Archive for the ‘body talk’ Category

Requiem For A Boob

May 28, 2009

When I was a kid, my mom used to joke about her boobs. “They’re tube socks!” she’d hoot. “I have to roll them up to get them in my bra.”

I would cringe and recoil. “Mom,” I’d hiss. “You’re embarrassing me.”

“Why are you so red, honey?”

“Because you’re embarrassing me.”

“I’m just talking about tube socks.”

“You’re talking about your boobs.”

“Sweetie, my boobs are tube socks because I bore and birthed you and your sister, so if hearing about it embarrasses you, well, tough.”

Then she’d cross her eyes and stick out her tongue at me. I’d run to my room at that point and discreetly peer down the front of my shirt and wonder whether I’d ever have any kind boobs, let alone the tube sock kind. Although I’d have preferred not the tube sock kind, at that point in my adolescence I’d have been happy with just about anything.

Ah, the deluded innocence of youth.

I grew boobs, eventually. They were never all that impressive – I was always skinny, with the type of cleavage that, in nature, attends skinny bodies – but they were there, and they were kind of cute. Perky. The kind of breasts that you never called tits or gazongas or hooters or even just boobs. You referred to them to them in the diminutive – boobies – or in the unsexed abstract – chest. So it was that when I got pregnant and, later, began lactating and those puppies grew – like, seriously, epically grew, like frightened puffer fish – I was both alarmed and thrilled. I had hooters. I had gazongas. I had BOOBS.

For a few uncomfortable but nonetheless thrilling years, I had a rack, and it was spectacular.

And now it’s gone.

Gone, disappeared, deflated, defunct. It’s as if, after watching me wean Jasper and my husband get his parts snipped, Nature herself gave my body the once-over and said well, you won’t be needing those any more, will you? and unceremoniously removed them from my person.

They’re gone now, and I miss them. I miss them, not only because they really were kind of epic – and what girl doesn’t fantasize, occasionally, secretly, about what it would be like to have epic boobs? – but because Nature, in all of her douchey wisdom, did not restore my chest to its modest but nonetheless entirely presentable profile. Nature, being the stone-cold bitch-goddess that she is (the very same one who gave us menstrual cycles and the pain of childbirth and the indignity of random chin hairs), turned my boobs into tube socks. Just like my mother’s.

Except smaller. Small tube socks. The tube socks of an adolescent boy with irregularly-sized feet. Because, yes, one is actually – oh, god – smaller than the other.

Which is why, when I found myself, yesterday, in the fitting room of the lingerie department, desperately trying to find a bra into which my breasts would not just disappear like a pathetic wad of crumpled tissue, I lasted all of three minutes before bursting into tears.

It’s not that I want – what are the kids calling it these days? – a bangin’ bod. I’d be happy with a bod that just pinged a little. I just want to not to not look in the mirror and cringe. Which I know goes against everything that I said a few months ago, but a few months ago I had boobs. Muffin-tops and extra ass-padding are one thing when you have the upper curves to balance everything out. They’re quite another when your upper body looks like a deflated pool toy.

I’m straining to accept this new incarnation of me, to learn to love it as I’ve learned to love all the other incarnations. But I am finding, now, as summer approaches and I wrap my head and heart around the fact (is it fact? is it? I am still struggling with this) that I will have no more children, that I am still, in my way, vain, and that I want my beauty back. Maybe not the same beauty, the same body, the same sweet boobs of youth, but something, anything, that makes me swell with just a little bit of pride when I look in the mirror.

Or maybe just a tit-inflater. Anybody got one of those?

Truthiness In Muffin-Top Portraiture

March 4, 2009

You’re going to have to see my previous post for context – or to comment, if you have anything to say, anything at all, about the Glory Of The Previously Only Seen In Soft-Focus Muffin Top – because I’m only going to say this, and I want it to stand alone as my affirmation – my own affirmation, to myself – of my acceptance of my soft, fleshy, beautiful self: this is my belly. It gave life to my children. It turns on my husband. It digests cupcakes. It could be firmer, it could be trimmer, it could fit more neatly into a pair of skinny jeans, but who cares? It is my belly.

And I like it.

(I dare you to post yours. You can do so anonymously at The Belly Project, but if you dare to do it at your own blog, or on Flickr – I even set up a Flickr group, if you’re interested – or somewhere a little less anonymous – somewhere where you say hell YEAH this is me, I’d love to know. Send me an e-mail or leave a comment on the previous, less-brave post where, yes, I am taking compliments on my skills with soft-focus photography.)

What Does A Body Good

March 3, 2009

This is me, nine and half months post-partum:

In which I reveal my muffin-top, my inability to properly clean mirrors, and the fact that my personal trainer is a Siamese cat.

I’m okay with how I look. Sort of. I think. Some days are better than others. Some days, I look down at the plush landscape of my body – the belly with its rippled hillocks, the mountainous breasts under snowy swaths of cotton – and I think, well, it’s a mother’s body. It’s a new mother’s body. It’s the body of a nursing mother, a mother who is run ragged by a preschooler and has no time or energy for focused exercise, a mother who has learned the hard and disappointing way that preschooler-wrangling and baby-hoisting do not, contrary to expectation, tone the muscles. It’s the body of a mother who is in her thirties, and who does not have personal trainers or dietitians on call. It’s not the body of Gwyneth Paltrow, dammit. Wanna make something of it?

Some days, I am accepting of my body; some days, I get defensive. Some days, the line between forgiving myself for not having the body that I had four years ago and berating myself for same gets blurred beyond recognition, for the simple reason that the very idea of needing to ask forgiveness of myself for something that is in no wise a wrongdoing confounds any effort on my part to accept myself, my body, as good. (The very idea is toxic, is it not? That I have transgressed myself for allowing my body to become matronly, for having put my energies into nourishing my baby and raising my little girl instead of shredding my body back to pre-maternal form? That I need to forgive myself for something that I should celebrate, something for which I – I believe this, I do – deserve praise?) I need to move past this idea that the reality of my body is something that I need to explain/justify/forgive. I need to allow myself to just be the physical being that I am – lumpy, imperfect. And to do that I need, maybe, to find ways of thinking and speaking (and writing) about myself that are a little less accusatory (lumpy, imperfect) and a little more celebratory (soft, strong, life-giving, perfectly suited to nourishing babies and cradling children.)

(I have a nearly perfect sense-memory, from childhood, of my own mother’s body: the soft curve of flesh on her back, between her breast and her shoulder blade, just under her upper arm, where my hand would rest when I snuggled against her, and the plush pillow of her belly, where I would sometimes rest my head, and the sweet-smelling skin – part Diorissimo, part flour-and-sugar, part soap – at the back of her neck, where I would bury my face to sob over some childish disaster or another, or to rest, or just to feel at peace. It was always soft and fragrant and reassuring – there were no hard edges, no unyielding surfaces – and it enveloped me and comforted me. It still does, when I think of it, of her. I want my children to remember me this way – as a space/place/body of comfort and safety and love.)

And yet… I do want this body, my body, to be my own. I want to return, in some significant way, to the relationship that I had with my body when it was all mine, when I regarded it selfishly and proudly, when I vainly primped it and polished it and when I casually disregarded it and – yes, sometimes – misused and abused it. (The days of subjecting it to diet Coke and cigarettes and all-night clubbing and all the petty and not-so-petty abuses that all-night clubbing entails are long behind me – thank god – but I do long, sometimes, to not pass on that third glass of wine, to not put my body’s status as a life-giving, child-nurturing organism first in any consideration of whether to drink more or stay up later or have that fourth espresso.)

So here I am, stuck between wanting to love my body as it is, and wanting to change it, and it’s so tempting to throw my hands in the air and wander off in search of another cupcake, or, alternatively, to berate myself for wanting the cupcake and then to drop to the floor and do two or three sit-ups before deciding that it’s not worth the effort and getting up and looking for that cupcake anyway, after which I will just feel alternately guilty and self-satisfied. And this is the problem, right? That however much I love my body the way that it is, there’s still that part of me that wants to love it more. Rightly or wrongly, I want more from my body – not for my children, not for my husband, not for my shred-happy friends (who I enthusiastically support, by the way) – but for me. Just for me.

Which, translated into a course of action, means this: a cupcake, some coffee and some gentle Sun Salutations. And then, maybe, when it gets warmer, a run around the block, or a bike-ride with my girl. And if I ever get around to shredding, great, but if not? I’ll just enjoy the fact that my belly is soft, comforting place on which tired little heads can rest. I’ll just celebrate being strong and soft. And then I’ll have another cupcake.