Monday, February 13, 2012

Videogames and Anorexia

Black-lights illuminate the stains on my white t-shirt as the videogame screens flash violence into the surroundings.  A group of men with buzzed hair and rigid stances are swarmed around another man who stands with his legs spread and a fake gun to his right cheek.  He is shooting the heads from zombies.  His friends cheer him and slap his back.  Adults and kids alike stop and watch as two teenagers dance on the platform of a videogame called Pump it Up.  My brother, David, is one of them.  Arrows float from the bottom of the screen to the top, dictating the rhythmic slamming of their feet – top left to bottom left, top right to bottom right, a jump back to top, then bottom right, middle, middle, middle.  I am watching David as well.  He’s dancing to one of the harder songs in the game.  On my left, a videogame screams overexcited Japanese phrases in my ear.  To my right, a twanging, southern voice yells “Yeehaw” as an engrossed kid steers a fake ATV attached to one of the machines.

David and the other kid finish their song.  I step onto the platform with my friend Tommy.  We insert our coins into their respective slots.  I choose the medium setting while Tommy chooses hard.  I envy Tommy and my brother because they are both rail-thin, and I am almost two-hundred pounds, standing at five-foot three-inches.  A few of my fatter friends can play on hard-mode, but it’s usually just the skinny ones who can move fast enough for it.  I’d started playing Pump It Up for fun, but it quickly became frustrating.  Over the year or so we’d been playing, David and my sister, Sarah, had lost about ten pounds while I gained twenty.  I’d hoped that the exercise would help me lose weight but it didn’t.  I wanted to be the girl that walked into the room and made every man’s jaw dropped.  I wanted to be doted on and loved, and being fat was not getting me there.

At fifteen years old I am surrounded by stick-thin friends that only dated other stick people. In response, I develop an eating disorder.

It’s been two weeks since I’ve stopped eating, and I’ve successfully lost five pounds.  My stomach growls angrily as I slam my feet on the platform’s corresponding arrows. I think about how much I hate my gelatinous belly, and how I’d be able to play hard-mode without its sway.  The song finishes.  Tommy and I step down from the platform.  My vision tunnels and I feel like passing out, so I sit down beside the Pump It Up machine in an attempt to make the world stop moving.  David comes over to me and asks if I’m OK. 

I tell him I’m fine, but it’ll be years before I admit to my anorexia.

--Kristin Kolb

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