Innocent, fresh and ever so pure
When we are children we don’t know much more.
We are taught while were young to be kind to others,
To use manners when needed and to not hit your brother.
Don’t judge a book by a cover, they say,
So I wonder how and why it happens anyway.

At the young age of 5, or for some right before,
We become little humans that like to explore.
We grow into a world that’s structured yet free,
Where they tell us to be who we want to be.
A vet! An astronaut! A teacher! We choose,
Not thinking about if we win or we lose.

In the blink of an eye we’re 7 or 8,
Ready for cursive, division and opinions to create.
It may not be realized or noticed per say,
But the small details we see affect us each day.
The makeup put on and the clothes that are worn,
By surrounding people is becoming the norm.

12 years old and on top of the world,
A middle school hero that’s about to be whirled.
Things start to matter that shouldn’t be looked at,
Like how much you weigh or some natural belly fat.
You are given a number for the size on your jeans,
Bullies appear and are nothing but mean.
Not overweight, not even close,
But your mind starts to question if you start to look “gross.”
You wake up each morning and step on the scale,
Not happy with the number, you think that you fail.
Not a big deal, I’ll just lose some weight,
Maybe start exercising for a month straight.

Next thing you know three months have passed,
And with just exercise you're losing pounds fast.
It's rewarding, addictive and all good no harm,
Until you can’t stop, which should be the alarm.
But that doesn’t matter; you’re skinny or thin,
Whatever you call it, it’s considered a win.
Nothing else matters, not family or friends,
Who you now lie to, to stick with your cleanse.

15 years old and you enter tenth grade,
A world full of pressure but you get delayed.
Your body is weak and looks skeleton-like,
Not able to think and your blood pressure spikes.
Your hair becomes frail and you lose all your breasts,
Your belly keeps growling as you try to get rest.
Nothing seems to matter but the food on your plate,
Which you give to the dog and use it as bait.

People start talking; they notice your face,
You’re the girl that barely takes up any space.
Although obvious, you have not a clue,
That what people are saying turns out to be true.
They say you need help, to get food in your system,
But you just ignore, and think you have all wisdom.
Mental breakdowns make you open your eyes,
To finally see your minds full of lies.

Recovery, they say, is the most grueling part,
It takes energy, time and all of your heart.
It’s not just your body, it’s your mental state too,
You must be strong, tough and find the real you.
Behind the disorder lies a beautiful human,
Who’s struggling to thrive in the new world they’re viewed in.
Progress is made, and weight is put on,
A smile starts showing, insecurities gone.

Just turned 18 and ready for college,
Still nervous you might not have all the knowledge.
Move into the dorms, to make a second home,
With unfamiliar places so you start to roam.
Discovering life is amazing and brilliant,
And also discovering that you are resilient.
You are kind, caring, brave, smart and level-headed,
Ready to take on whatever might be dreaded.
You have been through hell, nothing could be worse,
Eating disorders…they have no remorse.

So you leave it in the past, never to return,
Because you have mastered the lesson to be learned.
That life is a gift and there is so much to do,
Like walking to the ocean and enjoying the view.
Taking pleasure in art and playing with puppies,
Going out on the weekends and looking for hubbies.
Running for joy and the smell of spring flowers,
Your comfiest pillow and endless hot showers.
A genuine laugh that makes your belly hurt,
And a dance in the rain, who cares about dirt.

Find your passion, your push, your desire or love,
Whatever you choose it will fit like a glove.
You’re your own person, imperfections and all,
You’re your own hero when it comes to a flaw.
Be happy, be healthy and be grateful above all,
For you’re given this life where you’re ever so small.
Don’t be too serious and learn from mistakes,
And always remember do whatever it takes.

-Jessica Dyrek

West Chester University