In kindergarten gymnastics class I met my best friend, Elie. This girl was my soul mate! We shared everything from our lively humor, to our insecurities and terrible habit of comparing ourselves to everyone. In fifth grade we both made a competitive gymnastics team. We were so excited to do this together, and determined to become Olympic stars! On our first day of team practice, we immediately were put down by the skills of the other girls. Compared to us, and they were all so thin and skilled. When we looked in the mirror, we were the opposite of these beautiful thin girls. So, we decided to loose some weight. We cut out junk foods and dropped five pounds. But when I looked in the mirror, I looked as if I had gained weight, and Elie felt the same. The girls at gymnastics would never gain weight. So we restricted to only fruits and salad. People began to comment on our dropping weight, but we saw differently. We saw flaws, big, fat flaws, we needed to be thinner. Soon, Elie and I shared another thing, a diet of 250 calories a day. For a year our diets were hidden and obsessed over, we needed to be beautiful, we needed to be thinner. Counting calories and bitterness replaced our laughter and smiles. We prayed for bodies like those girls at gymnastics. Our parents noticed the change in our tiny bodies and forced us to eat. We were terrified to gain any weight; the beautiful girls in gymnastics did not gain weight, so we couldn’t. To make up for the extra food, Elie and I purged every ounce of food we ate. We became so thin and ill we were dropped by the gymnastics team. Our parents decided to send us away to separate rehab clinics. Elie spent two weeks in a coma after passing out at school, and I was fed by a tube for three weeks. This scared me, so in rehab, I worked on seeing myself as a beautiful person, and learned I don’t need to compare myself to everyone else. Though, Elie made no effort. For another five years I watched my best friend battle a violent eating disorder. She was disgusted with her body, She could not see herself for the shockingly thin she was. Elie still spoke of those girls from gymnastic and how if she could only look like them, she could be happy.
This past November 26th, my best friend Elie committed suicide. In a farewell letter I received she wrote, “It is never enough, I’ll never be happy with who I am, so why be anything at all?”
I lost my best friend because she couldn’t accept herself for the beautiful person she was, and together we lost years of our lives suffering from a terrible disease. I believe everyone should work towards accepting themselves, and knowing that perfect is only being the best person you can be.
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