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Table of Contents From the Editors Edward Palumbo

On Food (Literally)

Kate Leddy

Crab Cakes

Marisa Mazek

No Longer What My Body Is Body: A Sestina

Clinton Van Inman Megan Bush Sonya Groves

Girl by Tree By the Spoonful Big Ugly Girl Part I Big Ugly Girl Part II “Holy Astringent Plum-Like Fruit!” said Robin

Clinton Van Inman Rosie Garland Karen Little

Elba in Red Strawberries Gum

Lucie Britsch

The girl who broke the spell

Toti O’Brien

Sisters

Morgan Davis Toti O’Brien Neha Jain Rajpreet Sidhu Liz Dolan

Progress Signature Ana made me do it Chart of Accounts I Didn’t Give Up Easily Fat in the Can

Christine Tierney

sucky vs kinda cool Just Another Day in ‘82

Diana Smith Bolton

You Are R. Crumb The Sommelier Says Hunger

Jill Ness Andrea Hansel Elizabeth Alphonse

Layers Taming the Wild Tummy Dress Form Express Mannequins Grow Brains


Janne Karlsson

Tattoos & Gravity The Scent of Loneliness

Samantha Reid Allyson Whipple

Tasty Treat Ode to Full-Fat Dairy Products Homage to My Hips

Amaranthia Sepia Gittens-Jones Katherine Malhame w.l.c. jacob Rita Feinstein

Patience Special C On a Good Day I Weight 125lbs Hungry Heart

Deanna Pizzitelli

Mom I Mom II

Ruth Sabath Rosenthal Katina Pontikes Mitch Green

Once the likes of me A Dark Subject 3 Wheel rd


From the Editors Dear Readers, After many months Issue 2 has finally arrived. It comes with so much content that we decided to split it into two parts; we hope you enjoy both. Through reading submissions we saw just how much there is to be said on the subjects of body image and eating disorders. And we hope our little magazine allows these experiences to be heard. When selecting pieces for this issue, we chose the ones that haunted us, the ones we couldn’t get out of our minds, the ones we kept going back to. We saw something in every story, poem, essay and picture in this issue. We hope they speak to you, as well as to each other. Cheers, Jen and Yenn

The editors would like to acknowledge Professor Joe Weil for his guidance, the students in Professor Weil’s poetry workshop for their help reading submissions, and Sara Walters who brought her nonfiction and poetry expertise to our selection process.


On Food (Literally) Edward Palumbo

It is happening again, the calling, soft at first, a whisper, but then it grows, louder, at last, it becomes a growl. I know them, I know of their home in the frosty land they call Frigidaire. There were a dozen once, soft, and chewy, huddled together in neat rows, but their number has dwindled to a mere four. They are hardly an army now, not even enough for a basketball team, but they are still dangerous. I try to fall back to sleep, knowing the urge will not torment me while I am in deep slumber, but I must rise, to use the bathroom and that means I will pass the kitchen and that is never a good thing. I was stronger once, as a young man, I would laugh at the baked goods, I would scold the brownie like a mischievous puppy, I would tease the cinnamon twist, by picking it up, but never biting it, (and, yes, it longed to be bitten, but I would not), and I would torment the muffin, by cutting it in half, but not warming it. I was a rock, then, sturdy, immovable, one hundred sixty-five pounds of lean muscle, but that was long ago. They are not simply chocolate chip, you know, if they were, I may stand a chance, but they are also made with pecan pieces. Imagine, chocolate chips and pecans in the same cookie, it is the work of Lucifer, himself, a creation he is, no doubt, very proud of. I hate them, I wished I had never bought them. I just went into the supermarket for coffee and corn niblets, just coffee and niblets, that is all, but then, I saw the end cap, colorful and bright, adorned with a huge, blue and yellow sign, and below the sign, stacks and stacks of cookies – chocolate chip cookies with pecans, the devil’s own children. I walked by, just to have a look, just out of curiosity. One pack eyed me carefully as I neared, it jumped into my cart as I passed and I swear I heard cheering from the cookies inside the package. What could it hurt? I asked myself, a few cookies would not ruin me. And, anyway, spring was upon me and I would be exercising more. And I took them home. I took them into my home, the home where I live and entertain my guests and play with my dog, my only sanctuary. And now, I regret it.


I have been to the bathroom and I have returned to the bed. I did not stop to visit the kitchen, but I saw the light, the light from the refrigerator, the door is partially opened, you see. They have done so, they have opened it and they know I will respond. Savage animals. I press my face into the pillow, but the calling comes anew, sweet, almost melodic, as it to move me. Four remain, four tiny beasts from Hades, four round, brownish tickets to the gym. I taste chocolate on my tongue, but it is not real. I rise from the bed and scratch myself, (never mind where). I feel my feet move beneath me, as I have before. There is no going back. There is nothing to go back to, just an empty bed, but where I am going, there is danger and excitement and happiness. I only hope I have some milk.


Crab Cakes Kate Leddy

16oz Premium Jumbo Lump Crab Meat It’s the brand only found at Costco and it sits in the fridge where my sister will find it when searching for a snack after a morning jog Her face will light up with an excitement the little package has never produced for me as she asks if we are having crab cakes for dinner Because among a thousand talents my mother is known for are the tasty crab cakes she’ll make on warm summer nights sizzling brown rounds of savory cake filling the kitchen with it’s scent the day my sister got her first job that’s what we celebrated with and on birthdays it was always her special dinner request served with veggies on the side my family would go out to dinner sometimes and always if we ordered crab cakes my father would taste them and with a wink of his eye and a smile he’d say “They’re good, but not as good as your mother’s” In the time between rising out of the phase of picky eater and falling beneath an unforeseen sky I learned a little something about carbs and calories the difference between them and me began with a blindsided teenager auditioning the values of her life and my mother’s recipe didn’t seem to have made the cut on nights that I’d come home to find butter melting in the pan I’d swiftly recite my rejection remind my family that I just wasn’t a crab cake kind of person and part of me always laughed at this on the inside as I opted for the veggies on the side went upstairs to sigh at my reflection jumbo lump stomach with jumbo lump limbs spilling from a shell of a mind trying to claw its way down to my fingertips as they sizzle away frustration onto my forearms self-harm should never be the result of a father that held your hand as he took you to play mini golf in the spring a brother that would let you play his video games with him and teach you all the best tricks but love is not a coin I can insert into a daydream to hear my mother singing when pain can burrow ringing in the curves of the ears it feels like I have been going deaf ever since I did get to taste these famous crab cakes my mother makes At two in the morning I was like Indiana Jones sneaking into the darkness of the kitchen


my thoughts had dove down through the traps before my hands had a moment to catch themselves and I remember the treasures they touched the rush of consuming such forbidden pleasures I was like a prisoner given a window of sunlight to her cell So I took in all that I could before darkness came again and I remember picking away at the cold leftovers of my sister’s birthday dinner just enough to taste without disrupting the structure so nobody would know I had broken off a piece of myself found her laying warm in the sand just before the waves washed in again and nobody needs to know Nobody needs to know But there comes a point in your life when you contemplate how you would want to die when the time comes 9 months of therapy 32 pounds of weight gain still those 3oz are terror on a plate a fate I fear I’ve roped myself into with the belief I will never conquer it with a family who believes I have recovered from a past I never want to return them to A family who I so determinedly convinced I simply did not like the taste and a small voice in the back of my head whispering “maybe it is for the best” but although I pin my fear to corkboard along with spaghetti and meatballs, French fries the words “I don’t have much of a sweet tooth” and some days I hang from the thumbtacks like I could use them to pick my way back up that icy surface I have thought about the person I want to be when I die And although I don’t want to, I have thought about the day she will too And I think about how it will feel To know that I let an irrational fear keep me from such a simple pleasure Such a simple get together with the ones I love The ones who love me The simplest scene of letting me love myself and someday my mother won’t be here and pictures on the shelf will turn pages of her life, loves family traditions envision us at the dinner table with the windows open letting in the summer breeze and my mothers recipe and I want to see me there not this girl with the salad and the screened in stare I want to see the sky and taste the air I want so badly to want to never care I have my mother’s eyes I can’t be too scared as slowly stepping I get there I will revolutionize this life and everyone will know I am so sick of wanting to shrink I want to stand Shift


Grow beyond worlds I could never think to go and maybe I will start with a plate and a warm crab cake and her and I a young girl named Kate and a small voice in the back of my head whispering “I am okay”

                                                                   


No Longer

Marissa Mazek

I am rails no longer. I have hips now, and breasts that stick out past my ribs, though the alchemy of metabolism makes them protrude, too. I am no longer whittled, though my fingers still get cold, but there is something to me now, some substance. I have content—more than just skin and bones. Meat on my bones, I signify something, am able to create. That this body could now produce a child scares me, but it's less frightening than passing out, than the jut of hips and wristbone and no ass. And, now, when he holds me, I know it's not just to cling to my body, but to grasp onto what's inside. And the starved girl, the one within me, weeps, for she is filled.                                          


What My Body Is Marissa Mazek

My body is its own. Long in places, stiff-necked. My head's heavy with thick hair, there's a new mole on my arm. My body feels best when it's lying with or under or on or next to his body. Tired often, always hungry, I like to languish some days, run with the dog on others, give it to whom I will. My body is not a tool. It's not: an instrument to hone, an empty bowl to fill, a stick to whittle, an object for the taking.                                                  


Body: A Sestina Marissa Mazek

It's strange, this wild thing we inhabit: body. Slouching, jammed up tight against the desk, I stretch, a plastic clip holding up my hair, my eyes on my companion, a watchful black dog. By each of my elbows is a book, but there's a rustle and shout out the window. A bloom of azaleas wilts under this window, a sad, rained-on, drooping body. On the shelves behind me rest a hundred books; more overwhelm my three-legged desk on which, wailing, whining, the dog stands and eyes the little girl outside, with bowl-cut hair. Though mine is now longer, I reach for my own hair, recall when I hummed and sang like the child out the window, when I was afraid of, but wished for, a dog to protect me, to keep safe this body destined for a lifetime of hunching over desks, writing, reading, striving to create books. They loom, the masters who made these books, their words tangling into my thick hair, while I round towards the screen on this desk, and wonder about the girl playing beneath my window. Does she feel shame yet, in her body? Will it rush away from her, too, like a tugging dog? She slams the door, races back out with her own dog, running with him, like a character in some children's book, young and proud, fearless in her squat body. Someone in the house brushes the tangles out of her hair, makes sure she doesn't judge her own reflection in windows, teaches her that she can find refuge away from a desk. When I was her age, I hid at my school desk, felt, when slapped with jeers, like a mangy dog, compared my short legs to the long mannequins in windows, tried to shield myself in books, sought comfort by yanking at my own hair, wondered when I would reign control over my straying body. Now, I slouch over a desk covered in books. I don't feel like some homeless dog when I brush my hair, and I hope the little girl out the window never wars with her body.


Girl by Tree

Clinton Van Inman


By the Spoonful Megan Bush  

I am allergic to peanut butter—not peanuts, not peanut sauce. Not peanut butter cookies if they’re tasty enough. Peanut butter. Especially when eaten by the spoonful, with the fridge door still open after cross-country practice when I’m seventeen. I know with reasonable certainty—based on medical books about migraines my mother forced upon me because, she nagged, I should be an expert in my own disorder—that it was surely the peanuts that gave me migraines. Here’s the science experience I conducted: if a person eats half a jar of Adam’s Peanut Butter before one’s mom arrives home from work, one is certainly going to have a reaction—for this someone that means pounding temples, saliva pooling in one’s cheeks, and, sooner than later, the peanut butter retched right back up. I got my first migraine when I was seven, which was about the same time I came to the conclusion that I was fat. Adults told me, repeatedly, that I was “big for my age!” and I was not dumb. I knew what big was. I knew that already the boys chased the girls whose round foreheads resembled the dolls with the blinking eyelashes, while the rest of their bodies seemed like sprinting nymphs. Those girls were “petite,” the adults said. It wasn’t until college that I found an old photograph of myself, legs like a flamingo, all awkward, all limbs. “Mom! I was tall.” “Course you were,” she replied. “What did you think?” I wonder who I would be now if I’d come to different conclusions. My migraines, though I have blamed them on many things, cannot be blamed on height. All I know is that one day, as I went about my little-kid business, a dull tightening came over me, cranking my jaw, my temples, and the back of my neck like the claw of a bulldozer closing shut. Then a piercing began right above my eye, and I needed to close myself up. I wedged between the arm rests of my father’s lazy-boy like a curled up puppy, only I wasn’t asleep. I was just existing. In excruciating pain. Wavering between wanting and not wanting


to vomit. I now see myself like another photograph: from the outside, how it must have looked to my mother. The child she could not help, whose body was limp with pain, not even whimpering. Her only duty, the only way she could help ease my suffering, was by dumping the bowl of bile and flecks of carrot in the toilet. Only hours earlier she’d peeled, sliced, and placed those carrots into a sandwich bag for my lunch. The first thing the neurologist blamed was milk. Not ice cream, not yogurt, just the liquid form. I’m sure she had all kinds of rational reasons that she and my mother explained to me as I sat on the examination table, reasons that did not sink in. I dutifully avoided milk. And yet, like clockwork, three times a month, I continued to get sick. This, perhaps, begins the tale of my avoidance of a new food each month. I will speed this story ahead and tell you the ending: I am not allergic to milk. Or if I am, I am no more allergic to it than any other part of this trigger-laden world. I still get approximately three headaches per month, just as I did when I was seven. I am impatient with doctors who ask questions before giving me prescriptions for the drug I have been on since I was nine. Because, even from these short interviews, I am very aware that I know more about migraines than most doctors do; I have long ago given up in their befuddled attempts at “cures.” Instead, I sit in their offices answering their questions while tapping my foot, waiting for them to be satisfied enough with my curt replies to sign the prescription, which is the only reason I’m there. I’m just thankful I have a drug that means I have left the days of fetus-position pain in the dust. But, while I—we—have given up on doctors, my mother and I never gave up on pinpointing triggers, trying to find alternatives to the Band-Aid style chemicals I pop like candy when I feel one coming on, trying to find ways to stop migraines before they start. From the medical literature, I know many a trigger. Dehydration, too much sleep, periods, pressure changes, not enough sleep, wine, stress, birth control, sugar, perfumes, beer, gluten, big-screen movies, taking too long of naps, legumes, chocolate, salt, MSG, too much exercise, seafood, not enough exercise, nightshades, weather fronts. Some triggers are stronger than others. I learned as


a teenager that too much sleep is an automatic migraine; I am the only 14-yearold who asked for a wake-up call on Saturday mornings at 10. I know, from a horrible few months spent in almost constant pain, that I am very very sensitive to birth control. These are easy things to mitigate. However, most triggers are more subtle. Many people need a perfect storm to get a migraine: they need to be dehydrated AND sleep deprived AND eat a salty dinner. One book explained that, “Often foods will build up in one’s system, and while the first time eating chocolate doesn’t cause a migraine, the third time in a week will.” In other words, it could be anything. In other words, it could be everything. In other words, I look for patterns, I pay attention. But also, I eat what is or is not convenient for whatever diet I’m adhering to. Siting “allergy” is more legitimate than “obsessed with weight.” At seventeen I didn’t eat carbohydrates—or, not publically anyways. This was due to my bulimic tendencies, so tantalizingly easy for a body-phobic 16year-old who already spent so much time crouched over a toilet seat. When my mother found me puking brownies, she, like a good diplomat, compromised: if I saw a shrink and promised to stop expelling my dinner, she would help my father (who needed to lose weight) and me (who apparently needed parental structure when it came to food) go on the Adkins Diet. My mother, who packed my lunches every morning all the way through high school, stopped packing sandwiches and started packing salads with feta and tuna in Tupperware container, with homemade dressing placed in a sandwich bags so the lettuce wouldn’t wilt by lunch. She rubber-banded a plastic fork to the lid. I was expected to bring home the fork, the container and the oily sandwich bag to be reused. At dinner, my mom enthusiastically changed up her cooking regime, serving rice or bread on the side for herself and my lanky younger sister, while my father and I sawed through hunks of meat and side salads. I was quiet but determined. My father acquiesced to this arrangement with constant narration of the benefits and downfalls of this altered meal. His conciliation was that he could dump as much blue cheese dressing on his salad as he wanted. My mother eyed the globules of thick white fat poured like cement atop the salad she’d cut


so nicely, but said nothing. On Adkins, fat was allowed. My father was the best at embracing this. I liked the rigidity of the rules, the order, the structure. I liked feeling in control. But most of all I liked the way my body seemed to elongate, to instantly look more like my mother’s, the way I’d always wanted to look. I remember the day I opened my lunchbox and found twelve almonds packed in their own sandwich bag next to the Tupperware. Almonds! It was the first day I was to add carbohydrates back into my diet, starting with almonds, the sweetest, fleshiest, most wonderful food in the world. I had not had fruit or nuts or bread for two weeks. I had lost 15 pounds, was skinnier than I ever had been in my life, which I would slowly but steadily gain back—and more—over the next few years, to my shame and horror. But that day I remember sitting in history class. I sat between the kid who had gotten way nicer since he started smoking pot and the emo girl who didn’t smile. I wore a tight t-shirt, for the first time proud of my emaciated body. Both of my fingers held one almond, and I used my front two teeth to slowly scrape the brown coating, and then the sweet white pulp. I tried to stretch the glory of those almonds through the entire period. The sweetness tickling at my tongue. A year later, I would still never dream of coming home and munching on a piece of bread or bowl of cereal—the carbs! My food journal, which I’d written out that morning, said I could have celery with one—count it, ONE tablespoon of peanut butter. I would measure the peanut butter with a tablespoon, spread it delicately across my celery and sit down to calculus. Not two minutes later, my body would stand, drawn of its own accord back to the refrigerator, as my mind dulled its resistance. Just one more little bite. I was a moth to a light, I flapped my wings but could not stop. Back towards the container of calories, the guilt, today’s binge food. But my body turned the lid and opened the jar, dipping the spoon into the viscous sludge of fatty, carbladen-though-not-as-bad-as-all-the-other-things-in-this-fridge peanut butter, my lips closing in over the spoon, feeling the forbidden food trickle down my throat, loving it ten times more than the allotted tablespoon.


And then I got a headache. More than once. Because it was coincidence or binge eating or stress or I was actually allergic. I still don’t know. Though I’ve grown out of eating disorders, I still avoid peanut butter on my better days. Perhaps I’m allergic to my own habits. In college and after, I was gluten free—for headache reasons, of course. It had nothing to do with a reactionary strictness to spending a semester eating only cookies in the dining hall. Now, in graduate school, I’ve stopped drinking. I know I’m probably allergic to chocolate; every time I eat half a cake all by myself, an hour later my head explodes. When I’m stronger I’ll give that up too. Or perhaps it’s sugar that’s the culprit, the spikes in insulin that make my head begin to pound and my stomach churn. These are all written in the literature; they’re all real triggers, real sensitivities. These avoidances may actually be helping, when I stick to one or all. And I’ll always have medical books as arsenal if you question my judgment, and I’ll call them sensitivities—not allergies—if you point out that I’m gluten free but eating bread. My mother, my greatest advocate, believer, and policer of my assertions, is now the only one who still believes that I am actually allergic to peanuts. When I come home for holidays, she stocks the fridge with almond butter and gluten-free snacks.


Big Ugly Girl Part I Sonya Groves

All of us have demons. Mine is a short imp with brown hair and brown eyes. Even today I see your raging fists and swinging uvula with each pass of a mirror. I should have shoved your face into a chain link fence when I had the chance. You were the object of my first crush, my initial longing of desire. I chased petite blonde fans away, pushed them down to the ground. My competition destroyed, I stalked you like a huntress, you were my prey, my heart’s snack. No one told my eleven year old soul that tall girls don’t chase short boys. No one told my eleven year old heart that tall girls can crush only on tall boys. No one told my eleven year old mind that tall girls hurt more from the smallest stinger. Blind with my adrenaline fueled lust, I tracked you to your front lawn. Smiling at my victory, I pinned you at an oak tree. “Kiss me,” I demanded blithely believing you wanted to. You screamed instead, told me to go, to leave. Confused, distraught, I backed away to a chant: “You’re a big ugly girl, You’re a big ugly girl, You’re a big ugly girl, You’re a big ugly girl. No one will ever want such a big ugly girl.” Into the street blinded by tears I ran home. The devil never mocked me again and I never chased a boy again. The devil’s incantation affixed. Oh cruelty, Steve be thy name.


Big Ugly Girl Part II Sonya Groves

I can’t remember whose house we went to after graduation that year. Beer and shots flowed loosening teen libidos. Three beaus to choose from, my summer looked promising. I looked up at the three, thinking I could do them all, no one would be the wiser but me. From behind them appeared an imp. Still short, a genetic joke with brown eyes and brown hair. My triumvirate evaporated, my heart sank at the imp’s power to destroy. “What are your plans for the summer,” he asked. My heart thudded and jerked. “Nothing special,” I stammered. I looked to the stars, no help from the gods. I looked to the grass, no snake that might attack. I begged the moment to pass, to free me of my possessor. He moved closer, his face I could not avoid, he looked up at me slowly, tilted his head as if studying something bright. “Do you think you might want to go out sometime?” Brain stuttered for a moment, I let out a scream, then laughed like the devil was me. “What did you say? What do you want? But I’m a big ugly girl, I’m a big ugly girl, I’m a big ugly girl, I’m a big ugly girl.”


“Holy Astringent Plum-Like Fruit!” said Robin. Sonya Groves

I am not a young boy. I am not a homosexual. I am not in love with my partner. I am not into costume play. I am not fond of gadgets, I leave that for the lout in latex. I am not happy with bubble subtitles, but have no choice due to union writers. I am not enjoying the career that I’ve chosen, but the money is too good to give up. I am a classically trained actress whose now type caste as a sidekick. I am knitter by hobby, “Holy knit one pearl two!” I am tired of binding my breasts, I’m not Yentl ya’ know. I am into wearing pink, flowers, and high heels. I am happily married to an accountant. I am an ordinary heterosexual. I am a 40 year old mother - with the body of a boy.


Elba in Red

Clinton Van Inman


Strawberries Rosie Garland

My mother buys packs of Kotex the size of pillows, leaves them on my bed. I don’t open them. Don’t need to. Don’t want to talk, however often she screws up her forehead and tips her head to one side, like her neck’s been snapped. I’m the only one in class without this excuse to get off Phys Ed. I skip lunch, pound my body round the track while they sneak cigarettes and gasp as Sharon coughs up every sticky detail of doing it with that guy from freshman year . School Nurse says it’s nothing and anyway, some girls are late developers. But I wasn’t, says Mom and her eyes do that thing, how she’s afraid for me. How I’m not a real woman: one who swells into hothouse fruit, huge but flavourless; like those strawberries we got at Christmas. I held them under running water, twisted off the green stems, fingers stained with juice.


Gum

Karen Little

You hate your flesh and want to diminish it, whittle yourself down to a place where there are no folds for me to rummage in, no hiding places for my fingers amongst the fleshy folds. There was a time when I saw the armadillo plating around you, saw the digging I would have to do to reach your bones, to excavate. You’re in competition largely with yourself, addicted largely to yourself. A narcissist with the desire to humiliate, there is quite a connection between your faulty logic and superhero stance. But your stripes don’t make you a sergeant. Buckled to the waist I take shelter from your acid tantrum approach your dark spattering with a plastic sheet. We’ve already walked the echoing valleys, tasted the fruit of foreign parts, stamped on mangoes, scooped out avocados, desiccated coconuts. And always the gum, sometimes chewed and lumpy, sometimes flattened and foot-printed, pink, smells sweet in the mouth but sour on the pavement, yellow and stringy, older and more hopeless.


The girl who broke the spell Lucie Britsch

My friends are all watching their weight I’m watching Neighbours They missed the whole Harold back from the dead thing They started slowly Cutting things out Emma gave up chocolate Sarah gave up lunch all together They spent their free time in front of the mirror Even the school bathroom ones which are gross Fat Suzan wiped a booger on it one time They pinch imaginary inches Prod their pores I’m giving up mirrors instead I’m cutting back first If someone asks if I got dressed in the dark I will tell them I did And I will let my mum brush my hair She will think its Christmas or I’m pregnant When I go to the bathroom I avert my eyes from the mirrors I look at my hands as I wash them I do sneak a peek at myself in the reflection of my spoon at lunch I spend the afternoon wondering how I got so concave Is that what crème eggs do too you? I decline a toffee on the way home so as not to add to my sudden roundness The next day I catch a glimpse of myself in the science block window I try not to think about the girl I saw I try to think about the girl I am We go clothes shopping on Saturday I don’t try on anything but buy a sweater I like the sweater If I tried it on I would find fault with myself and not get the sweater It doesn’t seem fair to the sweater When I get home my mum tells me I have food on my forehead I let her lick a tissue and wipe it off She is happy Then she is suspicious It gets easier for me but my friends are struggling Emma went on a rampage and ate someone’s cookery project I do find myself slipping sometimes But I stop myself What good would it do? What can I do about what I see? I have learnt to smooth my hair with my hand if I feel it needs taming Applying lip balm took some attempts I assumed I knew where my lips were but turns out my hand has other ideas Emma passed out in math


As soon as she came round she ran to the bathroom to see how flat her stomach was Someone had drawn a penis on the mirror but she didn’t seem to mind the temporary tattoo on her flesh I expect I will be lured back to the dark side That a boy will cause me to run back to my old ways But I hope not I like being free from one spell at least


Toti O’Brien

Sisters


Progress

Morgan Davis

I cannot believe we are here again. We’re sitting in the middle of the kitchen with some of our old friends. There’s the box of doughnuts, the family size bag of chips, and the pizza that your mom was saving for lunch tomorrow. They’re all gone now, of course. You devoured them! You disgusting pig, if you had any self-control we wouldn’t have to do this every other night. I gave you a full three hundred calories to eat today. 300. But, you still had to give in to your animal urges. I can’t possibly be any easier on you. Don’t you have any respect for your mother? Don’t you realize how disappointed you make her by being the living representation of failure? Don’t you care? I don’t think you do. In fact, even with your mother and I trying to encourage you at every step, you have continued to fail. We’re just trying to help you. You know she would tell you the exact same thing I am if she knew. What was that? What are you going to do? You’re going to get it up, obviously. I want you to turn on the shower this time like I told you. We don’t want your dad getting worried again. After all, like your mother says, he’s just impeding progress.


Toti O’Brien

Signature


Ana made me do it Neha Jain satisfaction dines with abstinence seeks solitary emaciation pending diagnosis validation from success of 70 is the new dangerous thighs weren’t made to touch ipecac stashed with kate dictates model behavior like a rehab bucket list proof‌ i die better than she does


Chart of Accounts Rajpreet Sidhu

my hands are stained with crimson and dust from old books beneath my double bed where my toes crack and betray me but i can’t tell you where the dried fruit comes from my thighs rival thunder and i will not learn to love them i held my hair back the other day when vomiting. wild and tangled, and i’m not going to brush it. don’t let white people tell you how to feel; let the black frizz haunt them my collarbones are sprinkled with stardust and my knees are breathing royalty and my back is growing lilies and white petals dance on my finger tips and where the sky meets periwinkle is my elbow and coffee without milk are my astral eyes and i will do as devils do. fall is etched across my chest in black licorice. the water tells me it’s going to be okay and i don’t believe the drops but my inked splattered feet cry i think of my achilles heel and of the tears gracing achilles checkbones as he kneels in the soaked grass of hades. i follow his rage but the girl with bruised knees and summer rainboots doesn't need his permission to be angry.


I Didn’t Give Up Easily Liz Dolan

Wine-sopped, wafer thin, I dervisheddrunk, a faith felon questing to be unfettered, flung spirit in this fleshy, flabby world. I teetered on a steep cliff until I buttered bread and fondled sweet earth again. But not Terry McKenna, thirty pounds fatter, -a prodigal postulant with too much flareon the night she returned, and daisied in her mother’s house dress, she savoyed at the Inwood Lounge and quaffed foamy beers chased by succulent nuts. She told me: I’m dying here; you are, too. But I persevered, purging out the old leaven, taking on the new man, the white veil of the novice.


Fat in the Can Liz Dolan

On the shady back porch of his summer home, Uncle Dan, even and easy like my mother, constructs a lamp from wooden matchsticks. Calls me Crisco. Aunt Mary cuts chunks of gelatinous lard into the flour in the vermilion bowl. I am eleven, in t-shirt and shorts, and click my Wrigley’s. I cringe and shrink from him. Nine years later, as I take the novice’s white veil, he stands proudly next to me, my starved body swallowed by the folds of a lily-colored linen gown and scapular, my thick hair shorn, my face as pallid as a scone. At five the Sisters chose me to crown the Virgin Queen of the May. She was elegant, imperially slim, unlike my full-breasted mother, whisking the stir-about, mewling babies on each hip. Her brother Dan, still single, reading The Daily News, slurps cereal and sips from a china cup the tea she brewed for him. She was a slave. Each day in school the Virgin loomed above us her exquisite hands outstretched, index finger beckoning me. One by one we dropped our daisies– her perfected foot crushing the head of the serpent.


sucky vs. kinda cool Christine Tierney

sucky -2 bony girls and one chubby girl have a picnic in the woods. -when the chubby girl reaches into the picnic basket for a chips ahoy cookie her butterball mitt is met by a nettlesome garter snake. -the chubby girl shrieks and hurls the picnic basket into the air. -the 2 bony girls shriek too. -the chubby girl shrieks like a hippo being pulverized by a tractor and the 2 bony girls shriek like a chirpidy hummingbird with a tickle in its slender throat. -all 3 girls run like heck leaving the picnic basket to fend for itself. -when the chubby girl runs her belly jiggles like a big disgusting bowl full of aunt ellen’s-we-know-you-never-wash your-hands swedish meatballs. -at home the chubby girl begs her adonis brother to retrieve the picnic basket for her. -the chubby girl’s adonis brother tells her to get lost because he is busy pumping iron and staring at himself in the smudgy hallway mirror. -the chubby girl wails like a pig with its foot caught in a steel trap and her adonis brother ignores her. -the 2 bony girls (who by the way, are both madly in love with the adonis brother) snicker at the blubbering chubby girl and then head home. -dusk looms and the picnic basket remains in the woods. kinda cool -the chubby girl tromps out to the woods to rescue the picnic basket even though she is shakin’ in her better-not-scuff-em-before-the-start-of-school thom mccan’s. -when the chubby girl spots the picnic basket her heart pitter-patters and her whole tenderloin body feels woozy. -after a good think, the chubby girl decides to leave the picnic basket in the woods because her fear of snakes trumps her need to be brave. -at home the chubby girl makes a mini-hot fudge sundae with extra walnuts and watches hr pufnstuf on tv. -during the commercial break the chubby girl sneaks into the adonis brother’s bedroom and spits a wad of fudgephlegm into one of his tube socks and shoves it in between his mattress and box spring. -night scurries in and the nettlesome garter snake slips back into the abandoned picnic basket for a deep unruffled sleep.


Just Another Day in ‘82 Christine Tierney

The dad is out in the yard yanking weeds. He plucks only three among millions, pulls a pack of Winston’s From his chest pocket, lights one, and sucks in the pain. The mom is inside viciously crocheting While the pot full of Brussels sprouts bubbles over in the Kitchen. In minutes he will drag his gin-red-face inside And force her to pray over food she despises. The daughter is in her bedroom staring at a half naked poster of Matt Dillon. Her diary is open and there are three red lines underneath The words “diet” and “kill myself.” The smell of Brussels Sprouts is making her gag, so she jabs a rusted Diaper pin through her cottage cheesyThigh and bleeds.


Diana Smith Bolton

You Are R. Crumb and I, Angelfood McSpade. Your bony knees dent the ground as you stroke my thighs, your cock swinging like a pendulum. You pant and fog your glasses, tongue slipping out. The enormity of my body crushes the blanket into the earth, pressing the grass under my hips and feet like a grotesque Angelfood crop circle. Your crescent moon hands will grope and paw until you find something to hold on to.


The Sommelier Says Diana Smith Bolton

Women need to be rolled on the sides of the glass, like ocean twisting under sky’s sheets, a ripple mirroring the moon. Body should be large. The best was a Hawaiian, no more than twenty, scent of leaves and star fruit, notes of chestnut, water lily, hyacinth, aftertaste like the chime of a silver bell.


Hunger

Diana Smith Bolton

 To Caroline Knapp I kneel before the refrigerator, a penitent sinner. To be thinner, there are nights like this: the body’s tight pain wailing for fullness, anything else to suppress. The warning is empty next to thoughts that follow, holding thin like belief, white flag shivering a twig.


Jill Ness

Layers


Taming the Wild Tummy or How I Dropped My Spanx in a Flower Bed Andrea Hansell

Tummies run in the family on my mother’s side. Not cute, slightly rounded tummies, but enormous fleshy mounds reminiscent of the Venus of Willendorf. I imagine that in some Eastern European village hundreds of years ago, my dumpling-shaped ancestors walked around feeling good about their bodies because everyone they saw had the same protruding bellies. Unfortunately, some relative of mine decided to move to the United States where her descendants would be confronted with a culture that valued matzoh-flat middles. My grandmother told stories of binding her torso with rags during the Roaring Twenties so she could fit into skinny flapper dresses. She tried in vain to make her long pearl necklace hang free and not get looped around the mound of her tummy. In the fifties and sixties, my mother and aunts stuffed their overflowing bounty into panty girdles. These stiff, flesh-colored garments, to which stockings were attached with round metal clips, compacted their torsos so tightly that, as my girl cousins and I observed in fits of giggles, they made the cracks between their buttocks disappear. Years of watching my mother hold her breath and grimace as she tugged her girdle on to go to dinner parties, along with the ubiquitous Playtex “My girdle is killing me” commercials on TV, convinced me that I never wanted to wear this particular torture device. I hoped that by the time I came of age big bellies would be considered attractive. Or perhaps voluminous flannel nightgowns would become the new daytime fashion. I grew from a round little girl who was gently steered away from two-piece bathing suits to a pre-teen who, along with my mother, was strategically positioned behind tall plants in family pictures to “hide our bellies.” I would look at the slender image of Twiggy slinking across a billboard and yearn desperately to look like her, although I recall wondering where she stored her intestines. In adulthood I found a man who loved my tummy, or at least loved me despite my tummy. I dieted my way into a slim-cut wedding dress and


practiced sucking in my gut for weeks before the ceremony. But as soon as I had a ring on my finger I encountered a new problem. Everywhere I went, people, even people I didn’t know - a person walking a dog past my house, a waitress in a restaurant - would look directly at my waistline and say, “When are you due?” Clearly these people never read Dave Barry’s advice that you should never ask a woman if she’s pregnant unless you see a head crowning between her legs. Eventually I really did get pregnant - twice, in fact - and for a total of eighteen months of my life I felt attractive without worrying about holding in my tummy or how the waistlines of clothes hit me. But – surprise! – after my children were born my belly looked bigger than ever, only now it sagged and dimpled in ways it hadn’t before. I tried self-acceptance. I was a professional woman and a mother, I told myself, not a fashion model or a Barbie doll, and my body successfully did all the things it was supposed to do. But by then the starved ideal of Twiggy had given way to an emphasis on “toned,” and the models in magazines and actresses on TV all had taut tummies lightly rippled with muscle. It was hard to love my Pillsbury Doughgirl body while being constantly bombarded with these images. Then my husband was elected president of the Michigan Psychoanalytic Society. His election was to be announced at the organization’s fancy annual dinner at a country club in the tony suburbs of Detroit. I had attended this dinner before. I remembered feeling drab and underdressed in a black skirt and tailored blazer while the wives of psychoanalysts from Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills floated around in frothy dresses that sparkled under the chandeliers. As the new First Lady of the Psychoanalytic Society, I felt obliged to purchase a dress that was fancier than my work clothes. After much hunting, I found the dress. It was a shimmery black and gold silk brocade, with a matching jacket edged with delicate beading. The neckline flattered my face, and the colors brought out the gold tones in my brown hair. “I love it!” I said, pirouetting in front of the three way mirror outside the dressing room. The saleswoman frowned and looked down at my middle. I knew this look well; it was the look with which my female relatives scrutinized each other at family gatherings to see whose body had succumbed to what they called “The


Tendency.” Following her gaze, I saw that while the soft folds of the jacket hid most of my upper belly, there was a slight cantaloupe effect just below the jacket hem which distorted the designs in the fabric of the dress. “You need shapewear under that,” she said. “Shapewear?” I said. “Like…a girdle?” “Oh, no, like Spanx,” she said. Seeing my puzzled look she explained, “It’s the newest thing. It slims and shapes like a girdle, but it’s lightweight and comfortable. Oprah Winfrey is a huge fan. So is Gwyneth Paltrow.” I had a hard time imagining why Gwyneth would want to further compact her pencil body with shapewear, but I could relate to Oprah. “Shall I bring you a few different types in your size?” the saleswoman offered. I nodded. The name Spanx, with its suggestion of spanking and skanks, had me picturing lacy, naughty looking lingerie. The packages the saleswoman brought to me were decorated with pictures of slinky models and labeled with winkwink names like “Slimcognito,” and “Trust Your Thinstincts.”

I selected the

package labeled “Hide and Sleek,” thinking that my grandfather, who had peddled ladies’ panties for pennies during the Great Depression, could have bought a month’s worth of inventory for the price of this one undergarment. When I pulled the Spanx out of the box I saw that it was no flirty little panty, but a hefty black casing that would armor me from bust to knee. It felt rubbery and ungiving, like a Goodyear tire, or, I hated to say it, like my mother’s girdle. Anyone trying to spank a pert bottom clad in this contraption would surely break a finger or two. I knew I should try it on. But by that point I felt self-conscious and exhausted, and had a dawning awareness that I was the designated driver of my daughter’s gymnastics carpool today and had no business leisurely perusing shapewear in a fancy store. “I’ll take the dress and the Spanx,” I said, retrieving my credit card from the depths of my messy purse. On the evening of the big dinner, my husband came back from picking up the babysitter to find me engaged in an epic battle to stuff my bulk into the Spanx. “Are you sure that thing is the right size?” he asked. “Yes,” I said. “I just need a Mammy to lace me into it.”


Spurred to heroic action by the humiliation of being observed, I took a few deep breaths and tugged the Spanx into place. Still holding my breath, I slid the dress over my head and buttoned the jacket. And - oh, Spanx, my new fairy godmother! - I was utterly transformed. I looked around for my coachman and chariot, then settled for my husband and his Honda Accord. No First Lady of the Michigan Psychoanalytic Society ever made a grander entrance then I did that night. I glided into the elegant ballroom at the country club, where my dress was pronounced “stunning” by the analysts’ wives whose names I could never remember. As I sipped my gin and tonic during the cocktail hour, I kept looking down in awe at my smooth flat midsection. The problem started at dinner. My Spanx clearly did not want me to sit down in the straight-backed dining chair at my assigned table. It resisted folding, and paid me back for forcing it to change its natural stiff shape by gripping my torso so firmly and uncomfortably that it seemed to grow teeth and claws. No longer my fairy godmother, it became Maleficent, the Snow Queen, the Wicked Witch of the West. Above the top of it, just under my bosom, a screaming roll of flesh escaped its grasp and pushed up against my bra. A similar roll attempted a jail break at the bottom, just above my knee. The rest of me, alas, remained captive. I bit into a warm, fragrant piece of sourdough bread, chewed, swallowed, and felt the smooth starchy ball lurch to a stop in the portion of my esophagus just above my Spanx. I burped loudly. “Are you OK?” the woman next to me asked. “Yes,” I mumbled. “Just, umm, not that hungry.” I pushed my food around on my plate and decided to go with liquids only. That was a mistake. The wine went straight to my head and the water went straight to my bladder, which had shrunk to a tenth of its normal size under the pressure of the Spanx. I was about to excuse myself to go to the ladies’ room when my husband was called to the podium. I sat through the ensuing long speeches trying desperately not to pass out or wet my Spanx. When my husband thanked his lovely wife and all eyes turned momentarily towards me, I gamely flashed a smile that felt like a grimace. The minute the applause died down and people pushed their chairs back from the tables, I hobbled off to the ladies’ room.


The Spanx was almost as hard to get off as it was to put on. Once it was safely down around my ankles I knew that there was no question of wedging myself back into it. I had deep red welts in my flesh where it had bitten into me. My liberated belly was channeling Lynyrd Skynyrd and singing out that it was free as a bird now, and this bird you cannot change. I slid the Spanx off over my shoes, wadded it into a stiff ball, and tried to stuff it into my little black dress purse. This worked as well as trying to feed an elephant to a mouse. I decided impetuously that since I’d never wear it again, I might as well throw it away, fifty dollar price tag be damned. As I was about to take aim for the discreet little hole in the marble countertop through which classy country club ladies tossed their used paper towels, the ladies’ room door opened. “Congratulations!” I heard from a velvety throat as high heels clicked their way across the floor to me. I quickly shoved the wad of Spanx inside my jacket and under my arm – my right one, since my purse was over my left shoulder. “Thank you, Carol,” I said. (Was it Carol? Or Kathy? I hoped it was Carol.) Then murmuring that I had to go find my husband, I dashed out the door, Spanx ball firmly clasped between my arm and my side. My husband was standing in the long line for the valet parking. As we stood there, one couple after another came up to congratulate us and shake our hands. With my right elbow pinned to my side to keep the Spanx secured in my armpit, I could only give little flipper handshakes. I thought I must look like my neighbor’s corgi when it was given the command “paw” and stuck its short leg out from its barrel of a body. But an odd hand shake was far preferable to having my Spanx tumble out and land on someone’s shoe. The car was brought, the valet tipped, and I finally shifted the Spanx to my lap. Still feeling the effects of drinking on an empty stomach, as well as my liberation from sadistic undergarments, I was cheerful and chatty on the way home. When my husband offered me an after dinner mint he had taken from the valet stand, I said, “No, spanx,” and laughed heartily at my own joke, my newly freed belly shaking with mirth. “What’s up with you?” my husband said. “You usually hate these dinners.”


“I guess I overdid the wine,” I said, and to be generous, added, “And I’m happy that you’re happy. Congratulations, Mr. President.” An hour later, while my husband drove the babysitter home, I sat in the kitchen smearing apple slices with peanut butter to make up for my skipped dinner. It occurred to me that I no longer had the Spanx. What had I done with it after transferring it to my lap in the car? Had it turned into a pumpkin at midnight? The front door opened and my husband walked into the kitchen. He was gingerly holding my black Spanx like it was some kind of injured animal. “Lose something?” he said. “Where was it?” I asked. “Heather found it in the yard on the way out to the car.” “Oh, god,” I said. “What did she say?” “She said, “Excuse me, Mr. Hansell, but I found this in your flower bed.’” “And you said…?” “I said, ‘Oh, that’s Mrs. Hansell’s underwear. She was wearing that earlier tonight.’ Heather seemed really embarrassed. Should I not have said ‘underwear’ in front of a fourteen year old?” I gave him a look. “What?” he said. “Do you think maybe she was embarrassed because she thought you undressed me in our front yard?” “Oh,” he said. “I didn’t think of that.” He tossed the Spanx onto the table next to the peanut butter jar and put his arms around me. “Why did you wear that thing, anyway?” he said. “You look fine without it. Care to join me in the flower bed?” “Yes, spanx,” I said.


Dress Form

Elizabeth Alphonse

Shapely outline, like a woman. Naked, usually: breasts attentive in the corner of the room, waist and hips adjustable at the turn of a dial. Gray in color, petite neck and shoulder line, announcing a figure that must be true of all women: Hourglass, no legs —femininity abundant. On it hangs a dress, a darker gray, vintage, a bow at the waist, an ungracious neck line. Hem and sleeves pinned for adjusting, to be shortened for a modern look. A woman alone in the room, waist and hips unalterable, tries to fit into the dress, torn from the form— her imperfections unmuted as the zipper staggers up.


Express Mannequins Grow Brains Elizabeth Alphonse

Express has given their mannequins foreheads, and behind that I imagine brains. I also imagine the brains came first, and those corporate merchandisers realized how unappealing open brains atop skull-less mannequins can be to the consumer, and did something. It must have been exposure to those smart-looking twenty, thirty-something casual business outfits, shortened chevron pencil skirts and lacy cut-out blouses that shout we’re still cool, and moan office jobs are sexy that caused the brain growth. They still stand, however, erect, appendages akimbo, plastic hands at the waist, jutting bony pelvises at window shoppers, lacking backbones, and thinking of how nice it would be to have better posture and fingers that spread.


Janne Karlsson

Tattoos & Gravity


Janne Karlsson

The Scent of Loneliness


Tasty Treat

Samantha Reid

I'm supposed to loathe my muffin top, Cringe at the sight of my cottage cheese, Hide my ham hock thighs, Be ashamed of my chicken legs. Why do all my parts Whet the appetite of body shaming? Why not embrace my mismatched melons? Or adore my string bean shape? Can I appreciate the rise of my doughy belly? Am I wrong to admire my oversized buns? Which tasty treat should I resemble To sate your insatiable craving?


Ode to Full-Fat Dairy Products Allyson Whipple

At the grocery I accidentally grab a tub of fat-free yogurt, don’t realize the mistake until I’m home. What’s it to me, really? A week of something healthier, I guess, if you believe that fat is the devil. Which I sure did, when I was less sure of myself, more afraid of my size, back when I believed those lies: that I was unlovable if I was curvy, and that diet foods were the best for you. But life went topsy-turvy as I grew up, learned a thing or two about just what processed foods could do, and I embraced whole milk, full-fat cheese, decided to eat just what I pleased, and it turns out I didn’t do too bad, that when I gave up every fad diet, every plan designed to make me thin, when I decided I couldn’t win that war and still be happy, because deprivation has never yielded up much inspiration, turns out I didn’t give in to ice cream every day, let my body dictate the way it wanted to eat, and I’m not dead, and maybe I’m not skinny, but I’d rather be well-fed, than meet some ad exec’s notion of perfection. Yes, feminists have written about the Photoshop infection that ruins everyone’s self-esteem, that makes us reject butter, cream, and carbs and booze and everything fun, never allowing for indulgence (in moderation) and maybe it’s not political, just personal— but you’ve heard that old chestnut. So here’s my call: here’s to fat. Three cheers to dairy. Love it all you want, for someday you’ll be dead, wasted, gaunt.


Homage to my hips (After Lucille Clifton)

Allyson Whipple

These hips are where the power is and I don’t mean for seduction and I don’t mean for childbirth (though both are true, but what’s also true is the way folks assume that a woman writing about her hips is talking about sex or babies or both) No, I mean these hips unmistakably curved and soft are where all the force lies when I square them up while I’m sparring how one twist of them drives the entire punch


Amaranthia Sepia Gittens-Jones

Patience


Special C

Katherine Malhame

The summer before my oldest sister went to college she was trapped in a cereal box and I couldn’t get her out. I am my family’s “fixer” or “problem solver” and she stumped me. Claire has a warped perception, but that summer it was that the only constant in her life was Special K cereal. She ate that cereal for breakfast, lunch (if she had it), and dinner every day. Being inside a cereal box must be dark, must be lonely. Her vision of her body was blurred. She was eighteen at the time and I was fifteen. She was 5’7” and one hundred pounds, I was 5’4” and one hundred and twenty pounds. We would often go to the beach together that summer. She would watch me eat lunch while she sat there consuming nothing and then we would head down to lay by the water, where her bathing suit would be falling off her body. I don’t know if it was the ocean breeze, or her ribs protruding through her skin that gave me the chills. I remember sun bathing with her when I abruptly noticed just how much of a flake of cereal she had come to be, so thin and fragile. Under my breath I urgently told her that her bathing suit was loose, exposing her. She looked down at her suit bottoms resting on her hipbones with nothing but fabric freely maneuvering with the ocean winds. Then she looked at her top, which was not showing much since she had starved her breasts away. I think she had bigger boobs in middle school than she did lying on the beach with me that day. After checking her garments she smirked at me and shrugged with a sense of pride that even a tiny bikini could no longer fit her. In the cereal box that summer she made crumbs out of her relationships with people, stomping around the box crushing any flakes close to her until all she had was herself. Her high school’s tradition was to have a picnic in the summer in which everyone from the graduating class would reunite and receive their yearbooks. My sister didn’t attend the picnic for her graduating class, deciding to go to the gym instead. It’s hard for me to understand how she picked working out over


creating memories and collecting memorabilia. Considering one of her best friends was the editor in chief of the yearbook it’s safe to say she lost nearly all connections to her high school friends after she ditched that picnic. At least she still had her childhood friends… right? Well, I’m still not sure where they stood with her that summer. One morning my middle sister and I headed down to the beach, where Claire would meet up with us later, after going to the gym. When we walked down to the water we saw Claire’s childhood friends Annie and Liz, who called us over to sit with them. They asked about where she was and made comments about how she had been M.I.A. lately and flaky on plans. We told them she was at the gym and that she’d been closed off to us too. By my sister and I agreeing that Claire had been missing and inconsistent, her longtime friend Annie voiced her opinion. Annie remarked, “UGH. That girl doesn’t make the time of day for any of us anymore, it’s Claire’s world, we’re just living in it.” Feeding off of Annie, my middle sister remarked about how Claire had been getting mad at her for no reason lately and how she acted like every problem stemmed from her. Annie assured my sister that she’d knock some sense into Claire. From a more reserved point of view, Claire’s friend Liz commented, “Yeah it’s funny we’re always wondering what she’s been up to lately, I haven’t talked to her much.” Liz closed her comment with a forced giggle, masking that she is truly hurt by Claire’s absence. I sat there in silence, toiling the sand with my finger thinking about how my sister’s hanger (anger from being hungry) is causing distance between her and her friends. I tried as hard as I could to pull her out of that cereal box. Every time I tried to grab the bag out of the box, the mass of her anorexia sunk it back down. I guess I could have mentioned that 20 million women suffer with anorexia at some point in their lifetime in the United States, or that it could lead her to an early death, but instead I just tried to be her sister. I made efforts to ask her to go out to get meals together, hoping she would eat. She would often agree to the plans, only to flake and stay home with her Special K cereal. I could see how her friends had dwindled, so I tried to be available for her. I tried to understand, but it did not make sense to me why she wanted her body to


disappear or why she was letting her relationships disappear too. My family members made her feel like an alien for not eating what everyone else ate, but I tried not to ostracize her. There was something wrong with her and pushing her away was not what my gut was telling me to do. My whole family held a heated discussion in which my parents told her she needed professional help. Convinced that she was not too skinny, rather not skinny enough she disagreed. The bickering went back and forth as I sat like a block of lead at the edge of the couch. The thoughts in my head were racing around like racecars on a track, thinking of all the responses I wanted to say but couldn’t. Then to my surprise my father, exhausted, asked me, “Kate do you think your sister is too skinny?” My blood boiled and a hot sensation came over my body as my face turned red. I stuttered and tried to gather myself. I was the only one who had not made Claire feel uncomfortable that summer so she added, “Yeah, Kate, what do you think?” I pieced together words, taking the middleman approach, validating both sides. I can’t remember what I said, but I have a vivid memory of the tense feeling of not wanting to add to the stress that her condition had already caused my family. The flaps of the cereal box started to open once she received treatment. Light seeped in which let her see herself again. Although Claire still has issues with her body image, she has come a long way from that summer. High school is a difficult time and causes adolescents to question themselves and their bodies. Since I was only starting my high school career when she had this problem, I used her as a lesson. I was able to love myself, and my body for what I was, and what my body was. I didn’t want to be a Victoria’s Secret model marching down the runway with twig legs and angel wings because I knew getting there would bring me to the dark cereal box of anorexia. The box is dark but I believe I can pull my sister out.


On a Good Day I Weigh 125lbs w.l.c.jacob

I've been thinning myself for months. Running my body through expensive meat slicers on display at the mall leaving behind scrapes of what I used to be hoping I'll end up with only the best parts of me. I've been peeling off histories like sunburns and I'm beginning to worry all this thinning may not be healthy. You can't cut out memories. But I keep thinning myself. I'm hoping to boil myself back down to birth. I'm hoping at some point a cocoon will collapse from around my bones & I'll emerge suddenly not too thin. I won't know who I am or why I've been unhappy. It won't be like a dream; it will be like a video game reset without a save point. I'll be fresh, un-calloused like a baby. I've been thinning myself and thinning myself and thinning.


Hungry Heart Rita Feinstein

I remember everything. I remember the shiny red toolbox where Mom kept her pastry torch and candy thermometer and frosting bags with assorted nibs. I remember the buche de noel and the lemon crepe with raspberry jam. The poinsettia hard candies cooling on wax paper. The glittering crust on the crème brulee. The loamy chocolate cake with marshmallow frosting. I remember the glazed fruit tart that wasn’t there in the morning because Mom had eaten the whole thing while we slept. I remember steamed carrots. I remember dried seaweed. I remember tofu, onions, zucchini, and raisins. I remember cutting the breading from my chicken and eating only the skin of my yam. I remember ordering green chile and sambhar I knew would be too spicy to eat. I remember eating, but I can’t remember what. I remember not eating. I remember not remembering. I remember drinking small soy chais that were mostly foam. I remember the cashier at Wild Oats weighing my salad box and asking if there was anything in there. I remember not understanding why people cried when they saw me. I remember the man who sidled up to me smooth as a leather cobra and asked if he could take pictures of me in his Airport Road apartment. I remember my therapist because she had floor-to-ceiling shelves of toys. Mom tried to explain that I looked like a Holocaust victim beneath my black peacoat, but my therapist was convinced that I was just small-boned. I liked that. I liked how she went along with my self-diagnosis of NQA—Not Quite Anorexia—and let me believe I was different from the starving, swooning masses. I hated being compared to other girls. I remember the energy worker Mom took me to one apocalyptically wintery morning. The energy worker laid me face-up on a massage table and ran her hands along my body without touching me. She found a fortress-like blockage in my heart chakra that she kneaded and pounded until I felt heaving sobs wrenching my chest open. She told me to forgive myself. She thought she


felt metaphysical warmth radiating from my feet, but when she opened her eyes it was just the space heater. I remember having to weigh myself in front of my entire Health class and not knowing that the BMI is total bullshit. My teacher told me I was at the high end of normal but not to worry because I still had time to slim down. I remember the boy who sat three desks down from me in AP English and wore a red silk scarf and too much makeup. I remember that he only liked skinny girls, but I can’t remember who told me that. I remember that he liked David Bowie, and I remember that I did too, but I can’t remember who liked him first. I remember telling Jess that I weighed 120 pounds, then weighing myself at home and being surprised that I weighed 92. I remember being very cold all the time and growing fur on my arms to make up for it. They call that lanugo. Such an ugly word. I remember not caring if I lived or died, or realizing that either one was an option. I remember going to bed immediately after dinner so I wouldn’t have to eat until morning. I remember being hungry anyway, and sometimes eating a piece of toast with raspberry jam to stop my heart from beating so loudly in my throat. I remember that my heart was the biggest part of my body. I remember that it wanted to live.


Deanna Pizzitelli

Mom I


Deanna Pizzitelli

Mom II


once the likes of me Ruth Sabath Rosenthal

facing away from the mirror dressing then steeling myself for my reflection readying the face facing each of my days that mask in place venturing out walking the city block by block hoping to find some vestige of my old self my red lips waxing into a faux smile invariably happening upon man after man eyeing one pretty young thing or another — once the likes of me and if catching a glimpse of me what they’d see is pretty much how i remember my mother towards the end of her life and there’s no escaping that


A Dark Subject Katina Pontikes

The subject I am about to discuss can’t be broached as polite conversation during dinner or even over a glass of wine. Perhaps if a group of women had decided to taste a fine tequila, and at least two shots were consumed, someone might bring this topic up. Even then, there would be much disagreement, and the topic might result in bruised feelings or at the least repulsion on the point by someone at the table. Good friends might find themselves passing judgment, unable to wipe out the thought at odd times in the future. Nonetheless, I find myself contemplating this topic quite a bit these days: Body hair. My earliest memory of hair taking on larger-than-life importance was in about the fifth grade. In my school photo I remember being shocked that my eyebrows had morphed into one object, a distinct shadow visible on top of my nose. My appearance had taken on a formidable and serious tone, adolescence rearing its angry countenance, stormy eyes staring out from the photo. I consulted my mother, who casually shared that it was time to pluck my brows. Plucking hairs, the burning sting as the tweezers yanked out hairs one by one, was painful, grueling and time consuming. A magnifying mirror was deployed so that each hair looked like a tree trunk, and the forest appeared to be healthy and unending. Sometimes a bloody dot stood where a hair had been eradicated, a reminder that pain was involved in this quest for a more feminine appearance. When I tired of plucking I learned about waxing. Molten hot, green wax was melted on the stovetop and applied with what looked like a large popsicle stick. Once the wax cooled, the edge was grabbed and zipped off with one forceful, agonizing jerk. Waxing was more efficient than plucking, and the pain was over more quickly. I felt like I had advanced in my beauty technique. Not long after this hairs began to appear on my upper lip. Waxing was deployed here too, lest I start to look like my idol Clark Gable, he of the handsome mustache. I feared a future as the circus woman I had stared at, with her dark,


thick mustache and beard, filing her nails in boredom as my friends and I gawked through the plate glass window at her hirsute visage. “Step right up! See the world’s hairiest woman, a freak of nature!” I hid my lip shadow from the world. I waxed religiously. Then electrolysis became an option. Thousands of dollars went to torturing myself with tiny electrical volts, promising to wipe out permanently all undesired hair follicles. Mind you, my eyes teared up with each voltage surge, my nose would run, and I would sneeze uncontrollably, requiring recovery breaks every few seconds. I suffered this indignity for years. When the hair down in the southern regions became verboten, I waxed there too. The process was far more dangerous, as there were delicate parts there one had to avoid. Later, I decided I was done with this region, and threw in the towel before expressions like Brazilian and Bikini came to describe varying levels of hair eradication. Controversy reigns when one talks about anyone choosing to let nature take its course in the private areas. In recent years I have become a huge fan of the late Frida Kahlo. I collect works of art featuring her dark browed face. Weeks ago, I paid a makeup artist to prepare me for a Mexican Independence party, where I had my hair done in top braids with flowers so that I might channel Frida. He worked hard to create the dark unibrow sported by Ms. Kahlo, the brow I would have possessed had I not eradicated all hair in my brow area. I explained to him that I would have had that feature, and my own faint mustache too, had I not been so eager with my beauty rituals long ago. Thick brows are now in vogue. Mine are all but invisible, and I wear makeup to fill in sparse patches. Silly are the trends that we humans adopt to attain the look of the moment, wiping out nature’s unique markings, our personal attributes.


3 Wheel rd

Mitch Green

Crooked teeth Cranked spine Swollen fingers Spent mind. Twisted gut Splintered skin Swallowed grins Sheltered in. Choking up Spitting rust Thinning buff Fucking love. 3 wheel Just as usual Fuck it all I’m the usable. rd


Contributor Notes Elizabeth Alphonse is a student at Missouri State University in Springfield. Her work can be found in NEAT, and she serves as an assistant editor for Moon City Review and a reader for Boulevard. She would love to know what you're reading. You can let her know on Twitter @bethalphonse. Megan Bush is from Juneau, Alaska and she is currently pursuing my MFA in Creative Nonfiction at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Her work has appeared in Tidal Echoes Journal and Cactus Heart Press. British born with Germanic roots (very different from Jamaican roots in the fun stakes) Lucie Britsch’s writing career peaked when she was a runner up in a poopscoop slogan contest as a child. She has been writing crap ever since. A liberal arts grad with a drummer boyfriend she has set herself up for a long career in failing but is the punch line to many a joke. Swings roundabouts. She lives in the middle of England with her more successful boyfriend on their imaginary farm where she is not writing 3 novels but enjoys procrastinating and collecting imaginary eggs. w.l.c. jacob writes poetry, fiction and reviews of both. Email him about anything at emailingjacob@gmail.com because he likes to receive emails. Morgan Davis is a writer from Butler, Georgia. She is currently studying at Georgia Southern University. Liz Dolan’s poetry manuscript, A Secret of Long Life, nominated for both the Robert McGovern Prize, Ashville University, and a Pushcart has been published by Cave Moon Press. Her first poetry collection, They Abide, was published by March Street. An eight-time Pushcart nominee and winner of Best of the Web, she was a finalist for Best of the Net 2014. She won The Nassau Prize for Nonfiction, 2011 and the same prize for fiction, 2015. She has received fellowships from the Delaware Division of the Arts, The Atlantic Center for the Arts and Martha’s Vineyard. Liz serves on the poetry board of Philadelphia Stories. She is most grateful for her ten grandchildren who pepper her life and who live on the next block. Rita Feinstein is an MFA candidate at Oregon State University, where she studies poetry and teaches freshman composition. Her work has appeared in The Santa Fe Literary Review, Menacing Hedge, and Moonshot Magazine, among other publications.


Novelist, poet and singer in post-punk band The March Violets, Rosie Garland’s award-winning poetry has been widely published. Her latest solo collection is ‘Everything Must Go’ (Holland Park Press), based on her experience of throat cancer. Her debut novel ‘The Palace of Curiosities’ was published by HarperCollins UK in March 2013 and second novel, ‘Vixen’ is out now. http://www.rosiegarland.com/ 15 year old Amaranthia Sepia (Eternal Brown Flower) Gittens-Jones is a homeschooled artist. She attended Pal International School and Nischimachi International School, Tokyo, Japan 2004-2006. Currently, Amaranthia is homeschooled in the USA. Amaranthia gave herself the artist name'AmaSepia Chan' at age eight and declared that she was going to become an artist. She has been on a focused and disciplined mission to achieve her goal since then. Amaranthia was awarded a full scholarship at Kimball Jenkins at age 12. She attends adult art classes, including the human figure. Amaranthia is a monthly guest blogger for Iamthatgirl.com a non-profit organization for the empowerment of teens and young women. She makes yearly art donations to help individuals and charitable organizations. Mitch Green has been featured in the Penmen Review, with such titles as: Volumes and Vermin. Other publications include – House of Haunts, Profanity Queens, and Human Hand Puppets. As well as ‘Infamous’ which is to be featured in Crab Fat Literary Magazine. Sonya Groves is a teacher of English in San Antonio. She has poetry publications in over 20 journals, the latest including La Noria, The Voices Project, Aries, and FLARE: The Flagler Review. Currently she is pursuing her Master’s degree in English at Our Lady of the Lake University. Andrea Hansell earned a creative writing certificate at Princeton University in 1979 and has published pieces in Lilith, The Ann Arbor News, and Mademoiselle Magazine. She completed her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 1990 and practiced as a psychotherapist in Michigan for many years. Currently she is taking classes at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and working full time on her writing. Neha Jain is an interior design student at LSU, where she is pursuing a minor in English. As a beginning poet, Neha finds experimenting with form to be stimulating and cathartic. Her first published work will be included in The Delta Literary Journal, LSU's undergraduate journal.


Janne Karlsson is a productive artist from Sweden whose dark and surreal poetry, comics and illustrations are widely spread over the world. His books and chaps are available at amazon and Epic Rites Press. When this wine sipping maniac isn´t busy drawing, he´s probably at the gym or spending time with his sons. Website: http://www.svenskapache.se/ Kate Leddy is a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst studying public health and journalism. She is president of the Active Minds UMass club and wants to pursue a career that advocates for awareness and education surrounding mental illnesses, specifically eating disorders. She also has a blog at www.PBisBetterThanED.com Karen Little trained as a dancer at London Contemporary Dance School, and as a sculptor at Camberwell School of Art, London. She has performed and exhibited internationally. Although she has regularly read and performed her work during the past three years, she has only recently started submitting it for publication. Her work has been published in Best of Manchester Poets, an anthology, Volume 3, East Jasmine Review, Bunbury Magazine and Otter Magazine. Katherine Malhame is a native of Garden City, New York, and she is currently an undergraduate student at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York. Marissa Mazek is an alumna of Barnard College, and she is currently a Creative Writing MFA candidate at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia. Her work has appeared in The Emma Press Anthology of Homesickness and Exile, Watershed Review, and The Rampallian, among others, and has received an Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train's December 2013 Fiction Open. Jill Lynne Ness is a writer and self-taught visual artist living in Minnesota with her daughter, Mikaela, and pets. Jill holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Emerson College in Boston. Currently, she leads a writing group at Bridgeview CSP in Fridley, Minnesota, a community support center for adults with severe and persistent mental illness, where she is also a member. A self-taught artist, Jill also displays and sells her visual art in multiple venues in the Twin Cities area. You can view her artwork at: http://www.mnartists.org/JillLynneNess Edward Palumbo is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island (1982). His fiction, poems, shorts, and journalism have appeared in numerous periodicals, journals, e-journals and anthologies including Rough Places Plain, Flush Fiction, Tertulia Magazine, Epiphany, The Poet’s Page, Reader’s Digest, Baseball Bard, Dark Matter, and poemkingdom.com. Ed’s literary credo is: if you fall off the horse, get right back on the bicycle.


Deanna Pizzitelli is a Canadian artist and writer. In 2011, she completed her BFA in Photography at Ryerson University in Toronto. In 2014, she completed her MFA from the University of Arizona in Tucson. Deanna has published her work in Function Magazine, Portfolio Eleven & Sonora Review. She participated in the 2010 and 2011 CONTACT Photography Festivals. Her work was recently shown with Stephen Bulger Gallery at Paris Photo 2014 & Classic Photographs LA 2014. Using a variety of analogue technologies, Deanna is interested in the contemporary expression of historical processes. She explores the emotional landscape as it refers to desire, eroticism, longing and loss. Deanna is represented by Stephen Bulger Gallery in Toronto. She currently resides in Bratislava, Slovakia. Toti O'Brien is an artist, writer and performer born in Italy and living in Los Angeles. Her art has been exhibited in the US and abroad since 1994. Some of her pieces appeared as illustrations on books, journals and zines such as Like A Girl, Speechless, Six Little Things, Istrio. Katina Pontikes is retired from the corporate world and divides her time between Houston and the Lake Chapala area of Mexico. She contemplates how much time she has squandered on absurd rituals, amazed at what she sees in life’s rearview mirror. Samantha Reid is an MA student at Georgetown University. She has a BA in English and Creative Writing from Brandeis University. Before attending Georgetown she spent several years in the restaurant industry; she is now seeking to combine her passions for food and literature. When Samantha is not reading for grad seminars she enjoys writing poetry and creative non-fiction. Ruth Sabath Rosenthal is a New York poet, well published in literary journals and poetry anthologies throughout the U.S. and also in Canada, France, India, Israel, Italy, Romania, and the U.K. In 2006, Ruth’s poem "on yet another birthday" was nominated for a Pushcart prize. Ruth has authored 4 books of poetry: “Facing Home” (a chapbook), “Facing Home and Beyond,” “little, but by no means small” and “Food: Nature vs Nurture.” These books can be purchased from Amazon.com (USA). For more about Ruth, “Google” her and please feel free to visit her website: www.newyorkcitypoet.com Rajpreet Sidhu’s heart beats for fallen empires, dead languages and love poets. Her yellow paint is writing with fountains pens and light filled museums. Currently, she is co-oping at law office and exploring her future options (which might including studying abroad). She has written for Queer Brown Collective,


Poetry Writer's Net, The Waterloo Region Record and Winter Tangerine Review.She hopes one day to take the empty train to the stars instead of downtown to shards of flowers. Diana Smith Bolton is the founding editor of District Lit. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Cactus Heart, Cider Press Review, Coldnoon, Jet Fuel Review, Lines + Stars, The Pedestal, and Punchnel's. She lives in northern Virginia. Christine Tierney’s work has been nominated for Best of the Net, a Pushcart Prize, and the Best New Poets anthology and has appeared in Fourteen Hills, Sugar House Review, Poet Lore, Skidrow Penthouse, theNewerYork, Lungfull!, Monkeybicycle, inter/rupture, The Boiler Journal, great weather for MEDIA and other cool places. You can read her work at http://christinetierneypoet.com. Clinton Van Inman was born in Walton-on-Thames, England. He graduated from San Diego State University, and has been an educator most of his life. He is currently a high school teacher (planning to retire at the end of the year) in Tampa Bay where he lives with his wife, Elba. Allyson Whipple is the director of the Austin Feminist Poetry Festival and vice president of Austin Poetry Society. She is the author of the chapbook We're Smaller Than We Think We Are and co-creator of the video game Choice: Texas. She teaches at Austin Community College, and in her spare time is pursuing a black belt in Kung Fu.

If and Only If: A Journal of Body Image and Eating Disorders, Issue 2.5  

A literary journal featuring poetry, stories, essays and artwork focused on body image and eating disorders

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