I wasn’t always comfortable with my body. As a teen, not only did I struggle with my sexual impulses, I saw my body as physically flawed too. At one hundred and ten pounds my ribcage showed through my skin and my shoulders appeared to be too broad for my frame, because I’m a big boned girl. I know, I know. I roll my eyes too when I hear those words spoken, but it’s true. My hip bones protruded below a tiny waist that my boyfriend could circle with his long fingers. Adding to my proportion issues, my chest looked like it belonged on a twelve year old boy. My boyfriend often used that as one of the reasons why no one else would be willing to put up with me. It wasn’t always his hands that hurt me.
My body seemed to contradict itself, leaving me very self-conscious with feelings of inadequacy. At nineteen years old I decided to have breast augmentation surgery. My father saw it as a drastic move. He didn’t see the need for breast implants even though my mother had the surgery years earlier. He said he never cared for the way they looked or felt on my mother. My mother, however, was in full support mode for once in my life.
I needed to be happy with what I saw in the mirror, because for so long I didn’t like the image staring back. And I knew a big part of my perception was the emotional beatdown I’d endured as a teenager. I also knew that if I didn’t unfurl the lingering hurt that was knotted in my chest, it was going to eat me alive. In my mind, this was a step in the right direction.
I found an amazing plastic surgeon, a little guy who wore a bow-tie and horn-rimmed glasses. He looked eerily like Groucho Marx but without the cigar. He made it a point to tell me that when I decided to have children, breastfeeding should be rejected for my implant health. He also said there was the possibility of leakage and scar tissue painfully squeezing the implant, but I didn’t hear him. I was in a boob induced haze.
I’ll never forget waking up after surgery, my hands carefully studying my tightly bound chest. I looked down to see swollen mounds of flesh where none had been before. It was a surreal moment and I couldn’t wait to see my new boobs naked. They looked and felt natural, fitting the size of my body perfectly. My new physical confidence bled over into my sexual confidence and I became even more adventurous. I explored men and women. Sometimes I explored them together.
The scar tissue didn’t tighten around my implants and squeeze painfully as the doctor had warned. Not early on anyway. It happened twelve years later, just after the birth of my son. The pain stopped eventually, and I managed to live with it for another ten years. At that point, I was stuck in a marriage with a non-existent sex life and my boobs weren’t important to me anymore. I no longer saw myself as a sexual being.
When my marriage collapsed and my sexual urges began to stir, I suddenly became very conscious of my boobs again. But the implants that once gave me the courage to take off my clothes on stage in front of a crowd of men now deflated my confidence. Every time I took a naked photo, I was acutely aware that my left boob was higher and fuller than my right making me wince, delete, and take another one. Once again, my body is disproportionate and I struggle with what I see in the mirror. And no, the irony is not lost on me.
I made an appointment with a plastic surgeon who attempted to shred my confidence during a consultation. Glossing over my boob issue as if it was an afterthought, he said my first priority should be a tummy tuck to correct the damage done to my abdomen by two cesarean section births. In his shallow opinion, I wouldn’t be happy with my body if I didn’t have the surgery. What he didn’t understand was that I am happy with my body, most of it anyway. And while I may not have the perfect tummy, I’m okay with that. I’ve had two children. Why would I want to erase those beautiful events from my body? Besides, the last thing I want is an ugly scar from hip to hip.
I hated that doctor that day. He tried to strip away my positive body image in order to make a buck and that was wrong. When I told him that I only wanted my boobs fixed, he said, “fine, but you need to lose twenty pounds first.” He tried to make me feel like there was something wrong with me because I didn’t fit his image of perfect. It took all of the strength I had not to punch him in the junk and tell him and his size zero, puffy-lipped nurse to fuck off.
I’ll have the corrective surgery done soon by a different plastic surgeon. One who is not an arrogant, pompous ass. It’s been determined that my implants need to be replaced, my breasts need to be lifted, and my areolas need to be resized and repositioned for aesthetics. There’s also a very real possibility that I may lose sensitivity in my nipples which totally sucks. To be honest, I’m very anxious about all of it. There is so much to take into consideration at this point in my life; my kids, their school and activities, my school and my business. It’s complicated. The surgery itself is long and the recovery will be tough. And the drugs may make me say some bat-shit crazy things to my parents who will be here to help which scares the hell out of me.
I spent too many years downplaying my sexuality and eventually ignoring it altogether. I feel that having my boobs re-done will be the final step in reclaiming my sexual independence from my ex-husband. The last piece to claiming the sexual me. It’s an emotional freedom that will make all of the discomfort from the surgery and the inconvenience worth the hassle. I’ll be happy with my body again. And I’ll be naked a lot. Okay, a lot more.