Would you like a curated list of everything I hate about my body? It is not a pretty list, quite literally, and would be pretty comprehensive, beginning with my super-fine hair—which refuses to grow longer than my shoulders—and ending somewhere around my bulbous little left toe that curls almost all the way under my foot and sports a discolored nail that grows into a gnarled claw.
All the time, I’m conscious of keeping my arms straight so I don’t reveal how weirdly sharp my elbows are, and sucking in my rounded stomach, even when I’m not in the company of others. Pretty much every part of my body is on the list. If you think I haven’t opened my mouth in the mirror and harshly judged my own tongue (too short, weirdly colored), you’d be wrong. But there is one body part that, strangely, I’ve never worried about: my boobs.
It’s not that I think my boobs are perfect. Objectively, I can see that I may not have the ideal rack. It’s just that unlike the rest of my weird body parts, which I worry about, curse, and try to change, I actually like my breasts, despite their flaws.
They are a good size: not-too-big, not-too-small B cups that sometimes spill over into C’s depending on the brand. Bras are not absolutely necessary, and most of the time, I can get away with a bandeau, my bra of choice. My nipples are a good color for my skin tone, as far as I can tell. But my breasts are far from perfect. They are strangely far apart. (If I’m braless, I can fit my entire palm between the girls.) They droop weirdly, as if they are trying to take shelter in my armpits, and occasionally grow black hairs.
My whole adolescence, I prayed my boobs would never get big, a hope half influenced by Roberta in Now and Then, who tapes herself down to stop her boobs from growing, and half by my high-school hero, Joey Potter of Dawson’s Creek, whose barely-there boobs made her sleeveless tops flowy, uncomplicated, and perfect for sitting wistfully on docks.
I just wanted them small, even though according to Victoria Secret ads and magazine covers they were supposed to look better bigger. I like them far apart, even though most of society says “grab a push-up bra and squish those babies together.”
But for some reason, I just don’t care what society thinks of my boobs.
Normally, I’m a slave to conventional beauty expectations. I want a flat stomach. I want long legs. I shamefully tanned at the tanning salon for years before my hypochondria about having skin cancer outweighed my desire to look like I spent every day of the year at the beach. But for some reason, I just don’t care what society thinks of my boobs. I like them they way they are. For once, something on my body looks the way I want it, a way that I specifically think is beautiful, even though it isn’t considered perfect.
Lately, I’ve noticed other women embracing their body parts that aren’t conventionally beautiful. I see photos of girls on Instagram without perfectly flat stomachs wearing crop tops, taking ownership of what it means to have a belly you can choose to expose. It’s not just that they “don’t care” if it looks bad, it’s that they like the way they look, even though it’s not the standard.
The first time I saw an Instagram photo of a woman who was doing yoga in a sports bra but didn’t have a six-pack and a spray tan, I felt a wave of relief wash over me. Folds of her stomach were rolling over the waistband of her pants, but she was just existing, not sucking in, not posing so that her waist looked smaller. It felt, in a way, that that image shouldn’t be allowed. Maybe it was because so for so long, it wasn’t.
Until recently, we weren’t really ever presented with women existing who weren’t “perfect”: We didn’t see it on TV; we didn’t see it in magazines; we didn’t see it anywhere outside of real life, where strangely, nobody we knew looked like a model but for some reason that fact never really sank in. But then there was Instagram: a platform where anyone could post photos of themselves without having to go through the airbrush-heavy sensors we’re used to.
Now, we are able to see beautiful women of all shapes, colors, sizes, and bodies confidently displaying their image. I see girls who show off their stretch marks, their cellulite, women wearing clothes that accentuate the areas of their bodies that ten years ago fashion magazines told them had to be hidden under something A-line. For so long, women have been told there’s basically only one way to look beautiful, but I find myself being envious of these women’s “imperfect” bodies just as often as I used to be jealous of models’ “perfect” bodies—so maybe that’s just not true.
So far, for me, it’s still just my boobs. Seeing other women show off the body parts they are proud of makes me hopeful I can get rid of that long list of all the things wrong with my body and just display it, but I’m not quite there yet. But if I can love my lopsided knockers, why not my wide hips or my armpit fat? Maybe one day. For now, I’m glad I can enjoy a piece of myself that I like just the way it is. But don’t worry… I won’t post my boobs on Instagram.
Lucy Huber is a writer, multiple cat owner, and sufferer of Reverse Dawson’s Creek Actor Syndrome, which is a disease she made up for when you are 30 but look 15. To see her other work or ask more specific questions about her cats, visit lucyhuber.com.