By L. Olivia
Content warning: body dysmorphia
Mia, a sixteen year old girl, struggles with body dysmorphia when her friends ask her to be a Disney Princess for Halloween.
“Do you want to be a Disney princess for Halloween?” Mia looked up at Livia. “What?” “You said you didn’t have a costume for Halloween yet. Do you want to be a Disney princess with me, Jaya, and Scarlet?” Mia loved Halloween because it was the one day a year when she didn’t have to be herself, when she could mask herself from the world. Her best friends Jaya, Livia, and Scarlet always came up with costume ideas for Halloween. However, Halloween was two weeks away, and they didn’t have any ideas until now. Mia felt a little uneasy with the Disney princess idea because it wasn’t her style, but she didn’t want to be the one to break the tradition. “Yeah,” she shrugged. “I guess so.” … “I’m going to be Rapunzel, Scarlet is going to be Mulan, and Jaya is going to be Ariel.” Livia had long, blonde hair and loved to paint. Scarlet was fierce and independent; she didn’t need anybody to tell her what to do or be. Jaya loved exploring and was one of the sweetest people to exist. It all made sense for them. But Mia didn’t have a connection to any princesses. She just decided on Belle because they both had brown hair and brown eyes. Mia stared at herself in her mirror. She never really paid attention to her body, but now that she did, she realized she hadn’t noticed her hips were so… wide. And that the lower part of her stomach bulged. She held out her arms and turned towards the wall and saw the bulge in her lower belly grow larger from the side. She frowned and furrowed her brows. Belle and the other princesses didn’t look like her. All of her friends looked like princesses, but Mia felt like she didn’t. You’re not beautiful. … Scarlet convinced Mia to go shopping after school the next day, even though Mia didn’t want to. Her mind was still occupied with the thoughts from yesterday. Why can’t I look like them? Mia aimlessly stroked a pink dress in front of her, frowning. You wouldn’t look pretty in that. “Mia, would I look good in this?” Livia held the sweater towards Mia, and Mia read the tag. XS. She glanced over at Scarlet and Jaya. Jaya had on size 4 jeans, and Scarlet held a S tank top. Mia was an L, and most tank tops made her arms look big. But Livia, Jaya, and Scarlet could get any size they wanted. They didn’t have to disregard clothes because there weren’t enough L’s or because they looked bad. They look good in everything. They can pull off anything. They are perfect. “Mia?” Livia asked one more time, concerned. Mia rolled her eyes. “It looks terrible,” she snapped without much thought. Mia hadn’t meant to let it out. It wasn’t her. It was the voice in her head that said it to her. The voice that made her say it. And now your friends hate you. Before Mia could make the situation worse, she left. … At home, Mia threw her backpack against the wall and sobbed. She didn’t mean to hurt them. She didn’t mean to upset her friends and push them away. She couldn’t help feeling insecure about herself and the way she looked. She didn’t know why it was eating her up now. She couldn’t bring herself to look in the mirror out of fear of seeing her reflection. A monster who could never look like Belle. You aren’t pretty enough to be Belle. Mia held her face in her hands as she let out another sob. You’re not beautiful. … Mia loved photography but rarely took pictures of herself. She was the kind of person who would take a selfie and immediately delete it. To distract herself from the thoughts inside her head, Mia went for a walk and found herself sitting in the park across the street from her house. She wasn’t sure if it was the smell of fresh autumn or the way the leaves and trees danced with the light breeze, but she felt compelled to set up her tripod and balance her camera on it. She held up her hand to a withering branch with just a single leaf hanging on, and she smiled. Click! Mia examined the picture, getting ready to delete it, but stopped. She loved the way her hair curled and rested on her back and how long her eyelashes looked. She liked how the sunlight brought out the glow in her hazel eyes and how warm her skin looked. She looked beautiful. At that exact moment, the voice in her head, the one that had been tearing her apart for the past few days, was gone. She found Mia’s voice again, and it was so very beautiful. I’m beautiful. … On Halloween, Mia twirled in the yellow dress, letting the ruffles swing around her legs as her friends cheered. “I said you’d make a great Belle!” Livia exclaimed. “No,” Mia smiled. “I’d make a great Mia”
Girls Write Now On the Other Side of Everything: The 2023 Anthology
Do you know what it’s like to communicate with your family across a salty ocean’s divide? Do you want the sun and moon to enter your home with stories written in embers? Do you seek voices that will punctuate the darkness? Welcome to the other side of everything. It’s the other side of silence, the other side of childhood, the other side of hate, the other side of indifference, it’s the other side of sides, where the binary breaks down. It’s a new paradigm, a destination, a different perspective, a mindset, a state of openness, the space between the endless folds in your forehead, hopes for tomorrow, and reflections on the past. This anthology of diverse voices is an everything bagel of literary genres and love songs, secrets whispered in the dark of night, conversations held with ancestors under the sea.
Everyone has insecurities—no matter their age or gender. It’s natural for all of us to struggle with certain things about ourselves. I believe talking about these sensitive issues can bring us closer together and allows us to address them.
While being a teenage girl and learning more about my own body, I wanted to write a story that explores the major theme of body insecurities. My weight and the shape of my body is something I’ve always been insecure about. I think that storytelling is one of the best ways to approach issues like this and spread more awareness of this issue. Everyone is beautiful, no matter who they are, and I hope that this story teaches you to love yourself and all of your insecurities.
L. Olivia is a young writer from Brooklyn, New York. There is nothing more in this world that she enjoys than reading, watching sunsets/sunrises and learning. School is one of her favorite environments and she believes that there is always something for her to learn.
A War Between The Mind & Heartby Shamu Ward