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Old 2nd Nov 2007, 12:22 AM DefaultThe Dark Side of Beauty #1
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Join Date: Jan 1970
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Back when the skinny model controversy was in the news so much, I wrote this piece. After seeing a news report about it, I wondered why anorexia and bullimia were never mentioned in history. It made me curious: was it a problem back then? Did it even exist? This piece is a little older and not my best work, but I still wanted to share it. It's set in medieval times and is a result of that thought train; feedback is much appreciated, hope you enjoy it.

The Dark Side of Beauty

He knew it was wrong.

He knew it was irrational, unjustified, self-harming, dangerous, unhealthy, illogical, unreasonable… but he couldn’t stop himself. Every time he tried to kick the horrible habit he couldn’t help but cling to, utter jealousy would thunder through his veins and fuel his course of action once again. It was an everyday occurrence, a necessity, a requirement, a ritual, an addiction.

And, oh, what a powerful addiction it was. So powerful that he frantically endeavored to hide it like a man crazed, desperately trying to delude himself into thinking that his family and friends couldn’t see him failing before their very eyes. And the more he tried to fool himself, the more potent and realistic the gut-wrenching truth became.

They knew.

He had panicked, retreating to that all-too familiar addiction that seemed to torment and pleasure him all at once. His agony and confusion had been relieved as he knelt over the usual commode, pouring out all of his heartbreak and insecurity in the typical manner. And when he had finished, wiping the back of his hand across his mouth and quickly disposing of the remnants of his addiction to maintain a suitable public figure, he had somehow felt relieved. Somehow, he had felt cleansed. Somehow, he had felt redeemed.

But there was no redemption. He hated watching himself, knowing that he grew more and more skeletal each day, growing more and more like a wraith and dying just a little more inside. He hated watching the concerned faces of his family and friends crumple when he retreated to his chamber after a meal, hated watching their spirits sink and their hope diminish just a little more.

He constantly asked himself why he continued existing in such a pitiable manner, why he couldn’t abandon his selfish ruse. He could never answer his own questions, too tormented to delve deep into himself, too afraid of what monstrosities he might find.

But he knew the answer. He was jealous, utterly and incurably jealous. Jealous of the perfect bodies that surrounded him, jealous of their ability to gorge themselves and remain impossibly slender. Jealous and maybe a little, no, a lot insecure.

And yet he couldn’t stop himself. The ritual, the addiction, the damned addiction became a necessity, a way of life that become so ordinary that it seemed like it had always been a part of him. And he hated himself for it, hated knowing the heartwrenching concern and miserable curiosity he caused those around him.

And still, he couldn’t stop.

His cynical, sardonic side found the situation almost comical. The dark side of beauty, he laughed bitterly to himself. If only everyone could see what he had been reduced to, if only everyone knew of his misery. He was certain that their eyes would take on the pitiable, slightly concerned glance he had been the subject of so many times before. “How sad,” they would say, voice becoming a bit downcast at the end of the phrase for an added effect of false sympathy. And then they would smile and continue conversing, no longer caring about the one who had died to be just like them, another mindless drone too concerned with his own image to care about precious individuality.

And so he sat, listening to the pounding of the rain on his sturdy roof, dejected and reflecting bitterly on his miserable existence. He bent to retrieve the familiar commode from its easily accessible place beneath his bed, the typical feeling of self-loathing and helpless addiction surging through his veins as he settled the commode on his lap.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered tearfully to himself, apologizing for the horrible habit that he was too dependent upon to break away from. “I’m sorry.”

Just as he raised his index finger to shove down his throat, his humiliating but sweet release was interrupted when the wooden door to his chambers burst open. He glanced up, infuriated at being intruded on but terrified and panicked at the prospect of being caught in the act. He frantically scrambled to replace the commode beneath his bed, hoping desperately that his visitor had not yet entered the room and he was still safely undiscovered, but it was not so.

He glanced up fearfully to meet his father’s gaze, a halo of silky hair surrounding the regal, handsome features contorted with shock, concern, and a bit of something else that he hesitated to identify.


Shame flooded over him like water crashing onto a beach, a tidal wave of disgrace, humiliation, self-loathing, despair, horror, and the same feeling of disappointment. Disappointment in his weakness, in his humanity.

Disappointment in himself.

“I’m sorry!” he repeated again in utmost desperation, longing for his father’s soothing embrace but too ashamed of what he had become to reach out. “I’m sorry!”

And so his father stood paralyzed in the doorframe, well aware of his son’s burning desire for comfort but currently unable to give it. He gazed at his child in astonishment, truly seeing for the first time in months. He had seen, yes- he had known of his son’s illness, but had ignored it to keep his precarious sanity in check. He had ignored his child’s needs for the sake of the kingdom, for the sake of himself. He hadn’t wanted to admit that his son, normally so resolute and strong, had a problem. He hadn’t wanted to admit that there was a flaw, a flaw that he’d never wanted to see. And, now that he was seeing what his child had become, the disturbing visual seemed to cripple him.

There on the bed sat his son, his only child, fathomless cerulean eyes brimming with disappointed tears as he trembled in anticipation of his father’s reaction. There sat his son, a husk of his former self, reduced to a heap of bird-like, protruding bones and papery skin. There sat his son, a model of everything he had never wanted to be simply because of his father’s inability to act.

His father sighed.

His child wasn’t the only one disappointed in himself tonight.

Do I dare disturb the universe?
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Old 2nd Nov 2007, 5:55 PM #2
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Very interesting concept, and I like your choice of a male main character - a lot of people think eating disorders are a girl's problem when there are quite a few guys who have them too. I like how you've written it, too... beautifully described, yet ugly in content, if that makes any sense. I also tend to have a bit of an unusual affection for short pieces in which the characters aren't specifically named.

I'm sure such things did happen in history - certainly they were the sort of things that the individual would hide, the family would too if they found out, and there wouldn't be much study of as a disorder, so it's no wonder we don't hear of it. Our cultural perception of beauty has changed somewhat, but for many, those sorts of things aren't just about staying thin and pretty, so it's likely it still happened sometimes.

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Old 2nd Nov 2007, 7:12 PM #3

Join Date: Jan 1970
Posts: 25

Very impressive piece of writing, you have embodied the anonymous protagonist with a real sense of self-hatred, fear and pity.Unlike many writers, you used your powers of description to illustrate an addiction or a defect in the characters personality whichisboth refreshing and powerfull and adds depth and subtance to something that is so immaterial and thusly difficult to describe.

Well done.
Old 6th Nov 2007, 11:44 PM #4
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Thanks to both of you for your kind words ! crazyfoolgaf, I often find that immaterial, intangible things are some of the most captivating subjects to write about.

Do I dare disturb the universe?
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