Interview: Amie Zimmerman’s Obsession

Editor Matty Byloos, Interview, May 17th, 2016

"blue acid wash Guess jeans in size zero. My thighs still touch..."

Zak Smith art for NAILED
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NAILED MAGAZINE: Have you ever been obsessed with any particular part of your body? Where did the obsession start, where did it lead, and what was the evolution over time?

AMIE ZIMMERMAN: It would be too easy to say Kate Moss’s thigh gap was the cause of my eating disorders. Truly, it had begun years before she came on the scene—this obsession with a space between my upper inner thighs

I came to it honestly. Thinning and tightening the most trafficked part of me seemed an easy solution to the conflict: whether to welcome or ward off. Desire to spread, shame for having been pried open.

A track, on loop, in my head: do not eat. Do not eat for as long as possible. When you find you have to eat, eat as much as you can and find a clean white toilet. While eating, drink plenty of water—this will make the reversal slightly more pleasant, leave you with fewer burst blood vessels in and around the eyes. Think about your thigh gap. This will help your thigh gap. Make you prettier in the ugliest part of you.

I join Weight Watchers at twelve. Achieve my goal weight of 96 pounds and am rewarded with pink and blue acid wash Guess jeans in size zero. My thighs still touch. It takes me exactly three months to burst the zipper after I resume eating. Within one year I will have been raped again, twice.

Do calisthenics. Repeated motions meant to strengthen and tone very specific muscle groups using your own body weight as resistance—your own body as resistance. Lie on your side, propped up with one elbow and balance on your hip with top leg bent either in front of or behind your bottom knee. Lift your straightened leg by contracting the muscle of your upper inner thigh. You will begin to shake but this is nothing new.

I take six to eight Mini-Thins multiple times daily in order to not eat. Drive up to Washington to purchase several bottles at a time. Oregon has already banned ephedrine in 1995. I give plasma twice weekly for smokes and to afford shows at La Luna. Arrive early at the plasma center, attempt meditation. A 105 resting heart rate makes the intake woman shake her head, send me away. I don’t get paid. I am the thinnest I will be as an adult. My thighs still touch.

Go on synthetic hormone birth control. Tax your impoverished metabolism, gain one hundred pounds in your first year of marriage. Become covered in blood red stretch marks across your upper arms, your breasts, hips, stomach, and upper thighs. Understand you will feel all of your flesh touching your own flesh all of the time. It is your fault. Remember that when he says he feels tricked. Stay like this for a decade.

I drink hard. Then drink harder. Discover the man I married is not the love of my life.

Try to outrun this knowledge on a treadmill, acknowledge futility. Wake up one day and decide to inhabit my body anyway. Abandon pretense, forsake marriage. Torch everything I touch. A non-escape from a non-prison.

Stay in your body. Trust your body as an adult, though it seemed to betray you as a child. Sweat. Feel exhaustion and answer by sleeping. Desire, and do not exit to your head when you feel fear. You have been starving. Learn grief. Let your body use it to fuse flesh to muscle to bone.

I find myself draped in skin, burnt calories fleeing and deflating and puckering folded tissue. I am not thin, but I am strong. My thighs touch each other. I do not feel the need to separate me from me.

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Header image courtesy of Zak Smith. To read his installment of Sex Stories on NAILED, go here.

amie zimmermanAmie Zimmerman lives in Portland, Oregon, with her teenage son. She cuts hair for wages, writes for love, and attempts to take credit for the plants growing in her yard. She’s the poetry editor at Drunk In A Midnight Choir, and has been published online and in print. Her favorite food is grapes.

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Matty Byloos

Matty Byloos is Co-Publisher and a Contributing Editor for NAILED. He was born 7 days after his older twin brother, Kevin Byloos. He is the author of 2 books, including the novel in stories, ROPE ('14 SDP), and the collection of short stories, Don't Smell the Floss ('09 Write Bloody Books).