I was 12 or 13 when I bought my first pack of diet pills.
Let me repeat. I was 12 or 13 when I bought my first pack of diet pills. I was in junior high. I’d been hit with so much advertising telling me “thin is in” and it’s wrong to be hungry that I took money I’d saved, either allowance or paper route money, went to the nearby store, and bought a pack of AcuTrim Late Day. “I snack after 3 p.m.,” the lady in the commercial said. So did I; that was when I got home from school, and there were still three hours until dinner, so I snacked. But the commercial said it was wrong, so I set out to get the pill the commercial said would help.
I was terrified. I thought for sure the cashier would look at me, see my age, and refuse to sell me the pills. I thought she would call a manager, that the manager would chastise me, take the pills away, threaten to call my parents. Nothing like that happened; I was sold the pills without incident.
I was afraid the pills would be huge. I had trouble swallowing pills then, often gagging and throwing up when I had to take the giant antibiotics for my frequent sinus infections and bouts of bronchitis. They weren’t; they were about the size of a four-hour Sudafed.
I hid the pills in the front pocket of my purse. I don’t think I told anyone about them. I don’t remember telling anyone about them. I took them on the sly, when no one was around. I didn’t finish that first pack, though. I went to take them one day, and the foil card was missing. It wasn’t in my purse anymore. I started to panic; someone must have found them. I was sure my mother had taken them, that I was going to be in trouble, that a lecture was coming, that I would be grounded for months and months.
Nothing happened. I still don’t know whether it was actually my mother that took them. If it was my mother that took them, I don’t know why she was going through my purse. Neither parent ever said anything to me about the pills. No one came to me and said, “You’re too young to take these,” or “You don’t need these,” or anything else like that. The pills just disappeared, and that was supposedly that.
I told you I was 12 or 13 when I bought my first pack of diet pills.
I didn’t tell you I wore a size small shirt and size 7 jeans when I bought my first pack of diet pills.
I didn’t tell you that going by pediatric growth charts, my doctor described me as “lean and mean” when I bought my first pack of diet pills.
No one told me I didn’t need those pills.