Shaving in the nuthouse.


Riddle me this: How many Eating Disorder patients does it take to shave one’s legs? One, but she cannot be trusted with a razor, so Nurse Erma has to sit on the toilet while the skinny girl shaves.

Erma handed me the disposable razor like it was contraband. Then, she sat on the toilet with an air of:

“God, when I went to nursing school I never imagined some skinny girl with hairy legs would make me her b*tch.”

Erma watched me shave and listened while I blabbered on about the imperfection of my thighs and why I thought it was perfectly reasonable to want to be thinner than I was.

I grabbed the fat on my inner thigh and explained to her that I didn’t need that just hanging there serving no valuable aesthetic purpose. I wanted a thigh-gap before talk of thigh-gaps became fuel for social media feminist banter.

Then, I spoke to her of famous women like Madonna and Janet Jackson, women who grew increasingly skinny as their fame rose. I wondered why it was okay for them to strive for some sort of ideal physique while I had been locked up for doing so. Apparently Erma hadn’t gotten the “thin is in” memo.

I was attempting to validate my insane relationship with food and exercise by invoking pop stars. Madonna as my witness, I thought the Material Girl and her post-Desperately Seeking Susan physical transformation was justification for my eating disorder.

Erma attempted to match my rants with reason, knowing all the while that it was the waste of a perfectly good afternoon shift. She had a psych-nurse eye-roll that spoke volumes. She pointed out several things that were erroneous about my thinking.

First, I was not Madonna. Erma was very clear about that.

Second, this wasn’t about famous women, or Anorexic Angela or any of the other people who I would meet on this floor, some of whom were way sicker than others. This was about me. Usually I liked when things were all about me, but in this instance I did not.