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Warmth in the Winter

a fiction piece by Andrea Davenport, Junior English Secondary Education Major

Content Warning: Themes of Eating Disorders


The mirror is generous. Its love language is gift-giving. When it gives you 10 extra pounds, you should bethankful. My sister said it’s body dysmorphia. She said she has it and her mind betrays her. She said the mirror makesher run. It tells her it’s to help her grow strong even though it holds a gun up to her head and fires. It thinks she’s a liar. She said I was overreacting. She said I did it to myself, that it was my fault. Her eyes are afraid of heights. Her eyes grow taller as she grows smaller and the mirror adds 10 extra pounds, you should be thankful. Her eyes devour 2000 calories and hunger for more muscle on her broad shoulders. Her eyestell me I don’t eat enough. Her eyes remind me of the doctors who tell me I’m overweight. Her eyes feel guilty for treating her body so well. Her eyes feel ashamed because the mirror gave her too much, and the mirror smiles. So the mirror is generous. You’ve got a little extra love and it gives you 10 more pounds of it. You should be thankful. My momma used to be small; she had the perfect hips and a nice figure. She hid her frame in modest is hottest and her claim to fame was the element of surprise. She had four children; she gained a lot of love and while it keeps her warm she doesn’t want it anymore. Doctor after doctor, after doctor tells her she’s overweight like she doesn’t know her own body. A new method of downsizing presented to her at every appointment but she can’t dropdownsizes. She searches for a shirt that flatters her but cannot find one she likes. She doesn’t like to see her toes in sandals and says her feet are fat. She says pastel colors wash out her pink-toned skin. She says she doesn’t look good in anything. She obsesses over the food entering her body and tells me when I’m no longer hungry. She doesn’t like what I wear or the skin that I show and occasionally blames me for bringing dessert back into the house. She didn’t want my sisters on a diet and worried they were losing weight too quickly. She and I both wish we had that problem. She said they were thin enough and didn’t need to be so self-conscious. She doesn’t know my sister has body dysmorphia. She said happiness is a choice, she said I need to control it. She tells me I’m small; she tells me I’m not hungry. The mirror does too. So the mirror is generous. You’re the same size you were in college and it gives you 10 extra pounds. You should be thankful. My dad boasts of maintaining the same weight for 15 years. He says it’s because he runs. He says he eats enough. He says he needs to earn his calories. He said my sister shouldn’t have gotten such a large drink from the gas station when his was the same size, she didn’t earn it. He said the cereal in the morning and the dinner my momma puts on the table fill him up nicely. He said the 140 pounds of man is something he’s proud of. My momma sits right next to him when he says it. He said you can see my bra when I lift my shirt; he said I always cut my hair too short; he said I shouldn’t sit like that because it’s not ladylike; he said body hair isn’t attractive, why am I not self-conscious. He said mommaneeds to stop buying crappy cereal. It’s not good for you and he always ends up finishing the box because no one else eats it. He said my younger sister eats enough when my momma said she’s still concerned. He said it when momma was speaking. He rolls his eyes, looks at momma, and says, “why is she crying again.” He said he doesn’t know what myproblem is but he’s sick of it and is not dealing with it anymore. He said it to momma, she nodded, and I walked out the door. He said he’s been 140 pounds for 15 years and the mirror frowns because he denies the 10 extra pounds.

So the mirror is generous. It gives you 10 extra pounds because it loves you. But my mirror is generous until Iam happy. My mirror adds 10 extra pounds and I feel loved. Adored. Like I thought it wanted me to.

But my mirror scolds me for jeans that dig into my skin, for a bra that gives me double, for underwear thatrides up even though I’ve told momma a million times that they fit. My mirror scolds me for the inch of skin wrapping around my waist between my top and my jeans that are just a bit too snug. My mirror yanks my waist, ripping clothing off my body because I should not own them when they look like that on me. My mirror whispers dirty secrets until my ears bleed from the broken glass it keeps throwing in anger. My mirror doesn’t understand whyI smile with tears in my eyes.

It’s my fault, no it’s not yes it is, “look what she’s wearing” I should feel guilty happiness is a choice, sistersays so, I’m not hungry, dad doesn’t want to deal with me anymore and momma says I know.

And blood dribbles down my neck.

My mirror doesn’t understand why I let it, so it takes the day off and feeds my ego by the spoonful. Just a spoonful of sugar helps the shards of self-hatred go down.

So the mirror is generous and it hates that I like its 10 pounds of generosity.

It keeps me warm in the winter.

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