So there's this one time, and I can't believe I haven't shared this with you already, that I decided I was going to have a tummy tuck. It was just a couple of years ago, but it's something I've thought A LOT about over the past 5 years or so. Blogging about my most personal experiences, dilemmas, challenges, and achievements helps me sort through my own feelings and ride them out with raw honesty and an open-mind. I tell you this story for myself; and hope that is resonates with at least one other person.
I should probably back up and tell you why this all came back to me. I happen to have a very large and passionate interest in human sexuality (and everything about people and the human body that we don't get to learn enough about in school). So, I read a lot of research papers, articles, blogs, etc and I watch a lot of documentaries. About a week ago, I watched a documentary about the shame and secrecy behind intersex births called Intersexion, which I highly recommend. I was fascinated by the stories I heard and felt that I could relate to many of these individuals. Often they used words like "wrong" and "disgusting" when they talked about how others viewed their bodies. The narrator mentioned that when an intersex child is birthed, the standard procedure is to "fix it, shame it, and hide it." That is exactly how I used to (and sometimes, but very rarely, still do) feel about my own body. But, in order for that to be the proper procedure, it would mean something would have to be WRONG in the first place. And there is nothing wrong with my body.
I've gone back and forth with wanting the surgery, then not wanting it, thinking it was an absolute must, to thinking it was the worse idea in the world. I've felt excited, scared, guilty, ashamed, happy, relieved, anxious, angry, wrong, and happy about the idea of not having loose skin on my body. Yeah, ALL of those feelings. But the one thing I never felt was RIGHT...it just never felt right.
But, that one time, when it was feeling like a really good decision, I got as close as scheduling a consultation with a plastic surgeon. Mind you, I've done a lot of research about this procedure (get the gist yourself here.) And, I've researched doctors like crazy too. I've watched videos, read blogs and visited forums all about the joys of having a flat, tight, tummy. And, I wanted that joy. Even though the thought of voluntarily and surgically removing a section of my body made me ill.
So, I submitted my info online for a consultation with a surgeon in Alameda. Within a few hours, I got a call from his office and the person on the other end wanted to confirm my appointment with me. She proceeded to tell me about the procedure from consultation to recovery and even though I already knew EVERYTHING she was talking about, when it was discussed within the context of ME, I suddenly freaked the fuck out. I kept thinking, "What the hell are you doing? This isn't what you want!" But then I argued with myself as she continued with the timeline of events..."Oh you're just being cheap, you do want this, you just don't want to pay for it! Imagine what you'll look like when it's done and you're all healed up, it's a small price to pay! Wait, what the hell?! You're seriously OPTING in to having someone put you under and cut into your body for no good reason? You're not ill, you're not trying to prevent illness, this is totally ridiculous!"
So, I thanked her for her time, apologized, and asked her to cancel my appointment. I just could not imagine myself going through with it. I didn't want to pay $6,000, that is certainly true. But I also didn't want to be put under. I didn't want to not be able to stand fully upright for weeks. I didn't want to be in pain. I didn't want a fake belly button. I didn't want to put my life on hold. Not for the sake of vanity, at least. And it was then that I realized that having this procedure would go against everything I believed in about myself, my life, and my body. It would go against everything I teach others and work so hard to help them believe. But you know what, that's not even what mattered most to me. I give myself permission to change my mind, to change what I believe, to challenge myself in different ways, to do things I wouldn't normally do, to be different versions of myself. I do. I think that's what makes me the person I am, a self-loving mystical beast. I know no limits when it comes to personal growth and change. I'm all about it. What mattered most to me was that it just. never. felt. right.
And so, after all of that was said and done, that's the only conclusion I could come to that made sense to me. And it helped me understand why so many others opt to have these procedures done. Because it felt right for them. Cosmetic surgery is such a personal thing. There truly is no right or wrong answer. It's a means to an end and some of us use it, while others do not. I chose not to. Will I change my mind later and decide to go for it? It's highly unlikely but I guess it's possible...
But for now I am super glad I decided not to do it. Since that day, I've literally changed and shaped my body in ways I never thought possible (see photo timeline below). And it feels amazing to know that all I used was my own power, heart, determination, and commitment. I feel like my body reflects who I am on the inside, and never in my life was I able to say that until now. I'm strong, nonconforming, present, and beautiful both inside and out...naked and clothed. And THAT, feels right!
P.S. I used to think of my loose skin and stretch marks as sort of "battle wounds" of the body...little snippets of physical evidence of my journey. But, what's funny is that the more comfortable I get with my new body, and the more I accept it as perfect and beautiful exactly how it is, the less I differentiate each part. I am WHOLE, no longer broken.