“It’s just a meal” She mutters over the toilet as she skips her third one this week. It is Monday.

She has already spent six hours in the gym. “Just one more mile,” she says with the vision of melting pounds off of her already distorted, fragile, mess of a body.

“Just one more mile and one less meal, and maybe she will love me.”  As she looks into her mother’s eyes and wishes the reflection would change.

And despite the hundreds of people who told her she was beautiful, the only voice she heard was the one of the eyes in which she stared. The only voice that mattered was the one of the woman whose body she envied. The body she could never attain. The body who gave her life.

“No, you can’t wear that.” and “Why don’t you look like her?” narrated her childhood as she was tossed into an adolescence of one less meal and one more mile because those are the only things in which she had control.

She is twenty now. And that once only voice that tried to control every aspect of her young life had begun to quiet until it was nothing more than a whisper that would forever reside in the back of her head.

You see, that voice did not define her. It hurt her. But define it did not. Instead, it made one less meal and one more mile the lesson of her youth and the truest test of her strength. But no, it did not define. Instead, with each passing year, those hundreds of voices telling her she\’s beautiful are slowly beginning to matter.

She now feels her worth in the truth and love of her best friends’ hugs. She has grown to appreciate her body for what it can do and not for what it looks like. And for the first time, she sees the reflection of her beauty not in the body of her mother, but instead in her own eyes.

Written and contributed by Megan Rose.