String Doll by Emily​ ​LaLiberte

Self​ ​commandments​ ​become​ ​etched​ ​in​ ​breath​ ​on​ ​a​ ​bathroom​ ​mirror
as​ ​a​ ​girl​ ​with​ ​yarn​ ​hair​ ​hugs​ ​a​ ​too​ ​thin​ ​waist,​ ​watching​ ​intently​ ​the​ ​way​ ​her​ ​spine,
bent​ ​in,​ ​spun​ ​with​ ​twine​ ​would​ ​poke​ ​through​ ​sallow​ ​skin.
I​ ​guess​ ​this​ ​is​ ​what​ ​you​ ​get​ ​when​ ​you​ ​count​ ​your​ ​blessings​ ​and​ ​calories.
String​ ​doll,​ ​I​ ​wrote​ ​this​ ​to​ ​show​ ​you​ ​the​ ​waking​ ​nightmares​ ​of
what​ ​you​ ​can’t​ ​see​ ​happening​ ​to​ ​the​ ​temple​ ​that​ ​is​ ​your​ ​body,
not​ ​open​ ​for​ ​reconstruction.
You​ ​can’t​ ​cover​ ​your​ ​tracks​ ​with​ ​these​ ​‘half​ ​truths’​ ​spun​ ​into​ ​your​ ​arms
which​ ​tell​ ​a​ ​story​ ​of​ ​a​ ​cold​ ​scale​ ​which​ ​you​ ​use​ ​to​ ​weigh​ ​yourself​ ​like​ ​ham​ ​at​ ​a​ ​deli.
Not​ ​when​ ​you​ ​shout​ ​it​ ​from​ ​rooftops​ ​that​ ​you’re​ ​too​ ​fat​ ​to​ ​be​ ​beautiful.
And,​ ​get​ ​this,​ ​​ ​you​ ​always​ ​wear​ ​your​ ​progress​ ​like​ ​some​ ​sort​ ​of​ ​sick​ ​badge​ ​of​ ​self​ ​mutilation, another​ ​day​ ​which​ ​you​ ​mark​ ​on​ ​the​ ​calendar,
one​ ​day,​ ​two​ ​days,​ ​three​ ​days,
and​ ​you​ ​haven’t​ ​eyed​ ​that​ ​cupboard​ ​that​ ​you​ ​ate​ ​out​ ​of​ ​like​ ​a​ ​pig
from​ ​a​ ​trough​ ​all​ ​those​ ​years​ ​ago.
That’s​ ​your​ ​success​ ​story,​ ​you​ ​say,​ ​that​ ​you​ ​were​ ​able​ ​to​ ​overcome​ ​fatness
​ ​and​ ​become​ ​an​ ​example​ ​for​ ​all​ ​those​ ​girls​ ​with​ ​thinspirations​ ​as​ ​high​ ​as​ ​skyscrapers.
You​ ​break​ ​your​ ​mother’s​ ​weepy​ ​heart​ ​with​ ​the​ ​constant​ ​stream​ ​of​ ​questioning
that​ ​leaves​ ​your​ ​yarn​ ​lips:​ ​‘Mama,​ ​I​ ​know​ ​you’re​ ​tired​ ​from​ ​working​ ​all​ ​day,
​ ​and​ ​you’ve​ ​heard​ ​this​ ​a​ ​thousand​ ​times​ ​before,
​ ​but​ ​when​ ​will​ ​I​ ​be​ ​beautiful​ ​like​ ​you?
When​ ​will​ ​I​ ​stop​ ​hating​ ​what​ ​I​ ​see​ ​in​ ​a​ ​reflection?​ ​When​ ​will​ ​I​ ​be​ ​myself?’
But,​ ​while​ ​you​ ​break​ ​the​ ​hearts​ ​of​ ​some​ ​and​ ​inspire​ ​others,​ ​you​ ​cannot​ ​deny
that​ ​your​ ​life​ ​is​ ​a​ ​balancing​ ​act,​ ​a​ ​battlefield​ ​where​ ​the​ ​matter​ ​between​ ​life​ ​and​ ​death
​ ​is​ ​held​ ​up​ ​between​ ​a​ ​thigh​ ​gap
and​ ​the​ ​way​ ​your​ ​mother​ ​prays,​ ​tear-struck
for​ ​the​ ​day​ ​when​ ​you’ll​ ​stop​ ​bowing​ ​down​ ​to​ ​a​ ​porcelain​ ​bowl.
No​ ​insurance​ ​for​ ​that.

So,​ ​follow​ ​Vanity​ ​Fair​ ​like​ ​the​ ​bible
and​ ​feel​ ​the​ ​acid​ ​in​ ​your​ ​lungs​ ​as​ ​salvation​ ​for​ ​the​ ​ugliness
​ ​you​ ​feel​ ​in​ ​an​ ​unwound​ ​heart.
​ ​Because​ ​you​ ​know​ ​you’re​ ​coming​ ​undone,​ ​don’t​ ​you?
You’re​ ​unraveling​ ​and​ ​fraying​ ​and​ ​I​ ​want​ ​to​ ​sew​ ​you​ ​back​ ​together,
yet​ ​I​ ​know​ ​only​ ​you​ ​have​ ​the​ ​needle​ ​and​ ​thread.
String​ ​doll,​ ​please,​ ​take​ ​a​ ​moment​ ​to​ ​look​ ​inside​ ​yourself
and​ ​see​ ​that​ ​your​ ​number​ ​on​ ​a​ ​scale​ ​is​ ​not​ ​a​ ​judgement​ ​call,
​ ​don’t​ ​feel​ ​the​ ​guilt​ ​of​ ​being​ ​alive.
Strive​ ​for​ ​little​ ​victories.
Let​ ​your​ ​thighs​ ​hug
because​ ​your​ ​body​ ​is​ ​trying​ ​to​ ​show​ ​that​ ​it​ ​loves​ ​you​ ​when​ ​they​ ​touch. Count​ ​the​ ​days​ ​of​ ​hair​ ​regrowth,
the​ ​way​ ​unstaggered​ ​breathing​ ​feels​ ​hot​ ​in​ ​your​ ​hands.
Your​ ​worth​ ​is​ ​not​ ​held​ ​up​ ​with​ ​each​ ​measurement​ ​and​ ​calories​ ​counted, you’re​ ​blinded​ ​by​ ​button​ ​eyes​ ​and​ ​a​ ​brain​ ​that​ ​wants​ ​to​ ​eat​ ​you​ ​alive,
but​ ​I​ ​promise​ ​you,​ ​I’m​ ​your​ ​best​ ​ally,​ ​no​ ​strings​ ​attached.
Yes,​ ​I​ ​know,​ ​I​ ​understand​ ​that​ ​this​ ​meal​ ​doesn’t​ ​seem​ ​at​ ​all​ ​appetizing
and​ ​you’d​ ​rather​ ​feel​ ​the​ ​emptiness​ ​roar​ ​like​ ​a​ ​train​ ​leaving​ ​a​ ​station
​ ​from​ ​your​ ​groaning​ ​stomach.
But​ ​you​ ​are​ ​dying,​ ​and​ ​that’s​ ​not​ ​a​ ​question.
So,​ ​next​ ​time,​ ​when​ ​you​ ​ask​ ​your​ ​mother​ ​about​ ​diet​ ​pills​ ​and​ ​trivial​ ​beauty, ​ ​bite​ ​your​ ​tongue​ ​like​ ​the​ ​breakfast​ ​she​ ​makes​ ​you
​ ​when​ ​you​ ​rise​ ​with​ ​the​ ​sun​ ​in​ ​the​ ​morning.
Because​ ​your​ ​story​ ​of​ ​success​ ​is​ ​​ ​not​ ​when​ ​hungry​ ​is​ ​your​ ​success​ ​story.