Clean Plate | Teen Ink

Clean Plate

August 10, 2014
By Michaela95 GOLD, Cape Town, Other
Michaela95 GOLD, Cape Town, Other
10 articles 1 photo 12 comments

Favorite Quote:
The way you do anything, is the way you do everything

The smell I dreaded, that overpowering scent of chocolate hit me squarely in the nose as I walked into the house. “Mom?” I called frozen to the spot, not daring to move an inch closer to the source of the smell.
“In the kitchen,” she replied, her voice slightly muffled by the wall separating us. I stared into the mirror above the small, antique hallstand and concentrated on breathing through my mouth. I forced myself to take a step towards the bright rectangular opening, shifting my gym bag to my other shoulder. My whole body ached after the punishing two-hour workout that I had just completed.
I entered our butter-yellow, cream-white and strawberry-pink kitchen and saw my mom bustling around the oven. She opened the oven door, a ream of steam rolling from the hot space that undoubtably held the chocolate concoction.
“Hello sweetie, you can go and have a quick shower if you like. Dinner is almost ready,” my mother crooned as she closed the oven door and inspected the fat-spitting frying pan on the stove.
“Okay,” I said.

I hate dinnertime, or maybe I just hate eating. No, I like eating and that’s the problem.

I put on my baggy gray sweatpants and one of my older brother’s jerseys. He was very tall and a national swimmer, so I drowned in his large clothes and that was just how I liked dressing. My motto was, the baggier the better.

I heard the crash-banging rumble of my brother and father as they arrived home, both grizzly-bear men roared greetings that traveled through the house. It was time. I walked slowly into our large dining room, the plush Persian carpet of the hallway giving way to oak, the hard coldness of it making my bare feet tingle.
“There she is!” My father almost-shouted at me. My father always speaks louder than what one would describe as a ‘inside voice’. “Grab a seat sugar-pie. Your mother has cooked one hell-of-a-meal for us tonight.”

I sat down, trying not to look too closely at the plates and bowels assembled on table by my portly mother, her plump face gleaming and flushed by her house-wifely duties. The three of them had begun to discuss golden boy’s upcoming competition so I saw the opportunity to serve myself.
“Oh no sweetheart! I’ll dish up for you,” my mother said as she grabbed the serving spoon that I had been using to transport the soft, cheese-covered broccoli to my plate. She heaped great spoonfuls of white rice and pumpkin onto the made-in-china crockery, before she swapped the spoon for a fork and stabbed it enthusiastically into a pork chop. The chop fell with a small thump in front of me, and the fork from which it had fallen hovered in midair as my mother looked at me expectantly. “Thank you,” I almost-whispered.

I stared at the food; the brown sugar had turned into a syrup on the hot pumpkin chunks, the swollen white rice had started to soak up the grease that was slowly seeping from the ridge of fat on the pork chop. I felt my skin go clammy, a tingling gripped my lower back and my stomach growled as my senses registered nutrition just centimeters away.
“Tuck in everyone!” My father boomed before clamping his teeth over a forkful of sugary pumpkin. I picked up my own fork and tried to clear my mind of the thoughts straining to be thought, the old familiar thoughts. I felt how my upper thighs spread out on the seat of my chair, I felt the flab on stomach against the elastic band of my sweatpants and I imagined how far my butt curved away from my body…too far away.
“Eat up honey,” my mother said pointedly at me from across the table, “you are looking skinnier by the day. You need to get some good food in your tummy.”
“Yes,” my dad rumbled, “finish your food. Think of all those less fortunate children in Ethiopia or Uganda or whatever that place is called.”
I bit back a sarcastic remark about how I would gladly have given those kids all the food on my plate…the last time I had talked that way it hadn’t gone down well.

I finished the food by chewing fast and swallowing faster. I got up to leave, eager to walk our Labrador Sandy around the block, but my mother snatched my empty plate from me and ordered me to sit down. “The best is yet to come,” she giggled. I smelt it before I saw it, the chocolate pudding glistened and oozed deliciously as it was set down in front of me. I began to form the words in my mouth, constructing them carefully with timbre and tone in mind: No thank you. But they got stuck between my big front teeth, held there by the itch. The itch I felt in my hand to grab the dessertspoon, the itch that slowly emptied my mind of everything except the pudding and how good it would taste on my tongue. The itchy want that was always followed by the burning self-loathing.

“I mustn’t,” I said to myself, “I must be strong. You don’t want it, get up and leave the room. Do it! NOW!”

I picked up the spoon. The itch had won…it always did.

The author's comments:
This piece is inspired by the condition of body dismorphia that is becoming more and more prevalent in our society due to the standards set by media and celebrities. It also touches on what effect parents have on their children's self-image and how they can be force-feeding their child out of kindness but with damaging results.

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