Eating wasn’t supposed to be this difficult. She stared hard at the popcorn, willing herself to take a handful. It was 7pm and so far today, she’d managed to only eat an apple and a handful of raisins. Stepping on the scale before she’d met her friends for a movie, she noted that she hadn’t gained so much as an ounce in the last 12 hours- those sit-ups she’d done this morning as she waited for her shower to warm had certainly helped.
Everyone around her was saying that she was losing weight, but she took them for being kind. She’d stared at herself in the mirror before she’d gotten dressed to go out. She could still see the slight roundness of her stomach and the curve of her thighs. Her cheekbones weren’t quite visible under her fleshy cheeks but her eyes had seemed slightly empty, as if already giving up the fight. All she wanted was the chance to be skinny- to look like the girls she saw day in and day out in ads and on television. Traditional diets had never worked for her. Starving herself hadn’t been easy at first, but over time her stomach shrank to the point where a few peanuts and a small glass of water could tide her over for a few hours.
Her friends had bought her popcorn, claiming she could stand to gain a few pounds. They were watching her as they had been for the past month- would she eat it? Would she claim she was full, an excuse she’d relied on so many times in the past? “But it’s just popcorn” they would argue. “It isn’t supposed to fill you up; it’s just a little snack.” She didn’t have a choice- if she wanted to keep her secret, she would have to act normal. She could run a few miles on the treadmill after she got home. Pushing away the fear, she delicately took a few kernels and popped them into her mouth.