This is the first of the Body Diversity series stories I will be posting. These stories accompany the Body Diversity exhibit. Over the next couple weeks I’ll be sharing many of the stories of each of the models in the exhibit and how their stories came through in the photograph. Meet Mikkel Prim.
There I was walking down Main Street in the small town of Algona Washington. Before 6th grade I had never looked in the mirror thinking anything negative about my body. I had always been teased about my stutter but nothing of the magnitude of the middle school I was about to enter. The day I stepped into that classroom my entire life was flipped upside down. Only a few weeks into the school year I was perceived as gay. I had never said a word about my sexuality, let alone even acknowledged my own sexuality. I had faggot written on my binder, backpack, and sweatshirt in big bold print. I was shaken and stunned, I had never before thought of myself in such a cruel and demeaning manner. That same day when I got home, I looked in the mirror for hours. I thought that it had to be something physical about me. It just had to be. Going from head to toe I went over every part of my body and couldn’t articulate a single answer. This went on until it was unbearable, so unbearable in fact that I had started to do whatever I could to be different.
I went from a fresh-faced 13 years old to an emaciated kid with a pale complexion. I mostly stopped eating for the most part and if I did it was nothing of substance. The harassment and teasing had gotten so bad that I needed an escape, any escape that I was able to control. I remember vividly walking home from the school bus stop, walking into my house, making a stop in the utility room then locking myself in the bathroom. The item that I had retrieved from the utility room was a razor blade; I wasn’t looking to take my life I just knew that I would rather take the physical pain over the mental torturing.
By this point I had fallen in with the wrong group of friends, my father had left, and my mother was in the middle of a recovering from a nervous breakdown. I took solitude in my neighbor. He was a tow truck driver who lived next to my best friend. He would buy us alcohol because we were young and he was trying to get close to someone. But we didn’t know who until I got too drunk and passed out. I woke up to him touching me; I was paralyzed with fear; I didn’t know what to do. I can now realize what he had been doing for all the months leading up to that moment. He had been grooming me, making me feel as though he was the only one who could truly be there for me. After the first encounter, the abuse continued for 10 months, during which I had probably been cutting myself for 8 months, flipping back and forth from anorexia to bulimia, and taking drugs and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. I was drinking and using narcotics on a daily basis to be able to cope with what was happening to me. I didn’t dare tell a soul what was happening to me. It was so awful that I believed that I deserved what was happening to me. After 10 months of being sexually abused I attempted suicide in my shower by trying to overdose on my mothers painkillers and cut my wrists I didn’t get very far before my mom found me and called an ambulance. I had finally had enough; I turned my rapist in to the police and agreed with my family and my defense attorney that I needed to be admitted to intensive inpatient counseling. It was an 11-month struggle; even while in the program I continued cutting for four more months before they finally caught me. The counselor sat me down and asked why I was doing this to myself. I told her it was because I hated myself. She told me, and I will never forget, “We will strip your room. You will have a mattress and a blanket and we will beat this together if it is going to come to this.” For the first time I knew I was going to move past this.
Over the period of being in inpatient I went from 164 pounds to 254 pounds. Now I looked in the mirror and all I saw were scars from cutting and the stretch marks that taunted me each time I saw them. When I left treatment and went to live with my grandparents, I ran, and ran, and then ran some more until I would collapse from exhaustion. I got myself down to a mere 147 pound and a size 28 waist and then would look in the mirror and tell myself that I was still not fit and I would never get to where I wanted to be with my body. Since then, to this date, my weight has bounced back and forth because of eating disorders, multiple injuries to my ankles from running, and my on and off pain killer addiction. I still struggle with this on a daily basis but I no longer let it dictate my life. I don’t have a washboard stomach but I am thin, and see the scars of my past and know I have survived to tell an extraordinary story about the fight to fit in, the fight against negative influence, and surviving when the odds weren’t in my favor.