Who Loves It Most

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Halimah Marcus’s intimate essay on her battle with anorexia, self-denial, and the destructive allure of devotion and sacrifice.
Growing up as a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Muslim in Philadelphia, Halimah Marcus felt the sting of never fitting in. Until a summer of change. In riding horses, Halimah becomes empowered. In her friend Melissa, she finds a sense of belonging with a competitive edge. Desperate to transform, Halimah also discovers an avenue of rebellion against her parents’ stricture: anorexia.
As Halimah’s body slips into the starved state she covets, the liberating joy of riding begins to falter. The more control Halimah has over her body, the less she has over her horse. Her trainer gives her a choice: be thin or ride.
Who Loves It Most is Halimah’s reflection on the fragile balance of body and spirit that teenage American girls are expected to master. For Halimah, that balance becomes a religion, a place where the body is an altar of both worship and sacrifice. Ultimately, she discovers, recovery lies not in what we deny ourselves but in what we embrace.

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