I have decided to tell you a cute little story! (Play the music while you read, please. No I do not own Disney. I should, because I am the Queen, but perhaps because I’ve been too occupied with wars and whiny peasants I haven’t exercised my rights over that part of my kingdom)
Once upon a time, in a faraway isle
The great chief Tava worked in the honors office
Resplendent with power, he had everything his heart desired
Yet he was strict, selfish, and unkind
But then, one summer’s eve,
An old beggar woman came to his “castle”.
And offered him a tiare in return for shelter from a bitter storm
Repulsed by her haggard, half-starved appearance
Tava sneered at the gift
And turned the old woman away
But she warned him not to be deceived by appearances,
For Beauty is found within.
And when he dismissed her again,
The bedraggled woman’s ugliness melted away
To reveal a beautiful Queen of the Isles
He tried to apologize, but it was too late,
For she had seen that there was no love in his heart.
And as punishment
She transformed him into a hideous beast
And placed a powerful spell on the college
And all who lived there
Ashamed of his monstrous form,
the beast concealed himself inside his office
With a “magic mirror” as his only window to the outside world
The tiare she had offered,
Was truly an enchanted blossom
Which would bloom for many years
If he could learn to love others
And earn their love in return
By the time the last petal fell,
Then the spell would be broken.
If not, he would be doomed to remain a beast
For all time.
As the years passed, he fell into despair, and lost all hope
For who could ever learn to love… A Beast??
So I bet that was a surprise. Well let me add to the story. This morning I got kicked out of the BYUH fitness center for having a temporary henna tattoo. As you know, my life is pretty insane and I never really get much relaxation. The gym is how I relax and I had a horrible night. Nightmares of being raped over and over again and then a nightmare so horrible I woke up in pain. It was of the cuts. I struggle with a self-harm addiction. In my dream cuts just appeared all over my arms and I felt the bite, the kiss of a cold razor blade and then I tried to put tissues over it and blood bloomed through the tissue. My father was in the room, watching TV. I saw him as I was placing tissue over my bleeding wounds that would not close and he did not even look my way.
I got maybe 4 hours of sleep. I wanted so badly to go to the gym.
Here’s what went down. I went to the gym and got going on the bike for 20 minutes and then one of the fitness center people is like “Hey our boss just talked to me and you need to cover the tattoo or leave.” And I was understandably quite angry.
Because first of all, henna is temporary. Secondly I got into the gym just fine on Monday. For some reason, Wednesday is the magical day where you actually enforce honor code? And thirdly I have read the honor code at BYUH they mention tattoos. Not tattoos that wash off. Nothing about temporary tattoos. NOTHING. Would I have done a henna sleeve if I thought it was against the honor code? NO.
So I get up and I walk to the front and say “Hey so I actually am having a problem with having to leave the gym over this. This is henna and it washes off. And I saw a guy in her last week with a tanktop wearing a full, permanent sleeve, and he didn’t cover it up or go home. I also have an injury I need to take care of, and this will take at least a week to wash off.”
“I’m sorry, we don’t make the rules. Our boss called it in”
“Please call him out so I can talk to him.”
They call him and he comes to the front and I say
“So when you called honor code did you mention that this is henna and that it washes off?”
“Yes I did. I called it in and said it was henna and they said it’s against honor code.”
“That’s funny because there’s nothing about temporary tattoos written in honor code, I checked. Anyways, who did you call?”
“I called Tava.”
“Okay, now I know who I need to talk to, so I’ll just head straight to honor code office and have a chat with him. Thank you.”
Shove the door open hard.
The HONOR CODE OFFICE WAS CLOSED AND NOONE WAS ANSWERING THE PHONE. HOW DID HE CALL HONOR CODE IF THE OFFICE WAS CLOSED!!! #SKETCH
See first of all, no one gets between me and my workout. Secondly I got into the gym just fine on Monday with it. Thirdly it is temporary. And Fourthly I cite the fact that BYUH says to cover permanent tattoos and not to get any new tattoos while attending BYUH.
Ruined. My. Morning.
See if there’s anything I hate more than being told what to do, is if someone expects me to follow a rule I don’t know! I have read the honor code many, many times. It does not mention temporary tattoos. Just a general “tattoos”. OK so a tattoo is technically ink injected into the skin and bloodstream leaving a permanent stain.
Henna is a plant-based dye that stains through the epidermis of the skin and is gone within a week or two.
Webster dictionary my brutha: A tattoo is ” an indelible mark or figure fixed upon the body by insertion of pigment under the skin or by production of scars”
Did I insert pigment under my skin?? I mean… I didn’t insert anything. It stains through. It’s like drawing on yourself with a sharpie. The skin layers shed off and it’s gone. It’s not underneath the skin.
Either way, I was extremely upset. Like wayyy upset. Because now, until the sleeve wears off, I have to wear a hoodie to the gym with the lousy AC. This guy, Tava, this is not my first run-in we’re going to have either because I appealed through BYUH disability services to get permission to wear leggings because it helps me cope with my anorexia to wear something that always always fits the same. Skirts don’t do that. Pants don’t do that. Dresses also don’t do that. Also on top of everything else going down in this down the rabbit hole type of life, you think I have time to go buy a whole new wardrobe of pants or whatever in different sizes so I can have a range of clothes that will fit when my weight is fluctuating all over the place.
Tava is Tongan. Have you ever tried to explain anorexia to a Polynesian man? Samoans eat until they are tired. Tongans eat until they die. They are cultural eat-too-much-ers. So I’m now having to deal with trying to get help for a medical condition that I stress will very very very much help not to be kicked out of the café or the bookstore or the library or the PCC for wearing leggings. And they say “Wear a lavalava over it” but honor code says informal lavalavas are against honorcode too! So that’s double penalty! So I’m going up against an honor code that claims that it is God’s law AND a serious lack of understanding about my medical condition. Culturally backed ignorance, if you will.
I’m completing my rant. So the above thing I wrote I am going to tell you about those symbols. Tava is Tava. I’m the Queen. And he has the appearance of wealth and goodness and he has pride of position and all things he could want, power- and he uses that power to be strict and to throw people out for having a “bedraggled” appearance. So in this case I am “wearing” the wrong thing. Leggings. And the henna. And because my appearance does not fit within his rules, I was thrown out of the gym.
The thing about life experiences is that things that don’t apply to you just doesn’t mean as much as when it DOES apply to you. What I know of him as just basic- is that he is not anorexic. He does not have PTSD or depression either as far as I know. What I also know about Polynesian culture is that they don’t really talk about mental illness or rape or any other topic that doesn’t make them happy. So to him, my plea to be able to wear leggings is just a whiny little white girl who wants to wear her cute leggings.
The part of my story he does not see and probably doesn’t deserve to see is that I have had anorexia nervosa for two years now. 7 months in I lost 15% of my body weight in about 3 months. I was running 11 miles a day (2 hours) and doing tennis for another 1-2 hours a day. I nearly ended up in the hospital. The undereating, the effects of starvation, caused a tibial stress fracture. I spent months on crutches and then another 6 months of rehabilitation to recover my injury. As that was happening I had several deaths happen and I was depressed and my PTSD made my life a hell.
I saw a nutritionist and I built my body and my leg back up from scratch. Even with anorexia trying so hard to take me down I slowly managed to gain weight back. I didn’t get back to “normal” until February 2017. I lost the weight February 2016. Oh and then guess what I applied to go into treatment in CA for anorexia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression. I got accepted and pulled out of school and then bam- no meal plan. Bam. Sexual assault. Bam. 7% of my body weight this time.
I spend 4 months doing probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done and that’s treatment. 6-8 hours a day of therapy. Seminars about emotions and psychology and journaling and thought process exercises. Forced meals. Meals being observed. Taking a picture and writing about every single calorie that passed my mouth. Not being allowed to work out and that aggravating my injury so I could barely walk down the stairs…
I get straight out of treatment and come here. I have to fight my anorexia every single day. When I wear a pair of pants a voice in my head says “You’re a fat, worthless whore.” and I try to talk back to the voice and say “I am not bad for eating food! I need to eat if I want to run again. I can’t starve myself again. I want to stay out of the hospital” but everytime the fabric clings too close or feels too tight around the butt or thighs it’s back “Your thighs are huge. You need to eat less. Stop eating that junk. You’re a whore. You’re a pig. Stop eating that. You don’t deserve that.”
It’s like being punched over and over again. When I wear pants I can’t think about anything else. It’s just a running dialogue 24/7 you’resofatlookatyourthighsthey’redisgustingyoushouldn’thaveeatenthatwhydidyoueatthatyou’resuchawhore
So I’m going to tell you a second little story.
Once upon a time there was a 475lb Tongan man, head of honor code at BYUH. He was very passionate about his job, keeping miscreants in line, making sure that BYUH was a safe spiritual environment for all. One day a letter came to him from BYUH disability services saying that there was a student with anorexia nervosa who wanted permission to wear leggings because pants were triggering to her eating disorder, in fact any clothing with a number size triggered her anorexia and it was healthier to wear things like leggings or a dress. He instantly dismissed it. Clearly it was just a palagi girl trying to get around the rules.
A few days later she came into his office to meet with him about two things. The first was that she had been kicked out of the BYUH fitness center for having a henna sleeve down her arm. She said there was nothing written in honor code about temporary tattoos and asides that, the BYUH fitness center didn’t enforce that rule just last week when they let a tall black guy in with a tanktop and tattoos. She even knew who was working that day. And then she tried to explain.
“When I wear pants or a dress or pretty much anything with a number size on it, it triggers me to starve myself. I’m not like a normal person. I can’t just choose to eat. What happens when I wear a pair of pants is that a literal voice in my head starts talking to me and says you’re such a bitch you are so fat do you feel how those jeans fit you’re a whore why are you eating stop eating stop eating you need to work out more- and it doesn’t ever, EVER shut up when I wear those types of clothing. When I wear leggings they come in a range of sizes. I can be anywhere from a size 4-8 and I will still be able to wear the same pair of leggings. With my weight fluctuating day to day and the struggle of having that voice in my head, I can’t recover from my anorexia and do school at the same time.”
“We need to keep the rules for everyone. I can’t let you break the rules if I don’t let someone else do it too.”
“Anorexia nervosa is a medical condition. Isn’t that a pretty good reason to give me permission to break a rule, if it’s supportive to my health? I just got out of the hospital for this and I’m trying to facilitate healing.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t help you, that’s the rule.”
“You know I thought you might say that but I also hoped I was wrong. Because despite all the things honor code professes to be, about keeping campus safe and spiritually enriching, it feels more like judgment and punishment. It feels like the opposite of what religion is about. Have a nice day.”
“You have a nice day too, I hope it gets better.”
Tava closed his book and watched her walk out. He stood up. Suddenly his jeans felt too tight. He struggled to walk to his filing cabinet. A dark feeling came over him. He looked to his left and saw a dark, wraithlike shadow. It was alive. It smiled. The burning black shadows were skeletal but in the shape of a girl. Black fire burned in her eyes. The mouth opened in a sickening grin showing the jagged teeth and gaping maw of the skull. The eyes burned. A girl’s voice came from the black monster.
And then the wraith came inside him. He could feel her moving inside of him, pulling at him, stretching. And then there was a voice. He felt her inside his head.
“You’re too fat. You’re too old. You’re a horrible person. You should stop eating.”
He tried to shake his head. He sad a quick prayer to drive out the dark, depressed, feeling. He felt utterly worthless. He felt unloved. Ugly. He felt horrible about himself. He wanted to die.
Even with the prayer, it didn’t go away. Ana kept whispering to him.
As he tried to do his job, go about his basic day to day tasks, Ana talked to him noonewillloveyouifyou’refatyouneedtonoteatthat
In defiance he tried to lift a chicken sandwich to his mouth and that was when Ana screamed
“PUT THAT DOWN YOU FAT LAZY WORTHLESS WHORE!!! NOW!”
He shoved it into his mouth anyways, sweat beaded on his forehead because she was chanting again
And a wave of nausea and self-hatred hit him like a physical blow.
He vomited into the wastebasket next to his desk. And then Ana was chanting again
His friend walked into the office to invite him to dinner. Tava said yes but he couldn’t focus. Ana was not shutting up. He had no idea what was going on. He felt so sick. He felt depressed. He HATED himself. He hated feeling fat. He hated being in his body. His throat burned from vomiting constantly. He was humiliated. He crouched over the toilet hacking threads of spit and yellow bile into the bowl on his breaktime.
He went to the gym as soon as he got out of work. Sweat dripping down his face he tried to stop after fifteen minutes. But Ana wasn’t having that. She would pause for a moment when he was working out so hard he couldn’t breathe but then if he eased up slightly she was back
He stayed at the gym until it closed and then he went running for two hours.
He woke up on the pavement in a strange place. He woke up next to his own bloody vomit. His hands were shaking. He was dizzy. He threw up again.
He got up and tried to walk back home but his muscles were cramped and it felt like he had torn something. As he was walking he heard an audible crack and he went down.
Ana was quiet. She was quiet because she enjoyed the suffering, the pain. As he cried out in agony, she smiled.
It was as though she crawled around inside him, chewing on his bones, eating away his body. He hated and loved her. He hated her because she abused him. And he loved her because in the quiet hours of the night Ana would whisper promises
He had lost 15% of his body weight in one day. And it didn’t stop. He took a sick day a few days after Ana came to him, hoping that if he tried all day he could get something down, but he couldn’t eat. He could barely stomach juice and Ana would scream that it had too much sugar. Ana would only let him have water. And one Ritz cracker.
He tried to go to work the next day but he couldn’t focus. Even though he was losing weight constantly and was constantly sick out of both ends, Ana never quit.
Two weeks of hell went by. He finally went to the hospital because he had passed out and blood poured out of his mouth. His hair had started to fall out. His nails were brittle. Stomach acid burned in his throat.
The girl he had turned away from his office came to his mind.
Delusional, feverish, his body broken down, unable to repair the most basic damage, pulling energy to breathe by breaking down his bones and muscle as well as taking from his internal organs, on an IV in the hospital- he saw Ana again.
This time she looked like a very, very thin, athletic teenage girl wearing shorts and a sports bra. She looked… perfect. As he watched her body changed. Sometimes she was a big black woman or a tiny Asian girl. He saw flashes of all the women and men she had killed. Her final form was of the girl he had turned away.
“My name is Ana.” She smiled at him.