apologizing for your body

He reaches up, his fingers curling around my hips as we move, along my waist, up my sides. His fingers close over my breasts, and in the middle of everything, after he has maybe told me that I am beautiful, after he has demonstrated with his hands and his mouth and his lips that everything about my body may very well be everything he has ever wanted in a woman, after he has shown me that all he has wanted these long moments in bed is my body, that all my skin and flesh does is bring him happiness, and satisfaction, in the middle of all this, I want to apologize. I want to say I’m sorry about my breasts. I don’t think they’re good enough–large enough, really–and how can you think they’re good enough?

Sometimes I can shake it off, usually by shaking off his hands in some ingenious way. Leaning down, leaning back, switching positions, distracting him with the parts of my body that might be acceptable. Sometimes, everything stutters to a halt. Everything comes crashing down into this one fatal flaw of mine, this one particular blemish–that having small breasts should be considered a blemish is, in my rational moments, an astonishing thing. They fit my frame, my body size. They suit me. They are perky, adorable. They are perfectly reasonable. They are, in a dark place in my head, not only not good enough for me, they’re not good enough for my boyfriend no matter what he says or how he demonstrates his actual admiration, and I want to say I’m sorry.

I’ve had moments of self-consciousness in bed before. Everyone has, of course–when you want to cover up, hide, have sex with your shirt on and maybe also your pants and a down jacket and a hat pulled down to your chin. It’s an uncomfortable feeling, a terrible feeling, to be so uncomfortable in your own skin that you cannot relax and do not want to be naked, vulnerable, to touch and be touched. It’s a common thing, a perfectly ordinary thing, something that is hard to overcome, but is overcome-able.

But to feel you have to apologize–that is when things get tricky. That is the slippery slope, and that is the short trip down into hell that you need to stop yourself from ever taking. When you apologize, you are saying “I am sorry for the wrong that I did.” When you are apologizing for your body, you’re saying “I am sorry that my body is wrong.” I’m sorry my body does not match the crazy ideal that sits in the back of my head and pokes at me with sticks and tells me that I am not good enough. I am sorry that I do  not meet an imaginary, completely insane standard. I’m sorry that I’m not good enough. Apologizing for your body is accepting the idea that there is a right body, and that you do not have it, and even admitting the possibility that you never will. Apologizing for your body is wrong, because that is, frankly, bullshit. Your body is not wrong.

My breasts are not wrong-sized–they’re the size breasts I have. I have entertained the idea of breast implants, to fix them, to make them correct and proper and right, but the more I think about it, the more the idea seems like a larger, expensive apology. I am not going to apologize any more. You don’t apologize when there’s nothing to apologize for.

4 Replies to “apologizing for your body”

  1. I’ve been married almost ten years and still feel this way most of the time. In fact just last night I said, “The light is too bright!” before commencing doin’ it. It was a damn nightlight.

  2. Hah. Word to the small boobs thing. It used to kill me. But I started by reminding myself that no boy has ever said to me, “M., your breasts are just too small, so this relationship is over.” Also, my bf periodically walks up to me and honks them (in private). Like if I’m doing hw, we’re sitting in the car, washing dishes, etc. he’ll give them a squeeze, say ‘honk honk,’ giggle like an idiot, and go about his business. I used to get embarrassed, so he informed me that having a pair of boobs at his disposal was one of the perks of having a gf. I laughed and got over it with minor relapses of embarrassment. Maybe you and E. should try this casual booby-honking? :) Everyone wins, after all.

    (I’m so sorry Elastic Waist will be no more! But it’s nice to know you’ll maintain a presence on the interwebs…)

  3. Oh, he honks, and gropes and grabs and makes me feel like a piece of delicious, delicious meat. But you know, your mantra’s a good one. And I’ll get to believing it.

  4. It is so hard sometimes to poke back at that crazy, fabricated body-ideal that resides in all of our brains and makes us believe carbs are the devil and broad hips a curse and small boobs utterly inadequate. But, as you say, there is no “wrong” body. There just isn’t. All bodies are right, and shaped as they are for important biological reasons we may never fully understand.

    Now, if I could just FEEL that instead of merely thinking it …

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