The past two weeks I took a detour from my body image posts to give attention to Thanksgiving and the loss of a family member. Today’s post continues on the body image theme. I’d love to see you in one of my Embodiment classes beginning in January and February. For more information and to register go to “writing and speaking events.”
In the summer of 1983, I sunbathed on a topless beach.
I was eighteen, had just graduated from high school, and wanted to experience life beyond my small town, so I signed up to explore France as a foreign exchange student. I had no idea I would be exploring such things as whether or not one should wear a full bathing suit in public.
Although surrounded by bare boobs and lots of skin, I chose instead, to clothe myself in a one-piece swimsuit. I imagine my modesty received more stares than all the tanned breasts bobbing up and down that beach.
As a teen, I was self-conscious. I envisioned myself as offensive as those old men in Speedos. You know the ones: beer gut, flat butt, skinny legs. Nobody needs to be exposed to that.
In my 20s, I succumbed to a two-piece, tanning as much skin as possible. I also discovered sand volleyball with my body benefitting from bumping, setting, and spiking. Stronger arms. Stronger legs. Stronger core.
In my 30s, I had babies and a temporarily enhanced full bosom while breast-feeding. I enjoyed showing off those swollen mammary glands.
In my 40s, my breasts disappeared, and my stomach reappeared. It was during this time and after an aqua kickboxing class at the YMCA, that I made a drastic decision.
Glass windows surrounded the pool like a giant fishbowl, allowing other members perfect viewing from all levels and angles. I was in the front row, kicking and punching, perturbed by an unsolicited audience, but determined to remain focused on my better-body goal. Then…the unthinkable happened. One of the pads enhancing my size A post-breast-feeding breasts nonchalantly floated past me. I gasped, grabbed it during my next punch, and as inconspicuously as possible stuffed it into my top, as I brought my arm back to a ready, fight position. Unfortunately, I stuffed it into the wrong side and now sported a more-than-lopsided chest.
I was mortified.
I got out of that pool and finally caved to the idea of getting breast implants. No more push-up brassieres. No more pads. No more silicone inserts. I would be big and beautiful. Or so I thought.
At midlife I became resentful of the “boob job.” It represented everything that I wasn’t. I didn’t need big breasts to make me feel better about my body. My extra-large heart and full-functioning brain more than made up for what I lacked in my boa-constricting bra.
So, in the summer of 2019, I had my implants removed. After years of struggling with body image issues of “not enough” or “too much,” I’m learning to feel just right, just as I am.
And now, what am I going to do with myself?
“Ooo la la! South of France here I come!”