It was a satin blue dress. It was sleeveless, the kind of dress seen in the tabloids. A dress fit to be worn on the red carpet and photographed for the cover of Entertainment Weekly. It was a shade of blue reminiscent of the Duchess of Cambridge. Feminine and classy, it was the perfect coalescence necessary for her upcoming event. It was everything she dreamed of. When she took a deep breath, sucking in every cell of her body, the dress almost looked like it fit. It was a size 2. Two sizes too small, it wouldn’t zip over the curve of her ass.
“Dammit” she thought. Not only was the dress the epitome of elegance, it was equally the epitome of feminine aspiration. The ideal engrained in the essence of her being. The ideal that followed her like a shadow, the one she knew far too well.
Two. It became the magic number. Would she ever be a size two? Would she ever be so petite? Would she ever get to wear the highly esteemed dress?
She could have searched for a bigger size. She could have perused the larger, more fitting dresses. But large wasn’t something she could settle on. Large wouldn’t suffice. A size 6 wouldn’t feel the same. It wouldn’t soothe her troubled soul. The number on the tag was more than a numerical measurement. It was a measurement of value. It was the difference between discipline and gluttony, between self-esteem and self-hatred.
“No thanks, I’m not hungry,” became her anthem. Her mantra for the next week, she repeated it fervently. The blue dress became imprinted in her memory, idealized in the forefront of her brain. The admiration she would get, the men she would awe, if only she could wear that dress. If only she could shrink two sizes. She dreamt of waking up in the morning, magically smaller. She imagined harboring a supernatural power to sculpt her flesh. If only she could close her eyes and wish away the fat.
Fitting into the blue dress became a goal. But in a way, it became more than a goal. The thing is, goals are achievable. Goals have a measurable endpoint. But the achievement of an unattainable ideal, a societal illusion, this is no longer a goal. A goal had morphed into a chase. A quest for something disguised as thinness, she was in pursuit of a fleeting target.
Off she went, but not into the sunset. She started off on her endeavor that Sunday evening. She passed up the dark chocolate ice cream bar she so ardently craved. Her stomach growled. She went home and tucked herself into bed, intent on losing a few pounds by the end of the week. These first few days came and went. She almost passed out and couldn’t stop obsessing about food, but on the following Sunday, seven days after embarking on what would later mark the beginning of a most treacherous journey, she fit into the goddamn dress.
She could zip it all the way up and sit down comfortably, all without fear of busting through the seams. Her feet even shrank. She could walk comfortably in the glittery gold heels she bought during an imprudent online shopping spree. Her life felt a little more together, a little more in control, a little more survivable. She was high on the weightlessness, the feeling of emptiness in her stomach. She clutched her shrinking gut. The feeling was visceral. She knew what to do. She had to lose more. She had to keep skipping meals. She had to buy more Trident chewing gum. She conceded to continue forcing herself to ward off the signals her body was giving her.
Time passed onward. She didn’t end up fitting into the blue dress. The event quickly approached but in a moment of hunger and high emotion, she buried her feelings within the white two-door refrigerator sitting in her kitchen. She ate more than she ever imagined possible. Food had become a scarce commodity. Analogous to a feral animal fighting for food on the streets, she ate like it was about to be stolen from her.
She gained back all the weight, plus a small amount more. She found a new dress. A dress that was coral, it was long and rather undermining to her vivacious character. A dress that reminded her of her failure, it was a physical testament to her lapse in discipline. She wore the gold heels. Her feet suffered but the price she paid wouldn’t warrant leaving the pumps on her closet shelf. She did her hair and donned the dull coral gown. She sucked in her gut for the pictures. She turned at the right angle for the camera. The lingering voice in the back of her head persisted. “I’ll lose the weight again,” she thought. “Someday I’ll bare the blue dress.”
Someday, she hoped, she would be a size 2.