It Starts with Teeth

Note: This piece was written by a woman who has chosen to remain anonymous.


The week before you graduate high school, you get your wisdom teeth removed. 

You vomit out your first dose of medicine, and Mama decides it’s best you didn’t take them again. So you spend the better part of two months gargling salt water and eating nothing but clear broths and gravy— and naturally, you lose about 10 pounds from it. 

Well at least one good thing came of this, Mama says, now you just need to keep it off.


The next summer, you do a two-week juice cleanse. One of those cleanses you get from an Instagram post that requires a $40 book, but guarantees you’ll lose 16 lbs in 14 days. 

For two weeks, you made smoothies that made you shit constantly— but all that comes out is water, because those smoothies are your only source of food. 

You have so much discipline.

Mama smiles at you proudly as your head grows light. 

A few days before winter break, you get a stomach bug. 

You spend two days vomiting and another two not eating. 

When you get home, Auntie gets a pizza from Costco, and it’s the best pizza you’ve ever tasted. 

You eat four greasy slices before Mama shouts at you—

Stop! You’ve had enough!


That summer, Mama goes on a trip for a few weeks. 

At 116 lbs, you decide you are much too heavy and that you’re going to lose 20 lbs by the time you see Mama again. 

You start running every day— up to six miles. All you eat is a package of Belvita crackers. 

When your brother offers you a bite of his taco, you yell at him. And when you fall off the treadmill at the gym, you tell the patron that makes you drink chocolate milk that you’re just out of shape. 

You go to California the next week and gorge yourself on food. 

When you see Mama the week after that, she says you’ve gained weight— you already weigh so much more than she ever did— and are getting too old to not watch your figure— at your age, she was already working out twice a day and eating once. 


You stare at a box of pink pills—your roommate has already picked up on your hesitance to eat breakfast and dinner, you can’t have her pick up on this too. 

For the most part, you’ve stopped obsessing over quick fixes because of her. But you’re going home for Thanksgiving soon. 

Every day for a week, you pop a laxative. 

When nobody shows concern over your weight loss, you do the same before winter break. 

After Christmas, Mama says she’s worried about you. 

That you’re discarding your health and will soon become fat. 

Healthy girls attract good men and get good jobs. And if you keep gaining weight, you won’t have either. She doesn’t think you find value in yourself.

She starts to cry because she just wants you to have an easy life, and you start to cry too.

Mama calls you gaunt when you return home from a brief trip. 

She looks at you with concern in her eyes as she bombards you with questions:

Did your friends not feed you? They did, you ate any and everything in sight.   

Did you feel sick? Not even a little.

You go upstairs and look at yourself in the mirror; your waist has turned inward and your stomach has flattened— age has done what no amount of starvation ever could. 

She fusses over you like you’re a fragile doll— pushes food your way constantly and watches you eat with nervousness instead of resentment. 

You know she’s scared for you, but for the first time in a long time, it feels like she’s calling you beautiful.

Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.

Our name is poking fun at the stereotype that all Asians are overachievers, especially Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. It’s also in recognition of all of us who have had no choice but to be overachievers: managing societal expectations, family obligations, and educational opportunities, all while fighting the patriarchy.

We have grown since then, putting out bimonthly issues (we are contributor powered: apply to write for our next one!), and weekly reviews of culture, and news that is important to us.

You can find announcements, more news, and get to know our staff on social media: give us a follow, and learn how you can get involved today!

We do not claim to speak for all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. We are just here to give them a place to speak for themselves.

We hope you’ll join us.

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