On Missing Poptarts

Poptarts have actually always been my favorite food. When I was a little girl I would beg for poptarts, but then get so hyper from the sugar that I was running around the house and bouncing off of walls. So my mother stopped buying them, saving the pastry for special occasions.
As I got older, my love of Poptarts remained, but my relationship with food changed. At 13 years old, my eating disorder began creeping into my life. I had been repulsed by my body for as long as I could remember, and didn’t have the healthiest habits. I connected the dots, and my chronic-perfectionist brain decided to ‘fix’ the problem.
What began as just ridding my diet of overly sugary or fatty items and replacing them with whole foods, quickly turned into obsessively tracking every calorie and body-checking at every chance. The first time I scanned a poptart nutrition label after changing my lifestyle, i cried. I just… couldn’t. One pastry is usually 200 calories, and loaded with sugar. To put that in perspective: for almost a year of my life I only allowed myself 600 calories (often less) in a day.
A treat that I once adored as a carefree child, was villianized by my new warped mindset of the world. I wouldn’t ‘allow’ myself any food of that nature. The only time I dared eat one was with a friend at a competition in 9th grade. Later that night, my throat tightened at the memory, tears from my consuming guilt breaking free.
I’m in recovery now, desperately trying to undo the damage I inflicted on my body. But the fear won’t go away. I still can’t bring myself to eat a Poptart.

pretty hurts

pretty hurts.
it’s an old saying,
as a little girl,
i just thought it meant
uncomfortable heels,
blisters from flats,
tight dresses,
or pierced ears


it’s funny how much truth
a silly old phrase can hold.

pretty hurts
this is drilled into our brains
the belief
beauty comes at a cost,
a parasite
that roots itself
little by little,
as little girls grow.

pretty hurts
the pangs of hunger
you willfully ignore,
because pretty girls
skip lunch.

pretty hurts
when you pinch
at the fat
on your waist
your legs
your wrist even,
until skin breaks.

pretty hurts
a pounding headache
you get
trying to study
but you can’t focus
because your stomach can’t comprehend why it’s so empty.

pretty hurts
shivering so hard your ribs ache,
always so cold
freezing to the bone
because seeing your bones
is all you care about anymore.

because pretty hurts,
being pretty
being skinny
being fragile
being sick,
it’s worth it.

and wanting to be pretty
transforms itself,
into insatiable perfectionism.
never thin enough.
never light enough.
you know you’re dying
but you can’t stop,
pretty is supposed to hurt,

pretty hurts
your purple fingernails,
hair falling out in clumps.

pretty hurts
staring at size 0 models,
hours on end,
ashamed you don’t look like a goddamn stick.
page after glossy page
people praising
celebrities for slimming down,
and throwing up.

is this what we are teaching?
teaching little girls
that thinner = better.
lighter = prettier.
a lesson
in every way you can hate yourself.
and little girls
are avid students.
studying every flaw reflected in the mirror,
learning to read nutrition labels,
memorizing menus,
practicing lies,
learning everything diet culture has to teach,
until they’re 68 pounds in a hospital bed.

a little more
and you’ll be perfect,
a little more
and you’ll be worth it.

pretty hurts
like panicking every time you look in the mirror.

pretty hurts
broken friendships
worried mothers

and sometimes the hurt
is just too much
and you wonder,
was it really worth
the pain?

pretty hurts
pretty aches
pretty burns

so this is KC

it’s not quite my home,
this i know,
the home of my favorite memories
so i can wish.

just walking here
fills me with content
watching the city rush around me
an excited calm.

so this is KC:
fairy lights lining ledges,
a parking spot nowhere to be found,
orange hued evening skies.

i almost live here
but not quite,
suburbs near the edge of the city
just average blue springs.

but the city steals breath,
buildings stacked buildings,
a scene of a hundred different strangers
amidst the unmoving city.

some bits don’t change.
quik trip at every turn,
the erratic, ever-changing skies,
between my home and KC.

the city always felt cold.
smiling through shivers,
the bite of winter chill stung my face
snaking underneath my coat.

hand in hand,
exploring curious vendors,
wandering city with a dear friend
in awe of the the busy streets.

it’s not quite my home
home of the lighthearted moments
where walking is a small adventure,
home of my heart.

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