“You have small breasts.”
That’s what I said to this woman, the first time she took her shirt off in front of me. She paused, looking wounded. I, on the other hand, just reached for her breasts. For me, it was simply a statement. Something I thought and said out loud. Clearly, I should have kept that statement in my head, but I’ve a bad habit of speaking before I think. And it was obvious that this young lady didn’t care for my opinion. She pulled away from me. “I’ve heard that before and I hate it.” She said, annoyance plain in her voice. “I plan to get breast implants.”
I paused, staring at her in shock. My mind instantly rejected the idea of anything foreign in her body. “You don’t need breasts implants,” I said emphatically, reaching to pull her close, “Your breasts are fine. I am okay with them.” I snuggled against her chest. “They’re perfect the way they are.”
I meant it. She had very pretty, perfectly formed breasts. They just so happened to be smaller than average. And given that she was as short as me, (5’1 and a half) and probably 120 pounds soaking wet, they really didn’t seem that out of place.
The woman placed her arms around my neck and smiled. For a moment there, I delusionally delighted in the idea that my weak plea for her breasts (which I’d just dissed) would stick. That her years of distress, caused by the likes of idiots like me, would instantly be erased because the great Shaq Diesel recanted. Oh the ego of a fool. She finally spoke.
“Well, everyone I’ve been with has been fine with them, but I’m not and I still plan to get breast implants one day.”
My heart dropped. I wanted to rewind to the moment before I spoke those foolish words and say something else. “But you don’t need…” I began desperately, hoping to continue the conversation. That didn’t happen. Instead, my words were lost in the back of my throat as she silenced me with a kiss and I pretty much forgot about the whole encounter. That is, until weeks later, after the Oscars, when blogs lit up about Kim Novak (left) and Goldie Hawn’s plastic surgery.
By this time, the young lady and I had decided not to see each other anymore. The decision had mostly been hers and I wasn’t unaware that my inability to keep my thoughts to myself had probably contributed to it. That wound was still fresh on my heart when I found myself experiencing yet another bout of sharp pains while reading about Kim and Goldie. These were GUILT pains, because as I sat there shaking my head in disgust at the ridiculous notion of beautiful actresses altering their appearance, it occurred to me that people like myself are partly to blame. People who don’t know how to keep criticisms to themselves.
How much easier it is to judge a woman for not embracing her beauty, than to talk about the fact that we live in a world that makes even the prettiest woman unpretty. After all, magazine covers across the nation feature overly Photoshopped women. Tabloids splash the most unflattering photos they can find, of some of the most beautiful celebrity women in the world, on their covers. Makeup is a billion dollar industry. Even Jennifer Love Hewitt is considered fat. And then, you have buttheads like me that think of a ton of great things to say about women, but only utter out the least flattering part.
It takes a seriously confident, totally evolved woman to enjoy her own beauty in America.
Here’s the thing: I’m not saying women don’t have the right to alter their bodies. It belongs to them. If they want to change it, it’s not my place to say a darn thing. I just really wish that women were changing their bodies simply because they liked change, instead of because they don’t feel beautiful enough.
And it wasn’t until yesterday when I was texting a friend that I realized there really is a simple fix for self love. I happened to send her a series of pictures that I looked ridiculous in. She then challenged me with a photo of herself, and while she won the contest for most ridiculous picture, I also found myself marveling at how beautiful she looked in them. I was left speechless, hesitant to say anything and uncomfortable with the attraction I was feeling. My friend pushed me for a response. I resisted and told her it was because I didn’t want to be inappropriate. Then, she texted me something that has been on my mind ever sense, a simple statement that provided me with an epiphany:
She said that she’d like to hear what I had to say if it was something that would make her feel good. And she requested that I say it in a way that was respectful.
I know it seems ridiculous that after 30 years of living, breathing and loving women on this earth, it would take a text message conversation to enlighten me that the easiest way to change a woman’s heart about her body is simply to tell her the good stuff, but that’s how it happened. What touched me about her was message was that, her request wasn’t demanding or vain, nor pathetic or insecure, but rather…an honest request for the truth. I think she just wanted to be acknowledged as pretty. Or maybe she just wanted to feel appreciated.
Clearly, I don’t know how to talk to women. But thanks to my friend, I’m learning.
And in the meantime, I plan to tell my niece how beautiful and perfectly formed she is everyday. I want her to grow up knowing that no matter her flaws, she’s amazing just the way she is. And one day, when some lucky boy or girl (that I will instantly hate on sight) has an opportunity to be intimate with her, I hope that if they’re boneheaded enough to say anything less than positive about her figure, my niece will be confident and proud enough to say, “Yeah, I know. Aren’t I awesome anyway?”
And she will be. She’ll always be awesome. Nobody has any business being close enough to touch a woman unless they know how awesome she really is, no matter how she looks.
Suffice to say, the young lady I was with deserved better. I can’t give that moment back to her, but I will make sure I never put anyone else through it. And if I ever run into her again and she’s gotten those damn breast plants, I’m going to tell her she looks amazing. Because women are amazing just the way they are.
Sing to ’em Bruno!