It is difficult for me to remember what my body was like before I developed into the voluptuous woman I am today. It was as though one evening I possessed the limber body of a child and the next morning I awoke as a busty woman. I was nine when after attempting a back-handspring I toppled one of the spotters in my after-school gymnastics class. I overheard her say to my mother that she couldn’t ‘manage’ a child of my size. At 5’9”, 150 lbs. and a burgeoning D-cup— my plans of becoming the star gymnast in the Cirque du Soleil were soiled forever.
In the 5th grade I got into kickball. On the field I felt I could act my age. That is until the ball went flat during P.E. class. “Hey Coach…The ball’s flat!” I yelled as I tossed him the ball. He looked at the deflated, dusty red ball and then looked at me. “You’re not flat, but the ball is!” He smiled. I excused myself. As I ran off, the kids yelled after me “boing, boing, boing.”
By high school, I felt larger than life. I decided I wanted to be an actress. But in the musicals I was consistently cast as the sex-pot or the bimbo, or a healthy combination of both. When I started at UCLA in the Fall of 1997 I still wanted to act, only it seemed I was too curvy for agencies. I literally never fit the part. Fed up with the Hollywood scene after college I moved to Italy to work in fashion. In Italy, the objectification of my body seemed cultural. I got so used to inappropriate comments by co-workers, bosses and strangers that by the end of my seven year sojourn, it all seemed normal.
A year ago I relocated to NYC. A sore back brought me to a doctor. I sat on the edge of the doctor’s bench, feet dangling, inside the light blue gown and felt relieved to be back in the States. I hadn’t had an English-speaking doctor in seven years. He stood before me, staring at my breasts, and than began to touch them through the opening in the gown. Still looking at them he cocked his head to the side and asked “have you ever considered breast-reduction surgery? Because you have very large breasts.”
I welled up.
Would changing my body make people take me more seriously? Would I be athletic again? Could I wear a V-neck shirt without feeling over-the-top? Could I be cast in a play as a woman with brains?
When I got home that evening I tossed out the all of the cellulite creams, breast-reducing bras and spanks in my armoire.
At a friend’s suggestion, I started to practice yoga for my bad back, which, by the way, is not bad because of the weight of my breasts, but because of the hunched posture that I’ve imposed on myself ever since that fifth-grade kickball game. As I pretzel myself into all kinds of unlikely positions I begin to feel a connection. My breasts and hips begin to feel like part of me, not an accessory, or an alien creature or something to hide, reduce or change. It’s taken some work but finally I believe that I can do cartwheels and kick balls around all I want. It has taken some time for my mind to catch up with my body, but finally, I believe that I am woman. So hear me roar, and watch me boing.
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