I grew up in a family of all girls
who prioritized being thin and pretty
and when a hair fell out of place, our dad would tuck it behind our ears
and when the belts around our waists loosened our mom would ask why and say
it’s not okay to be okay. It’s okay to be the best.
But in a family of all girls you can’t always be the best
so I found what I was good at,
which was counting my ribs and the knobs in my spine,
and I would stand naked in front of my mirror and trace the grooves
up and down until I could slide my fingers in between them.
I did the same with my hipbones, watching them widen as I grew,
keeping them prominent so they were visible
through my jeans and it wasn’t till I was eighteen
and someone asked me if I was okay
that I realized I might not be.
And every person who I let inside
would tell me that I was beautiful
so I never changed, except to try harder and be better
and be the best so I could please them,
and please them I did.
But I found myself alone,
counting, like I’ve done since I was eleven,
feeling the familiar bumps and the smooth scars that coat my skin,
so I tuck my hair behind my ears and tighten my belt around my waist
and tell myself every thing will be okay, even if I’m not.
Emma Hicks is a fourth-year creative writing and English literature student. Her preferred nickname is Germs and she hates long walks on the beach.