Thursday, March 10, 2011

Good Enough? Well that's just like... your opinion, man.

I was born to be a lot of things... a writer, maybe... an inventor, probably... but mostly, normal. My parents and grandparents did a fine job of indocrinating me in a lifestyle and religion that would steer me toward right for the rest of my days.

Part of this legacy was to be modest in my appearance. Beautiful women stun the world with their intellect and insight, not their tan and cleavage. Beautiful women were strong and honest, not faint or bold, like 40's actresses.

So it makes sense that I would eventually meet some conflict with the inner beauty and the incogruence outside. Most women, in fact, endure this body image struggle... where the inside looks nothing like the outside and you can't understand how the two are related. Sometimes this ends up in painful experiences like anorexia and bulemia. As heartbreaking as these conditions are, I can understand the underlying problem. You look in the mirror and don't feel like the image looking back could possibly be you... well, unfortunately it has to be. So then what?

What happens to the part of womankind who looks in that mirror and disagrees? I think the majority of them just agree anyway... and accept what stares back at them as an uncomfortable reality, afforded by a perspective they can't get to from their current perch. Another portion runs screaming into destructive behaviour, trying to change what they see with eating disorders, drugs and alcohol. Another few try a new hobby or wardrobe, hoping they can try on another style to feel more at home in their skin.

And then there are those like me...

I have known since I was a skinny little kid that I wanted a different body. I dreamed of looking like everyone else. Blending in, making no impression at all. Instead, I was too thin, compounded by smoking, so much that my friends still tell me they wanted me to eat a cheeseburger 10 years ago. I look back on those days fondly, but not because I was younger or thinner, but because I was oblivious to the discord between by body and my body image. After I quit smoking cigarettes and got married (two blissful experiences in my life), I put on weight. And grew further from whatever I thought was normal before.

I don't think I'm fat, I don't think I'm out of the ordinary, in fact.. I have attained my goal.. average height, average weight and better than average personal life. But I can't go to the store and buy a size 8. All the changing I did to get there, and all I get is a well-fitting behind and too-big top.

I wanted a 'boob job' since the day I thought I had boobs... I can remember thinking that I was different then and wanting so badly to belong. Now, as a full-fledged woman, complete with uncomfortable jeans and slimming undergarments, I still want to have proportional problems, big boobs and big hips, curves, something besides a skinny girl with some extra weight.

It goes deeper, I'm sure... I was raised in a religious household, and have restrained myself - always - when it comes to my appearance. I have always wanted very badly to have nice breasts through breast augmentation. I have a genetic disorder called pectus carinatum, which almost always affects men, one in 300,000 live births are female and afflicted. Despite having it 'repaired' using drastic invasive surgery 6 years ago, my breasts are very uneven and disproportionately small for my frame.

Bart and I have talked about a breast augmentation, what it would cost, what it would mean in terms of healing and consequences, but this whole time, I have kept back from him the reason I haven't done it yet.

It's not financial, there are plenty of financing options, and it can't be social, no one in my circle judges plastic surgery with a negative eye. The reason I haven't done it, is because having a perfect chest will require a certain confidence to accompany my new body, and I am sure I don't have it just yet.

Perhaps I'm holding myself to a ridiculous standard, that I have to be able to defend plastic surgery at this phase in my life. That it means something, I'm promiscuous, or desperate.. unhappy or having a control moment... When the reality is, if it happens, it is entirely to make me feel better about myself. It should be perfect reason, everyone deserves to buy a bra at a department store or wear it comfortably, but for some reason, it's still not good enough for me. The vanity that is associated with wanting to be beautiful outside, is something few women admit to. And I do admit it... I want to be Marilyn Monroe, or Katy Perry, especially Helena Bonham Carter. And they all are beautiful because they exude confidence. They wear their confidence outside.

I've struggled with body image for a long time, in the opposite of most struggles... and what I realize is that it doesn't matter if you're too fat or too thin, too top-heavy or too bottom-heavy. Our pain is a suit we put on each day. We carry our differences like they are a burden. If I were to counsel a young woman with body image issues now, I would tell her to love her unique self and worry about what she can change later...

And for that reason, I wait. I wait to buy my boobs, and the resulting confidence and new set of problems. What if there is no solution to looking in the mirror and not recognizing the face that looks back? Isn't there a bigger problem that I should solve before I drop $5000 on a perfect rack? Or am I being too hard on something that is perfectly normal to want.. equal boobs in proportion to my curves. I just can't help but think I'm too old for this...

I wait. For the later that all little girls are promised. Someday soon, dear, you will be a beautiful swan... you'll be desired and successful and all your dreams will come true. Reality, evidently, looks more like me. A troupe of women told to value modesty from people they trust, and told to covet beautiful bodies by everyone else. Who to believe?

Well, life is all about choices. I either distance myself from pain with new boobs, or wear it around everyday as a reminder that I'm "unique". Taking my own advice is hard.

I feel like I wear body image issues pinned to every piece of clothing I own, don't even have a mirror in my makeup bag and avoid talking about this to anyone, and I'm not alone. I want to try harder, to appreciate many different shades of perfect and find myself in one of them, but eventually, I'm pretty sure I'll pull the trigger and buy some boobs. They might help, but I promise to never tell my niece about them so she can grow up thinking there isn't a way to buy self-acceptance.

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