We’re always being told to love ourselves, right? To love ourselves and love our bodies. Well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but my feeling is that there’s no more difficult thing to try to do. I’ve never been one for convincing myself, for trying to believe something that doesn’t happen naturally; as far as I’m concerned, trying to believe is like trying to orgasm: Ineffective, depressing, not without its hints of irritation. What I’ve done, then, is this: I’m no longer working quite so hard to love my body, I’m rather thinking about the things I don’t love about my body, and considering their silver linings. If you’re anything like I am, I encourage you to the same.
I’m a small-busted lady. They never blossomed into more than bean-bag size, let’s say. I’ve always found this hugely depressing. It’s not like I was in the market for the full-size melons or whatever, I just wanted the slightest bit of oomph, you know? I wanted to look even a little less boyish in a bikini.
But then a couple things happened: The first was that I vocalized my bikini desires to my boyfriend. And he responded: “Sara: How many days out of the year do you wear a bikini?”
And I said, “Three, maybe? Maybe, like, somewhere between three and six?”
And he said, “Right. Now tell me: How many days out of the year do you wear a tank-top that you couldn’t if you’re boobs were big?”
I considered this. “Probably, like, 128,” I said. “So, okay. I take your point.”
Well, between the fact that I’ve always thought France sounded lovely, and the fact that a large part of my wardrobe’s made up of thread-bare, oddly strap-y tank-tops, I decided it was time to let it go. “C’est la vie,” I told myself. “So what if I have breasts that look like bean-bags?”
If I make a point of exercising rigorously, I can have a flat-ish stomach. Frankly, though, I hate exercising, and so do I rarely have a flattish stomach. I have what I do believe is a called a “paunch,” one of those fleshly donuts that occurs if you push together all the flesh around your bellybutton. This had driven me crazy for years. But then something wonderful happened. I was dating this guy for awhile, and though the relationship never amounted to much, we did have one wonderfully affecting conversation. He’d cooked me dinner and served it to me on his roof, which wasn’t even the good part. The good part was that, with a half-bottle of wine in him, he started yammering on about various women he knew who were really active, aggressive runners. (He himself had been this track star in high school, and still went running every day.) And how, as a result of the running – all that high-impact business -– their faces were aging faster.
Which, yes, is totally offensive. But my point is, it freed me up a little bit in terms of the responsibility to care. I was like, “Well, at least there’s that, then: No extra wrinkles to blame on aerobic anything.”
Adult onset acne
In junior high and high school, my skin gave me no problems. I’d get the occasional zit, but mostly I was in the clear, left to obsess over the fact that I was gaining weight everywhere accept my breasts. But then I hit my middle twenties, and suddenly and without warning, I was beset with what I do believe it is commonly referred to as “A Pizza Face.” It started around my hair and chin-line, then slowly but surely started closing in around my nose and eyes. This happened at such an insidious pace, I remember thinking: “Wait: Can people get zits on their eyes? If they can, it will happen to me. I just know it.”
I tried to convince myself that maybe it wasn’t that noticeable, that between my heavy-duty base and cover-up, no one could tell. But then I saw it in a stranger’s face. I’d been online dating at the time, and went out on a first date with this handsome gent, and I saw him see me, and I saw his expression fall. The look that says: “Whoa. You looked different in the photos.” I did, of course, look different than the photos, as I’d chosen those that didn’t show the acne.
Anyway, that’s when I knew I had to get proactive. Not “Proactiv”, but proactive. I succumbed, finally, to Accutane. But I’ll tell you: Sometimes – and this is only occasionally and only ever half-heartedly – I miss the zits. I miss having the activity of popping them.
It doesn’t matter how many pedicures I get, I have these unshakable, immovable calluses on my feet. These, though, are similar to the zits insofar as they give a gal a thing to do. Watching T.V., reading a book, skimming the web. In each and every scenario, such an easy thing to multi-task!
An easy thing to multi-task, though, is not an easy thing to hide. My current boyfriend and I were lounging on my couch not long ago, watching TV. I hadn’t yet told him of my callous issue, but we were lying there, and I was feeling comfortable, in my element, if you will, and instinctively reached for my feet. I began my inspection which would naturally have lead to an, ahem, indelicate removal of dead skin, when he said, “What is going on down there?”
“Nothing,” I said. “I am not tending to foot calluses, I’ll tell you that much. For I, of course, have perfect feet.”
So yes: In point of fact I have one. It’s tiny, but it’s there. And all I’m saying, dear people, is this: CONVERSATION STARTER. A third nipple is, if nothing else, a thing to have to talk about.
Sara Barron is the author of People Are Unappealing and the forthcoming Eating While Peeing: and other adventures.