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Food Freedom

Writing by Holly Mackin. Illustration by Berenika Murray.

TW - Eating Disorders, Dark Subject Matter

It was on my mind 24/7,

I was graciously bestowed a bewitching spell:

Hyper-fixation for something so mundane yet alluring.

The first few weeks were a light stroll,


Two months in and

pulsating pain ricochets through my chest cavity


I realised that this,

this is much more than a leisurely walk.

‘You’ve always been fond of sprinting’

quickly became a numbing, self-persuasive mantra.

Drowning in the dregs of her porcelain cup,

jostling myself out of the remaining crumbs that sat

aloft upon her fine-bone china plate.

It didn’t matter anyhow.

I had succumbed to starvation’s cunning plan.

I had asked her several times

“Why me?”

to no avail.

Why, with her deviant psychological tricks and pitiless agenda,

she successfully instilled a stomach-churning fear of energy within me.

Energy my incarcerated body so desperately needed

for the race that it involuntarily partook in.

The winner was to reap the reward of ‘skinny’.


Well, the so-called ‘skinny’ was on my mind too.

Her slender frame, so slight and scarce,

stood diligently elevated at the end of that racecourse.

Blinkers obstructed my vision to all reason.

‘Skinny’ loomed like an ominous beacon of hope, an emblem of

my misconstrued idea of what freedom really meant.

Skinny girls are free. Skinny girls are exalted and

able to really enjoy living life.

Free from insecurities,

free from low self-esteem,

free from the shame caused by an extra inch of flesh awning our bones.

My mind incessantly listed the ‘free-froms’ that skinny would yield,

akin to GMOs, parabens and intolerances adorning food packaging.

Thus, I kept trudging towards that finish line.

Around the halfway mark, fatigue transpires,

deterioration of muscle mass occurs,

there is no adequate bulk to

regulate body temperature,

modulate regular menstruation,

carry-out fundamental bodily functions.

Languor slowly diminished my determination for that prize.

The intangible vices dubbed Starvation, Restriction, Anorexia and Bulimia

earnestly began crumpling their betting tickets they had placed on me.

Despaired by my refusal to cede to their agenda.

The tannoy sounds, my withdrawal from the race officiated.

A few months later, real freedom was spelt out in front of me,

written under the pseudonym of ‘Recovery’.

Freed from the shackles of counting of calories,





The eating disorder’s true façade was hidden by the

sweet, incandescent glow which loomed from the beacon of ‘skinny’.

Blinkers off, I could no longer be fooled.

Food freedom

revealed a life in sensory vibrancy that I had once lost

during that long and gruelling race.

The scenery more vibrant,

the songbirds more melodic,

the taste of my favourite food no longer accompanied by loathsome guilt.

Crumbs, that previously formed on my plate as a visual, demonic omen,

now appeared interwoven,

an intricate mosaic on your plate

of nourishment; a depiction of health.

For while the infatuation with skinny

persisted in my mind 24/7

during those days at the races,

I was never truly free.

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