It was 4:00 in Paris, and I had just one hour left before the museums closed. I had never been to the Musée D'Orsay, but have always wanted to go, so I decided that I would head on over there and try to catch a few of the masterpieces before closing, perhaps the famous Van Gogh self portrait or his "starry night", maybe some Renoir, or whatever other masterpiece that I may stumble upon in the goldmine of art. It was freezing cold outside as I waited in line to get through the security and ticket line, and my stomach was rumbling with hunger. I had a late lunch at the hotel not long ago, but after taking the old fashioned way to the museum -- by foot -- not by Uber or by metro, I had racked up an appetite just 30 minutes later.
A normal person who feels hunger will eat; however, when recovering from anorexia, the cues that signal in your stomach, then run to your brain, and then determine your actions, do not align. These demons kept telling me that it was not "appropriate" for me to be hungry again so soon after eating, so instead of stopping for a delicious bite in one of the many Parisian cafes, I walked right past all of them as they proudly displayed their baguettes, croissants, and other various bites of scrumptiousness. My mouth watered with every step. I was in Paris, the most glamorous city in the world, known for high fashion and model looks, and as I walked down the Rue Saint Honoré, with its fancy stores touting high-fashion-size-zero mannequins behind their glass facades, something about this made me want to attain this stereotype of modern beauty and blend in with the scene.
So I ignored my stomach, let it scream and cry, and lead a failing effort to focus on the brilliance surrounding me in the heart of Paris along the Seine. When I finally put foot inside the Museé d'Orsay it was a quarter past four -- nearly closing -- and my hunger had now progressed into exhaustion and fatigue, so I decided to just focus on a small area near the entrance. But what happened next changed my entire day. When I entered this small room, I saw these three paintings on the wall in front of me, and my entire mindset shifted.
As you can see, these three paintings of goddesses posing in all of their majesty and grace, appear very different than the women worshipped in today's magazines and advertisements. If these women were around today they would have to shop in the plus-size department, but in their time, they were the epitome of beauty and femininity. They have curves in all the right places -- their breasts, their hips, stomach, and arms. Their naked bodies do not appear to be merely objects of sexuality, striking a sexy pose and preening for the camera, but rather they hold themselves with grace, elegance, and confidence. They appear larger than life. Their faces are also not the typical beauty that we see today -- they do not have round eyes and an upturned nose. They are unique and imperfect.
And as I stared at these paintings, a transformation ran through me. All of my rational thoughts reemerged and began to challenge the evil demons that yelled at me when I was hungry and cold in line. A new voice took hold of me and challenged my irrational thoughts. But this voice was different than the voice of the demons. It was strong and firm, but kind and caring, much like a mother to her child. And I realized that this is the voice that all young women must hear when falling prey to the demons that our modern-day society throws upon us, urging us to become objects of desire and lose weight. This voice asked me -- "Why should you punish yourself and feel hunger and weakness just to please others?" Then the voice gave me one command -- a command so urgent, yet so simple -- "Go to the cafeteria and eat!"
And so I did just that. I had 20 minutes left in the museum, and rather than spend time viewing masterpieces of art that people flock from around the world to see, I went to the small museum cafeteria and ordered a baguette. As I ate this baguette and let the nourishment fill my body with energy and warmth, I felt a strong affinity to the paintings of the three women, as well as to all of the other images of strong, healthy, and heroic women filling the museum at every corner.
Hundreds and thousands of people entered and departed the museum that day and viewed those three paintings, but I can say with full confidence that none of them felt such a kinship or experienced such a life-altering experience as I did. I will be back one day to the Museé D'Orsay. I do not know what my life will be like at that point, but I do know one thing -- I will be healthy and strong, and I will finally have the energy to see all the museum has to offer.