I wish I could say I discovered something was wrong while making out with a high school dreamboat in the back of a Jeep Wrangler. But realistically, I was just absent mindedly performing a breast exam. Why? Because I was a wildly unpopular high schooler who’d just nailed down her first college boyfriend. You know that scene in 40 Year Old Virgin where he describes boobs as feeling like a bag of sand? I was at that level of self discovery.
And then I felt it. My first reaction was “Holy crap, I dislocated a rib?” Then my 16 years of formal education funneled through and I realized that ribs probably didn’t dislocate themselves into tiny balls of mass. Right at the center of my rib cage was a small mass, roughly the size of a marble, that moved around freely.
I realized that this wasn’t normal and I did what any 22-year-old adult does. I cried. Hysterically. And in the most snot-exploding, pathetic way. You’re not supposed to find something weird when you’re 22. And in my head, I didn’t care what it was. I just knew that something was wrong. I’d always been a petite girl and with that predisposition comes preportionately small breasts. (I always adopted that as the source of my unpopularity, while more accurately it was probably taking about eight years to grow into my face and a strong affinity for playing with neopets and listening to Taking Back Sunday.) At any rate, finding something wrong was yet another pitfall in self image. You’re supposed to be 45 when you start shoving your boobs into mamogram machines. As stupid as it sounds, I’d always assumed that the one upside of having smaller figure was that there wasn’t enough room for anything to go wrong. I was an optimistic B-cup at best. How was there possibly room for cysts when I was struggling to hold up a strapless bra? I HATED my stupid, stupid boobs.
The next few weeks passed really quickly. Breast exams and ultrasounds confirmed that it was, in fact, a tumor and not a mythical dislocated rib-bit. They scheduled me for surgery and my surgeon promised me a 1/4 inch scar at most. My suregon was a liar. I left the operation with a thick, inch-long raised scar. I spent the first few days horribly embarrassed. Now, not only was I a comparatively small-breasted girl, I was a small-breasted girl with a giant 3-D flaw. I felt furious and wounded and jilted by life. I withdrew into myself and spent my recovery sulking on the couch.
And then something awesome happened. I got the results-the tumor was benign. It was only then that I finally realized what the hell this entire experience had meant and how preposterously vain my concerns had been. Here I was having tantrums about cosmetics when a far more difficult fate was on the line. Simply put: My boobs were not stupid, I was.
And so, I had a party. I called it “Tits and Tacos” and invited all my friends over to celebrate health, happiness and my ability to cook mediocre Mexican food. Life is short and often wasted worrying about the wrong things.
My message to anyone who’s been on the lady parts low self-esteem train is this: Health is important. Being able to gently throw a breast over your shoulder is not.
Marina Cockenberg, Internet User