"This is the year I get breast implants," I told my friends as I turned 31. I was in a slump. My semi-serious relationship had ended, my graduate degree wasn't making me rich and my always reliable metabolism had finally slowed down enough for me to gain a few unwanted pounds. I was mildly depressed in a circumstantial, not chemical way. I got it into my head that giant knockers would fix everything.
I'd always been disappointed in my breasts. I came of age in the '80s, when stacked supermodels like Claudia Schiffer and Elle Macpherson reigned, and I felt like a boy by comparison. Our movies were full of gratuitous nudity, which only reminded me that I'd never fill out Phoebe Cates' bikini in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" or Jamie Lee Curtis' hooker halter top in "Trading Places." Instead of jugs, I had tea cups. Instead of sweater puppies, I had hamsters.
When I was happy, I forgot to hate my body, but whenever I was feeling blue, my insecurities would flare. Since I wasn't sure how to solve any of my real problems (unreliable men, soul-crushing work, general malaise), I fixated on the superficial. If I had an impressive rack, I thought, it would be easier to feel good about myself. Breast augmentation seemed like the answer to everything.
My body makes miracles. It deserves to be revered. And thanked. And occasionally forced to exercise.
I can't tell you how happy I am that I never went through with it. Because here's what happened instead: I got better jobs. I traveled. I fell in love. And then I carried, birthed and nursed two infants. The breasts I had never appreciated—had in fact contemplated slicing open and stuffing with silicone—turned out to be rock stars, the sole source of nourishment for helpless babies.
How could I have ever thought they were any less than awesome? It took pregnancy and breastfeeding for me to finally understand that my body was not something to be picked apart and disparaged. My body makes miracles. It deserves to be revered. And thanked. And occasionally forced to exercise.
Just in case I wasn't clear on this point, while I was making babies, three of my close friends had bilateral mastectomies, because that "1 in 8" statistic is a bitch. And then not only was I grateful for my breasts but also ashamed for wasting so much time angsting about something so stupid, especially when life is way too short and fragile.
Nowadays, even though I'm still slowly shedding baby weight, I find it's easier to be kind to myself, to love my body for all it has given to me and my children and to resist the societal pressure to be someone else's definition of perfect.
I hope I can help my daughters learn to love their bodies a little sooner than I did. Unfortunately, this is not necessarily wisdom one can impart to a 15-year-old girl while she stuffs her bra. I think you gotta learn this stuff in real time.