This Baby Loves Her Back

My boobs were bigger when I was 10 years old than they are now.

Something happened the summer before I started middle school — my mom let me shave my legs for the first time (at our lake house in a bikini, terrified of cutting myself), acne snickered at my skin and well, every top I owned suddenly was a bit too small. And though I had always waited quite impatiently to look like a real woman, when those curves arrived sooner than expected, I wished they would go away.

Having an inappropriate body for a young girl brought all sorts of things — unwanted attention from older guys, untrue rumors at school because surely if my body looked sexual, I must also be sexual in nature. The truth was I found myself wearing a 32 D-cup and sincerely had no idea what to do with such a massive and speedy physical transition. I hadn’t “french kissed” a boy and yet I had a chest to insinuate I was ready for quite more than that.

Sixth grade was really the first year I started cursing my own body. I was too heavy on top. My stomach pooched more than the other girls in gym class. I couldn’t run as fast because my breasts were too heavy. My skin was speckled. My teeth weren’t perfect and I didn’t want braces. The other girls were prettier. They were skinnier. They didn’t have awfully huge knockers that I hated so badly I kept them only in sports bras for years until one of my friends demanded I wear a proper underwire freshman year of college.

Throughout my many growing body pains, my pants and dress size fluctuated too. Following a stressful period my sophomore year of high school, I gained close to 20 pounds and kept it on until I graduated. To compensate for my insecurity, I covered up the extra weight in loose-fitting clothing and cardigans to cover what I saw as embarrassing rolls in every place. When I went off to college, I not only had to walk — uphill, literally in snow — everywhere I went, but I discovered a newfound love for running, too. The thing that triggered my actual shedding of the baggage around my midsection and thighs wasn’t anything healthy though — it was the depression I fell into following that terribly awful thing that happened on my 18th birthday.

And then I was thrown into a dark world of strange feelings about my body.

Not only was it slowly shrinking due to quite a loss of appetite and desire for much of anything, I also felt foreign to my own limbs. And maybe more devastating to me, that power I had always felt sexually since I lost my virginity to my high school sweetheartfaded. I didn’t want to be naked and I really didn’t want to be touched — unless it was a touch of love. And love was pretty much void for most of college. I didn’t know how to get back all of that fire that got me through everything, so I took the advice of someone special and I faked it until I made it. I led one of the sections at the student newspaper, I volunteered, I became an orientation leader and I went on dates with men I knew I’d never actually care about. And inside, I felt like the ugliest person alive. Like this body I had, was damaged or broken, that it wasn’t worthy of what I once thought it was.

But after lots of counseling and even more determination to pull myself back up, I found myself interning in New York and starting to finally feel beautiful. Or maybe glamorous is the right word. My bra was not only significantly emptier but my waist and heavy heart was too, making me feel unstoppable and vibrant in a city that mostly defines itself by beauty. Or at least being surrounded by it, that is. But when you spend your time trying to be social and liberated and basking in the light of a bright new chapter, you also start drinking more. When I returned to finish my last year-and-a-half of college, I found myself staring at yet another number on the scale I didn’t like and pulling out those hefty bras I thought I could throw away.

And so this pattern continued pretty frequently over the next five years… until last summer.

Mr. Possibility was still in my life — in and out — and though he did help me get over my intense hatred of my acne (“Those are only your freckles!“), he didn’t do much for my body image. His love (and constant praise) of those 5’10-and-up skinny, long-legged gals made my shorter, curvier, womanly frame feel unworthy. Unappreciated. Not good enough for any successful man in New York. While almost every guy I’ve dated (Dr. Heart included) has adored the little extra I’ve always packed, I’ve never felt quite comfortable having them like it so much. If it jiggled or wiggled or moved at all, surely it’s not an attractive sight for a man to see.

But in the sweltering heat of the July sun, after a knock-down, drag-out fight that ultimately kicked Mr. P out of my life for mostly good with the shocking slam of a taxi cab door — I made a decision to be beautiful.

Scratch that — to feel beautiful. To embrace my beauty. To accept it. To know it’s there.

And as much as falling in love with myself is more than my mirror’s reflection, a positive, accurate body image is part of the courting, too. I got back into running after a long-delayed absence, I starting drowning myself in water, I went on Accutane to get rid of 15-year-old acne and I stopped comparing myself to every girl that I saw.

That last one was the doozy.

I had been measuring myself up against every pretty lady I passed, wondering if she had all the things I wanted because her thighs were the size I wished mine were. Or her skin had never seen a bad day. Or her teeth were aligned so symmetrically it blinded me. Instead of seeing perfection in everyone around me — and ignoring my own shine — I started reminding myself about how superbly awesome my body is.

And maybe more importantly — how incredible it will be one day.

Now, it can run 6 miles and not be out of breath. It can make it through an intense Pilates session and hit the pavement minutes later. It can endure the brutality of the city and stay in step with the fastest New Yorkers who push by. It’s hand can comfort a puppy who has a nightmare in the middle of the night. It can hold the head of a friend in need or embrace a celebratory moment. It can rock out a black mini and a red dress, and then look equally good — and damn it, curvy as hell — in tight workout pants and t-shirt an hour later. It can curl and go straight, it can go natural or pageant-faced and be just as pretty. Even if the beauty is in the fruitful flaws.

But one day — it’ll even be better. It’ll produce life. It’ll carry a baby. It’ll give birth to that baby. It’ll grow and stretch and sag and wrinkle and change and with all of that, it’ll just get more astounding. It’ll get lines and have scars that hold meaning — ones that were caused by things I survived. Or memories that were worth every bit of pain. It’ll be touched by a man worthy enough to be loved by me for the rest of his life. It’ll be held delicately because it’s precious and one of a kind.

And it’s mine.

So why not love it? Why not be madly in love with it? Big boobs, freckled cheeks, a baby-got’s-back rear end, frizzy hair in all-weather and everything in between belongs to me. And to me, all of it is beautiful.

Sex(less) & the City

Sometimes I wish I was a skank.

Pardon my language –but sometimes, I think it’d be easier. If I could just jump from one bed to the other, not feeling (or at least pretending not to) anything, having incredible orgasms, and not worrying if they would call or if it would turn into love –I think I’d be a lot happier.

If I could be just nonchalant and easy-going, enjoy great sex just as much as I enjoy great wine and travel –maybe I’d be a little more “cool” or one of those elusive girls that men are always drawn to. But then, again I wouldn’t care if men were drawn to me –because I’d be mysterious and aloof.

While I tend to be forward-thinking about many things, sex isn’t one of them. Like love (big surprise here, huh?), I tend to find sex to be this very intimate, personal, and powerful thing that should only be shared with two people who sincerely care about each other. I think it can be very stress-relieving and dirty-passionate too, but I don’t feel comfortable letting my inhibitions and my panties go –unless I’m committed and in love with someone.

This kind of mentality, in my opinion, makes me classy (or a prude) –but at the same time, it can make for some pretty lengthy kiss-less and sex-less periods. I plan on the payoff one day being well worth it –but sometimes it just flat out sucks.

Even though I know how serious I take intimacy, and even though I’m doing the 12-steps, I decided that part of trying not to be a love addict is taking the pressure off things. If I want to make out with some cute guy or if I want him to run his hand down my back (or thigh, or both?) –I should be able to do that without freaking out.

Right? Ehhh…

Mr. Unavailable and I had a little too much red wine on Friday night and we took our platonic friendship to a different level that involved some kissing, some holding, and some regrettable thoughts the next day…on my part anyways. So of course, like any good love addict, I then spent the rest of the weekend obsessing about what in the world I had done.

No, I didn’t have sex. No, I didn’t sleep around. No, I didn’t fall in love or fall in hate. No, I just acted on the naturally burning and ever-evolving desire inside of me. I was longing to be cuddled, to feel sexy, to feel the weight of a man pressed up against me, and to feel secure –so I took an opportunity.

The problem is –no matter how much recovery I go through or steps I take –kissing and making out and being physical –will always mean something to me. And while I don’t think this is a bad thing, I also don’t think it makes me very good at being “single.” I mean, even Julia Roberts couldn’t handle it in “Pretty Woman” – she ended up falling in love and packing up her sexy hooker boots (they’re coming back in style, yay!) and letting her guard down with Richard Gere –and we never blamed her once for it.

My friend L says I should be using this time in my life to “have fun.” In her terms and before she was in her relationship, this meant random drunken kisses and sometimes even sexual partners. I think my friend is beautiful and wonderful –and so much freer than I am. If she would have made out with Mr. Unavailable, it wouldn’t have mattered much to her the next few days…but for me, it consumed my weekend.

And it hurt me. He didn’t hurt me. The situation didn’t hurt me. The kissing and the fire didn’t hurt me. The friendship didn’t hurt me.

The thoughts hurt me.

The punishing myself for “letting go” or “trying something new.” The pit in the bottom of my stomach that continued to grow because I know it would never become anything more than just a friends-with-benefits (term I hate, by the way). Even if I didn’t want more, knowing that it wouldn’t be more –hurt. And it hurt that I thought of my actions and the experience the rest of the weekend –during drinks, at dinner, while shopping, while sitting at the laundry mat writing this entry.

So why do I feel guilty? Or is it that I feel rejected? Or betrayed? And if betrayed –by who? By myself? By my morals? I knew what cards were on the table and I willingly made the decision to play the hand I played. There was no poker face, no leading-on, no mystery, no question –we both knew exactly what we were doing and we both said what we expected.

If I had no expectations and wasn’t even certain of my feelings or of what it would mean to me –why does it hurt?