Finally Reduced

Ronit Plank

But you can’t have a chocolate frosted donut from the Entemann’s box on the kitchen table, the kind you can see through the clear plastic lid—your father says they’re for your sister and him because they don’t have double chins, cheeks-for-weeks, clothes that won’t zip up the whole way, and when you see the girls in your class, their torsos lean, their abs articulated, their waists cinched with a fraction of the belt length you need to wrap around yours, you remember how you don’t match up because that is what takes up all the space in your head besides what you have more than enough of which is yourself: there is too much of you, you are too much, much too much, and the way people stare is a confirmation so you wear two bras to hide your shape: a compression sports bra over the one with pilled beige material and wide straps that indent your skin in the slick Manhattan summer and you count the lithe women who you pass on the street in their clickety-click stilettos, how they can walk in those without getting blisters you’ll never understand because you get blisters and how they know not to finish their plates and always look small and like they need caring for, maybe that’s why you never seem to meet anyone, and when the costume department issues you a corset for Les Liaisons Dangereuses—you play “Emilie the Whore”—you wear it to parties and classes underneath your regular clothes so you can forget for a while the way men look at you, the rolls of fat that otherwise spill over your jeans, but then you do it; you manage to shrink, your body has listened, is finally reduced, and when you clutch your waist in front of the closet mirror your hands meet in the middle, fingertips resting on that new hollow place, you got what you thought you wanted but can no longer ignore how much you keep giving away: your voice, desire, intuition, strength, a quiet knowing about the things you believe in, your fire, and you sink to the floor and hold yourself because you feel how many pieces of you are missing, another part of you is gone.


Ronit is a writer, editor, and podcaster whose work has been published in The Iowa Review, American Literary Review, The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Rumpus, Hippocampus, Writer’s Digest, and elsewhere. Her first book is the memoir When She Comes Back and her short story collection Home is A Made-Up Place, winner of the 2020 Eludia Award will be out later this year. She is nonfiction editor at The Citron Review and she is @ronitplank on Twitter and Instagram. Find her writing and podcasts at