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The Hunger for Love: My Journey from Doll to Survivor

Story by Jasmine

The mirror, once my ally, transformed into an unforgiving judge. Its cruel gaze reflected back at me, distorting my sense of self-worth. I was ensnared in a relationship that demanded unattainable perfection. Every pound gained felt like a suffocating shackle, and each outfit choice was meticulously dictated. He molded me into a living doll, a mere object devoid of autonomy. This is the account of my liberation from his clutches, my journey to reclaim my identity from the suffocating grasp of his expectations.

My yearning for affection and attention can be traced back to my childhood. As one of several siblings who needed additional support, I often felt neglected. Suppressing my emotions became a necessity from an early age; I learned to wear a smile and pretend that everything was okay. I secretly yearned to be an only child, hoping for the undivided attention of my parents. But if such selfish thoughts slipped from my lips, my parents scolded me for my supposed lack of consideration and compassion towards my siblings, who were enduring their own challenging situations, particularly my autistic sister.

As I grew older, my desperation for attention intensified.

During my first day of college, I crossed paths with someone who captivated me, and the feeling was mutual. Like magnets, we were irresistibly drawn to one another, and soon we were inseparable. We shared a dorm room, a bed, and practically every waking moment together, as we were in the same grade, pursuing the same major, and sharing the same interests. It felt like a dream come true, basking in the constant cuddles and affection I had never experienced before.

However, with the passage of time, he began exerting greater control over me. Jealousy consumed him whenever I spent time with my friends, even though they were only female companions. He scrutinized and commented on every outfit I wore, manipulating my choices to fit his taste. Open-toed shoes became forbidden, and the length of my skirts diminished at his insistence. Whenever I wore something that pleased him, I was rewarded with more attention and an overwhelming display of his strong attraction. It became an addictive cycle—I craved more, always more.

After a year or two of dating, things spiraled out of control. He fixated on skinny girls and expected me to conform to his ideal. He would weigh me almost every day, and the limit he set was 100 pounds (around 45 kilograms). With a height of approximately 5'4" (163 centimeters), if he saw that I had surpassed that limit, he would pressure me to go on a diet. I would resort to extreme measures, like the so-called banana diet, surviving solely on bananas and water for an entire week, just to shed about 10 pounds in such a short time.

I had become nothing more than a doll, manipulated and controlled by him.

Whenever I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I saw nothing but fat. I was consumed by thoughts of how I could improve my appearance to garner more love from my boyfriend.

By the time of our graduation, he betrayed me with infidelity, and we broke up. My heart shattered, but so did my body. The impact on my depression was immense—I abstained from food for almost a month. My weight plummeted to less than 77 pounds (35 kilograms), and my menstrual cycle came to a halt. It was during a swimming outing with my family that I noticed my protruding ribs, resembling a skeletal figure, and I was utterly shocked by my own reflection.

In the midst of such circumstances, it is often challenging to recognize the toxicity and harm that love can inflict. However, I am now with a partner who consistently reminds me of my beauty, even in moments when I do not feel attractive. He is genuinely happy to see me enjoy food and accepts me even though I am much larger than I used to be when I was very skinny.

To anyone plagued by negative body image due to society's toxic and unhealthy beauty standards perpetuated by the media, I want to emphasize that you are not living for someone else. You are a precious human being who is already perfect just as you are. If someone fails to recognize your worth, they are not the right partner for you.

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