Pictured: The opposite of me.
I grew breasts in fourth grade. Overnight my puffy, pre-pubescent nipples with a light sheen turned into small mounds of flesh that begged to be painfully smashed into tight, itchy fabric prisons. I went from being the tallest, weirdest girl in the fourth grade to being the tallest, weirdest girl in the fourth grade with BIG OL’ TITTIES!!!! Suddenly boys started to pay attention to me, asking me to join them on the seesaw, play hopscotch or wrestle. In the locker room, girls crowded around me, asking to try on my DKNY bra. For the first time in my life I felt cool. I realized the sudden spike in my popularity had a direct correlation to my newly sprouted breast tissue.
I walked proudly through the playground with my chest forward. “Here we are” my breasts proclaimed through my uniform shirt. The tiny triangles begged for attention. It was incredible. Soon after my breasts arrived I found my first soft, brown pubic hair. Just one. Her name was Maureen. She was beautiful. Not too long, not too short. She was the perfect companion for my breasts. I had seen naked women in my dad’s magazines and I knew I wanted to look like them one day. Oily, tan, free of imperfection. Finally, it was happening for me, between my breasts and Maureen I knew this was it—I was becoming a woman.
Fun fact: Doug Funnie’s scalp and my 10-year-old vagina are second cousins.
As my curves began to round out other things, bad things, started to happen to my body. My hair, once thick and curly with perfect ringlets was beginning to fall out and what was left was frizzy and awkward. My “just got back from picking wildflowers in a field” flushed glow was turning into a volcanic field of pustules and grease. Hair was sprouting from my face at an alarming rate, covering the top of my lip, the bulk of my eyebrows, and the sides of my cheeks in brownish fuzz. Remember, this was 1997 BG—Before Google. I couldn’t just ask Yahoo! Answers why my body was betraying me in such a vile manner.
What the FUCK is happening to me?!
Luckily, in the beginning of fifth grade my mom noticed the light glinting off my moustache and took me for my first wax. As I sat in the aesthetician’s chair with pieces of wax stuck to my eyelashes and tears rolling down my face I realized that this was the beginning of my life as a real woman. From this point on I would be forever plucking, tweezing, sugaring, lasering, threading, needling, pinching, rolling, snipping, and stuffing various body parts in an effort to deny my body’s natural inclinations to grow shocking amounts of hair and produce revolting amounts of sebum.
I’m so sorry I popped my pimple on the beach. I will buy Dawn Detergent from now on, I promise.
Years of vicious hair removal and subscriptions to beauty centric magazines have left me feeling completely unwomanly. Throughout the years I have been taught that I am not sexy unless I have a Brazilian wax (with the butt strip thankyouverymuch), am wearing a new outfit, have on lacy lingerie, with a perfect blowout and a flawless smoky eye. I have never achieved that combination of things at one time. I would need a pit crew to help me become that woman. I prefer a natural bush, messy buns, and I put on my eye shadow with my index finger (not even my ring finger because I’m the worst at being a girl.) I am the furthest thing from sexy.
Ok, I take that back. You might be the furthest thing from sexy.
A few weeks ago, as I was putting on zit cream while wearing my TMJ retainer I thought, “who do I think is sexy? And how can I be sexier?” I have a skewed view on sexy. For me, the ultimate in sexiness is Angelica Houston. She’s confident, sure of herself, and a handsome beauty with hard features and severe hair. But I am not, and will never be Angelica Houston. So I thought about it some more. Who is typically considered sexy? How can I achieve that kind of sexiness? And then it came to me. I didn’t need to emulate other women to become sexy. I would become sexy from the inside out. And I knew just how to do it.
I signed up for my first pole dance class. I arrived to class at 7:50, eagerly taking a pole in the front of the room, in front of the mirror. Go big or go home. Or go to step aerobics. A few more girls trickled in. They were wearing booty shorts, lace bras, and skimpy tank tops with their hair down and loose. Two of the girls were wearing clear platforms. Our teacher, a dancer for the Miami HEAT, strutted into class and slinked up her pole, spinning and sliding and moving like silk in the red lights of the dance studio. She hung upside down and said, “you girls ready to learn this?”
I was born ready.
We started with a floor routine, running our hands down our bodies to the song “Pony” by Ginuwine. We learned how to sit up and crawl on the floor like a stripper. The girls around me looked incredible. They were curving their spines like cats, softly pawing around the room with their beautiful asses in my face. I was instructed to look in the mirror while I grinded on the floor. I was sweating profusely with my bun slipping to one side of my head, loose, frazzled hairs sticking up everywhere. My Marshall’s capris were riding up my knees and my oversized Penguins hockey t-shirt was drenched with sweat. I looked in the mirror and instead of seeing a seductive goddess I saw myself as an overweight Middle American soccer mom/ pastor’s wife trying to spice up her sex life. I looked unnatural and floppy in the red lights. I watched the other girls as they twirled around their poles. I quietly did my toe-to-heel stripper walk out the door.
That night when I came home I sat on the floor telling my fiancé the story of the HEAT dancer teacher who removed her pants and danced in a thong to “Waterfalls” by TLC. I told him about the middle aged Honduran woman who could do a headstand and kick off the pole with one leg. We laughed and talked and I wiped the sweat from my unibrow. It was in that moment, sitting on my crusty living room floor rug, sitting by my fiancé in his cutoff muscle tee that I realized there is nothing sexier than the comfort that comes with really being yourself. No lingerie or bikini wax can compare with the sex appeal of laughter that makes your whole face light up, radiating warmth and genuine sexiness from the inside out. In order to feel like a woman, all I had to do was make fun of my flaws and praise the victories of a small Honduran woman while sitting in a hockey jersey, covered in sexy, sexy sweat.by