Recently I saw a Dutch article pop up in my timeline, titled “Managic Anorexic: On the Border of Having and Not Having an Eating Disorder.” Being an anorexic myself, I felt compelled to read it as I was unable to believe that there could be “managing anorexics.”
She had a suitcase with her and put it in the luggage rack above my head, then sat down next to me. She looked normal: she had sleek hair, wore a winter coat, checked out her iPod Touch like any other human being would. She was a bit pale, but hey, I look like a ghost myself during the winter, so who am I to judge her for that? But the thing I couldn’t ignore, was the feeding tube in her nose. It was an earmark of the disease we cannot see.
Everyone at the table was staring at me as if I had just been assigned as the new Pope, while I popped another green bean in my mouth. I was just chewing on it like every other person would do, but they acted as if a miracle had just happened. Maybe four years ago, it would have been a miracle. But these days, eating is as much part of my everyday routine as any other woman’s make-up ritual.
I was watching the people on the platform from my seat in the train. I watched their every movement, and especially whether they were watching me, too. I almost ducked if they were. During that split second when they weren’t looking, I dug up the cheesy bread stick that was hidden in my bag, tore off a piece, and ate it as fast and secretly as I could. This almost sounds as if I’m a celebrity avoiding paparazzi. The truth, however, is not nearly as glamorous. It’s even a tad ridiculous. I realised that when I was looking around suspiciously, nibbling at my cheese stick. Add massive sunglasses covering almost my entire face and the image would’ve been complete.
I entered the gym and, everywhere I went, not only did I feel the stares of people burning in my back; I actually saw them scrutinising me. Immediately I wondered: “Do I look weird? Are my legs chubby?” But with my hair in a bushy ponytail and brand new Nikes in my bag, I looked normal – like a human being. Since I already was recovering, I was beyond my I-want-to-feel-the-clothes-hanging-loosely-around-my-body phase. I wore a t-shirt that fitted my upper body perfectly and some shorts exposing my legs, which is not out of the ordinary when it’s so hot you don’t have to work out to get those beads of sweat on your forehead. Then it hit me, and that was when I discovered an Unwritten Rule at the gym. I mean, what did I — a thin twig — have to do there?