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    Posted June 26, 2013 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    First Person: Your essays

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    Girl in the Mirror


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     RedHairLady told me, 'What have I learned over time? To not let the people who set the societal standards define me. I've been wary of pop media most of my life, and giving in to the pressure of being 'thin' felt like selling out to me. I'd rather be large and loving it than thin and miserable, which is what I was. People I know care more about my cheery disposition than my dress size. Writing helped me figure that out as well. At my low point, which wasn't too long ago, I was conditioning myself to feel that hunger pains meant I was doing something right. I was getting so obsessive it affected my work. Then one night after dinner, I purged in my sister's bathroom, and she'd overheard me and told our mother. I felt like a waste, that I might not have even been human. It took a long time for me to snap out of it.'
    - hhanks, CNN iReport producer

    Mirrors are my enemy.

    I have lived the vast majority of my life hating my physical appearance. Overweight, with kinky red hair that has a life of its own, and thick glasses I’ve needed since I was seven. I was the antithesis of beauty, as far as I was concerned. They say that mirrors are a window to the soul. What havoc was my soul able to wreak, this monster standing before me?

    No one could ever love me.

    This was my way of thinking up until recently, and it was an idea that I had militantly drilled into my head since childhood, thanks to the media, as well as the criticisms of my family (though my mother was well-intentioned). The boys in school always walked around with their willowy arm candy, laughing at me as I turned a corner. I had friends, but I always felt that they’d judged me too.

    I’m an alien species.

    I was convinced of this every time I studied my body in the mirror. Human girls were small, delicate, and lovely. I always saw this creature of unfamiliar shape, size, and structure staring back at me, copying my movements. I had different abilities. My home was on a different planet in different star system. I was just waiting for my TARDIS to drop in my backyard to take me home.

    Society wants me to hide.

    Should I obey? Should I hide my fat? Should I straighten my hair and get contacts? Should I learn how to do ‘feminine’ hobbies like knitting or texting? Should I try to assimilate? Will that really change what I see in the mirror? Will it save my soul and make my future brighter? Will the people I attract be worth the effort? Will they be sincere? Will I be sincere?

    Who Am I Answering To?

    Me. I should only have to answer to myself. What do I think?

    My revelation occurs one average afternoon as I gaze at my image. I speak softly, my lips barely moving. I think I’m a person. I think there is more to me than meets the eye. I think I am a pacifist, a lover, an inspirer, a friend to animals, a sister, a daughter, a woman. My body is just my Tupperware container for all of these special things. The things you can’t see in a reflection.
    The mirror can’t tell me this. It doesn’t even speak. Only I can make the mirror speak.

    The mirror says, “Hate yourself.”

    I give it a death glare that could strike fear into the heart of a warlord.

    “Make me.”

    The mirror shatters. I finally win. I go to reward myself with a delicious plate of strawberries.

    **AUTHOR'S NOTE: I suffered (and continue to suffer) from Body Dysmorphia, and I have had past cases of bulimia and binge eating disorder. It is a daily uphill battle that writing, reading, and painting help me to defeat.**
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