flesl.net paired story 1-8b (Molly Ahrens)

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Molly Ahrens

From the time she was a little girl, Molly Ahrens wanted to be perfect. She always kept her room clean; she always did well at school; she tried to be happy and friendly all the time. This seemed to be good thing when she was a young child, but when she was a teenager, her desire to be perfect almost killed her.

When she was in Grade Three, Molly suddenly gained weight. She wasn’t really fat but she was certainly chubby. Other kids in her school teased her. They called her “hippo” and “elephant”. She felt ashamed. So she decided she was only going to eat good food. She lost a bit of weight, but she was still chubby, and her friends still teased her.

When Molly was in Grade Six, she suddenly grew several inches, and she lost all her baby fat. But she still didn’t feel thin. When she had a regular medical examination, she was told she weighed 43 kilograms. She was also told that this was the normal weight for her height, 142 centimeters. But, she says, she still felt as fat as a pig.

From that time on, Molly was obsessed with her weight. She started spending more and more time in front of a mirror. She stared at herself and pinched her stomach and thighs. She decided she would eat as little as possible. At school sometimes she didn’t have any lunch — or only half of it. At home, she had to eat a little because she didn’t want her parents to know what she was doing. But she didn’t eat much. She tried to fool her parents by just pushing her food around on her plate instead of putting it into her mouth.

Soon she weighed only 36 kilograms. Her parents started telling her she wasn’t eating enough. And they told her she looked “skinny”. They thought that would make her feel bad and make her start eating, but it made her feel happy. Most of the time, however, she still felt fat; and she thought she looked disgusting. By the time she had her thirteenth birthday, in April 1994, she weighed only 34 kilograms. One day Molly’s mother happened to come into the bathroom and saw her daughter naked. She was shocked. She cried out, “Oh God! What⁏s happened to you?” The next day, she took Molly to a doctor.

The doctor told Molly and her mother that she had a disease called ‘anorexia.’ As he explained, this is a mental disease: people who have it think they’re fat even though they’re extremely thin. They can’t stop dieting. Sometimes they eat so little that they die. (There are more than a million anorexics in the US. Most of them are females between 12 and 25. About ten percent are males.)