CW: Mentions of Eating Disorder
As I enter the summer this year, I’m taken back to the summer of 2018 when I was 11. My summer break was spent in a small hotel room in my childhood town in Michigan. It had been two years since I’d seen my childhood town and its friends. To me, this summer was going to be the reunion of a lifetime. My best friend came over to my hotel room first, and in our bikinis and bare feet, we ran down the dim hotel hallway, down to the hotel pool. We jumped in, our hands held to mend the time that we’d missed being apart. My mother followed after and from the poolside, she smiled as she took pictures of the reunion of the two very girls she had seen grow up together. I was the happiest I’d been that year.
My vacation ended and I was back in Japan, now miles away from that pool, my hometown, and my best friend. I looked back at the photos from vacation, desperately trying to imagine myself back there. I saw the pictures my mother had taken at the pool, and now, all I could focus on was how I looked. Everything about my body felt wrong. My stomach wasn’t flat, my arms looked too bulky, and my boobs weren’t as pushed up as I’d like them to be. I looked short, and my wet bathing suit stuck onto my thick thighs like cling wrap.
The following year, as I battled my eating disorder, the picture of me at the pool flashed in my mind often. The image flooded my brain, and it fueled my sick motivation to lose as much weight as possible. I didn’t want to look like myself in that picture. The girl in the picture was a stranger to me, someone I wanted to leave in the past. I didn’t want to be her, or worse, become her again. I made it my goal to shed myself from the body I once had.
I owe 11-year-old me an apology. I shamed, criticized, and abused her body for years. The same body she embraced to jump in pools and hold the hands of her loved ones. She would’ve been heartbroken if she had known the memories she made over the summer would be drowned out by self-hatred and insecurity. But I also owe myself, the one who bullied her own body, a hug. She stayed strong and resilient, and she now knows
Today, my new bikini arrived in the mail. It’s pink and cheeky, the kind where you have to tie it in place. This summer will be different from the past few summers because I’ll be her. I’m the 11-year-old girl, having the best summer of her lifetime.
Written by Kokoha
Edited by Emiru Okada
Graphics by Ren Ono