok,” I say, even though I think it’s pointless.
When we get to the doctor’s after school on Wednesday, I am not in a good mood. My mom has been forcing me to eat a huge breakfast every morning since we had our conversation about my “anorexia”. She packs my lunch, and if I don’t eat it all, she makes me eat it after school. I can’t believe that I used to eat that much. I feel like I overate after every meal. Dinner is the worst though. She watches me, and makes sure that I take enough and eat it all. Sometimes, she tries to push me into eating even more than usual, but I draw the line there.
We go up to the waiting room, and I read a book until I get called in.
“Paige Murphy?” The nurse asks.
“That’s us,” my mom says, as I hop up and grab my stuff. We follow her through a maze past offices and exam rooms until she points us into an office. Sitting at the desk is a woman of about average height, with straight strawberry blonde hair cut to a medium length and blue eyes. She tells us to have a seat, and motions to the two chairs opposite of her desk.
“Good afternoon,” She greets us “I’m Dr. McKamey.” She looks at me, so I tell her my name.
“So, Paige, your mother told me that you might have anorexia,” She gets right to the point.
“I don’t think I do,” I tell her. A small smile forms on her lips.
“That’s ok. I’m just going to ask you a few questions, and I want you to answer them honestly.”
“Ok,” I say. That sounds easy enough.
“How much have you been eating?”
“Well, I’ve been skipping breakfast, and having an apple or some other fruit for lunch,” I answer, “but I do eat dinner, and my mom has been forcing me to eat more.”
“She was eating a very small portion of dinner,” my mom adds.
“And do you think that you look fat?” Dr. McKamey continues asking me.
“Yeah, I do.” I tell her.
I try to pay attention for the rest of the doctor’s appointment, but it is so long, and it all passes by in a bit of a blur. The only thing that I really get out of it is: I have been diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. On the car ride home, my mom tells me that she is going to help me through it. I appreciate what she is saying, but I really don't think that it is that big of an issue.
The next day, my mom tells me the plan for fixing my anorexia. It involves frequent trips to the doctor to see how my weight gain and calories are, since the first step is getting my weight back up to normal. I will have a diteican who will literally send my mom meal plans for me. I no longer have a choice of how much I eat. Whatever the doctors say, I have to eat. My mom made it very clear that she will make sure that I follow this plan, and I don’t doubt it. After she lost my dad, I know that she will be very careful with me.
“Ok,” Is my response once my mom has finished telling me all of this, even though I don’t think she was waiting for my approval.
The first week is the hardest. I try to fight her. She won’t let me go to sleep until I have eaten everything that I am supposed to. I’m gaining weight, and I don’t like it. This whole thing is just going to get me to become fat again. One night, I actually end up yelling at her.
“You can’t keep forcing me to eat! I get that you think I need to gain weight, but I don’t think it’s as big an issue as you are making it seem,” I yell. Why can’t she understand that?
Instead of yelling back at me, my mom calmly says, “I’m just trying to help you.”
“Well if you were, then you would let me weigh what I want to weigh!” I stomp out of the kitchen and up to my room. I still feel bad about it. I know she is trying to help me, and I guess I just have to trust her.
Doctor’s appointment after doctor’s appointment, I am gradually gaining back my weight. As I do, I still feel like I shouldn’t be. How healthy is this really? I ask that question one day when we are at the doctors.
“When you have anorexia, you think that you need to look skinnier, and you don’t see yourself clearly. You lose weight, but you still think that you look fat, so you keep losing weight. In your mind, you’ll never look as skinny as you want. There’s not an issue with being fat either,” Dr. McKamey explains to me.
“Ok,” I say slowly. I guess I could see that. I remember in the beginning of this thinking that I just wanted to lose 5 pounds. I ended up losing much more than that, and I still felt like I looked just as fat as before. I still feel like I shouldn’t be fat though, but I guess I can kind of wrap my head around the fact that I’m not fat.
Gradually, over the course of multiple weeks, I begin to futher believe this. That I thought something was wrong with the way my body looked, even though there wasn’t. I start eating my food more willingly, and eventually, my mom doesn’t have to tell me to at all. I still have to go to the doctor’s for a while longer, just so they can check up on me and make sure I am doing okay, but I am safely on the road to recovery.
“Thanks mom,” I say, as I reach for my second raspberry macaron. “You’ve really helped me. I wouldn’t have been able to recover without you.”
“You’re welcome, honey,” she tells me, and we cheers our macarons.