Bushes and How We Style Them

When I was 16, I drove my friend to her appointment in a strip mall to get a Brazilian wax. The only body hair I’d ever waxed were my eyebrows, sometimes my mustache. Nonetheless, I went for moral support and because she only had a learners permit and couldn’t drive herself. 

I sat in the entrance of the salon and she was shown back to a curtained room. I studied all of the creams, serums, and products I had never heard of or used before. What is a female douche?

Everything was pale pink or purple and sterile looking. But the lady at the reception table was nice and the place smelled good so I sat there and waited. Some 10 minutes later my friend limped out of the room and paid for her wax. Once in the comfort of my car she said It fucking hurts, but it’s so smooth. It’s worth it.  

The tedious efforts of maintaining standards, styles, and fads of pubic hair is not only the modern woman/womxn/person with a bush’s dilemma — pubes have been styled, removed, flaunted and hidden many different ways throughout history. To look at the history of bush trends, we also have to highlight some events, inventions, people, and culture that shaped our hedges.

The history of female grooming began in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, where copper razors found dating back to ancient times. Commonly, women in Egypt removed pubes with pumice stones and women in Turkey used a method called sugaring: a natural removal using hot sugar and lemon juice. Other methods were far more painful and dangerous.

The ancient Greeks were obsessed with pure and immortal bodies which is why all of their nude depictions of Gods via sculptures were hairless. Men and women of the time were influenced by this and therefore removed their own, mortal body hair. Literal statues were setting beauty standards. The western world followed suit, art wise, depicting nude men and women without pubic hair. 

In 1450s Europe, women would shave their pubes for hygienic reasons — pubic lice was popping off so they removed their hair, but still preferred not to be bald. This trend birthed the Merkin, a wig for your pubes. Sex workers were also known to wear these to cover up signs of STIs like syphilis. 

The next revolution of female body hair removal came in 1915, when Gillette released the first women’s razor, though it was advertised for shaving leg and underarm hair. Women’s grooming through shaving was now in the public consciousness. Then World War II brought a nylon shortage in the US; women could no longer use pantyhose to conceal their leg hair — shaving was in.

Shortly there after in 1946, the bikini was invented. So women started shaving or tweezing their “bikini lines” to go to the beach.

As time progressed and trends in fashion changed, so did the hair on women’s bodies. The 1960’s brought the mini skirt; as hem lines hiked, women were expected to shave their upper thigh among other places.

Fastforward to the counter cultural free love and women’s movement of the late 60s and 70s — women embrace the notion that they could do whatever they wanted with their bodies, including sporting natural body hair. In fact, doing so became sexy. Sex symbols had full bushes and luscious armpit hair, rather then the manicured and conformist hair line down there. They were so popular that a thick bush earned the nickname of “70s bush.”

Despite the widespread popularity of this trend, something was bubbling underneath of cultural surface. In 1974, the first hairless vagina or “pink shot” was shown in Hustlers magazine.

Porn magazines like Playboy and Penthouse competed with one another for who could show the most revealing and exotic images. Researchers at George Washington University studied Playboy’s representation of genitalia beginning in 1953 — through the 70s and 80s, more than 95% of centerfolds and naked models had full, natural appearing pubes. 

But as the way we viewed porn became more voyeuristic, people didn’t have to stash their magazines under their beds, they could tune in on their computers… by the 1990s, more than ⅓ of models in Playboy had removed some of their hair. Now, less than 10% of nude models sport the full pubic bush. 

Men and women’s standards of what women should look like were affected by this. Many took to razors to shape their hair — during the 80s and 90s, landing strips were common. However, not everyone agreed.

Eve Ensler’s play, The Vagina Monologues, published in 1994, argued that removing pubic hair to please a sexual partner was silly at best, inhumane at worst — why would you want to look prepubescent?

In 1987, a skincare specialist in Manhattan from eastern Brazil named Janea Padilha began offering a signature service. Inspired while lounging on the beach sunbathing, she saw a woman walk by with her pubic hair protruding out of her bikini bottoms. She was struck by an epiphany — why not just wax it all off? The Brazilian was born. 

Janea and her six sisters opened their own salon called the J Sisters Salon, however, their signature service would remain latent in culture for about 13 years, until something happened.

In 2000, the popular TV show Sex and the City was enjoying its third season. In episode fourteen, Carrie goes to get a bikini wax — a wax removing the pubic hair on the sides of your bikini line. She’s shocked when the waxer gives her a Brazilian, leaving her completely hairless for the first time ever. She’s uncomfortable at first but the sexual confidence she gains from the wax leaves her radiating and ambitious. Arguably overnight, America had a new standard. While everyone had HBO or subscribed to SATC’s standards, but the show’s influence on women is undeniable — completely hairless was in. 

Celebrities of the early 2000s reinforced this trend by being wildly outspoken about their waxed parts — models Naomi Campbell and Eva Longoria famously waxed. A Salon article in 1999 noted the rapid increase of celebrity photos decorating the walls of the J Sisters establishment. “You changed by life!” Gwyneth Paltrow wrote. Victoria Beckham announced that she thought Brazilian waxes should be compulsory by the age 15. Kim Kardashian bragged to People Magazine in 2010 that her entire body is hairless. The beauty standard was set, being backed up by celebrities. 

Early 2000s fashion triggers a flashback memory of terrifyingly low jeans and odd styles — clothes were smaller than ever. Underwear and bathing suits were skimpier than ever. Digital and video pron featured almost exclusively hairless women and a bush had become a niche fetish. Laser hair removal was more available than ever and so were the number of salons where you could get a Brazilian wax. We were on the cultural precipice of the bald vag, and it seemed here to stay. 

And just when the U.S. was ready to declare the bush dead, American Apparel mannequins sported bushes in window sills in 2014. Gaby Hoffman sported her full bush in an episode of HBO’s Girls. Ilana Glazer also had a bush in an episode of Broad City, though it was partially censored due to cable TV guidelines.

Where are we now?

In 2018, Vogue published the headline “The Full Bush Is The New Brazilian!” According to NY Mag/The Cutas of 2016 an estimated 84% of American women reportedly engaged in some form of public grooming, including but not limited to waxing, trimming, shaving, tweezing, threading, lasers, and hair melting chemicals.

With the rise of a new wave of feminism, ideas around female beauty standards are changing, and we have begun to talk about antiquated or oppressive standards. Talking about bush styles used to be more taboo, we are having more conversations about our pubes. The attitudes around women’s bodies are changing — we’re reaching a point in culture and feminism, where women are questioning antiquated beauty standards. We are working our way towards celebrating all kinds of bodies, ones with bushes, landing strips, or bare, the attitude seems to be shifting to “each their own.”

Politically charged and inspired women have developed ownership of their bodies: shave or don’t or have a landing strip or write your name. Just don’t shove a ‘standard’ down our throats.

Paz Stark, owner of Stark Waxing Studio, told Voguethat cultural moments do have an impact on women’s preferences, “Ladies are saying, ‘I do want a cleanup, but I want it to be fuller and more natural feeling.’ I feel like Brazilians are 100% here to stay, it’s just on people’s own terms now.” 

 

Art by Travis Swinford.

 

 

An Audience with the Dildo Duchess, Zoë Ligon

 

RoleModel is an interview series highlighting badass individuals. 

 

Zoë Ligon is changing the world one dildo at a time. 

For those who don’t know, Zoë is the CEO of Spectrum Boutique, an inclusive, online sex-positive adult toy store operated out of Detroit. In addition to being a businesswoman, writer, and sexual educator — she also hosts a podcast called Hot Brain, in which she discusses everything from sex to memes to intimacy.

Whether you know her as Zoë, the dildo duchesss, or @thongria, there is no denying that she’s a renaissance woman. Zoë’s shop is online so we decided to chat with her — online. The following is a transcript of our conversation. 

 

Where did the name Thongria come from?

I used to be a moderator for OkCupid in 2014. Essentially, I reviewed user reports as well as flagged content and made decisions on who stays and who gets banned. I came across an account that was clearly a scammer, but before I slapped ’em with a ban, I noticed their username was “Thongria” — and thought it was cute.

Soon after, my original instagram account @poopexplosion was banned from Instagram because… dildos. When I needed a new name, I thought, thongria! [@Poopexplosion] had about 1,000 followers and was by no means visible on social media, so I had no idea that it would literally become known as “me” as time went on.

Recently I learned that “Thongrian” is a common name in other parts of the world, so I have no idea if that scammer meant to write that name and it was a typo, or whether it was really someone being like “thong + sangria = thongria” (which is how I interpreted it). 

 

Spectrum is so welcoming and helpful, an insanely different experience to my first time in a sex shop and I’m assuming many other peoples’. Do you remember your first time in a sex shop? 

I most certainly do! I went into Tic-Tac-Toe (now closed) in Greenwich Village to get a gag gift for my roommate freshman year in college. I also picked up some metal handcuffs (truly the worst restraint ever) and some very toxic butt plugs that were part of an “anal training kit.” I was uncomfortable, but I acted on my discomfort by being like LOL cool LOOK AT THIS!! While my friend who joined me was a bit more quiet and shy.

Like many people, I got insertable things before I got a vibrating thing. When you’re taught that sex equals penetration, you don’t realize that dildos and butt plugs are best paired with external stimulation (for many of us)! I mainly used those butt plugs to send sexy pictures to guys I was into, it wasn’t even for me, really. 

 

Your first vibrator? 

Ah, the original Lelo Liv. In navy blue! I still have it. I got that thing, and it sat in a drawer for weeks, maybe months, before I used it. I didn’t know it at the time, but the vibrations were far too gentle for me. I used it, felt pretty meh about it, and finally connected the dots that I needed something stronger, so I got a wand and the rest is history! The Liv ended up being a prop for me to shove in my ass during sex with partners — and no that is not an anal safe vibrator. I cringe thinking about it, and how it too became a prop for others’ enjoyment more than my own. It’s not that I dislike anal, I just did anal play performatively for others at the time, and I like reflecting on that.

 

Imagine yourself seeing Spectrum online through the lens of a young adult. It seems like a super informational and inclusive place for everyone. Was this the intention?

Oh wow — heck yes! The fact that Spectrum is nearly four years old and growing each day blows my mind, so much so that I almost compartmentalize it. It feels too good to be true. I can’t even absorb how fucking cool it is that I have grown, learned, and healed through creating this platform that also helps other people, too.

Ultimately, the viewers teach me more than I could ever teach myself. The education goes both ways, and I’m excited to make Spectrum a place where the users have even more input and ability to share their thoughts!

 

We are exposed to so much sexual content and have it available at our fingertips thanks to the internet. With that, information about Sex Ed has become more accessible. Your personal approach is very humorous and candid. How did you settle on your educational voice? 

I really think it’s just who I am. I recently watched videos from my childhood, and couldn’t get over how I have always had the same vibe (minus sex toys of course).

Pleasure is an amazing and beautiful thing, but there are many difficult aspects of pleasure, especially in our society today. I can only speak from my personal experience, and there is a lot of pain and trauma in my personal experience. So in order to approach my pleasure and take it back and make it mine, I need to make it funny. Humor is the only way I can authentically navigate the darkness in order to get back to pleasure. It’s not a deflection or glossing-over, it’s the way I can transform pain into pleasure. Humor is the change agent for me. 

 

From an online/IRL lens, have you seen attitudes towards sex changed since opening your shop?

Absolutely. People are much more aware of sexual trauma, specifically. The most frequently asked questions have always involved people with vulvas and their inability to orgasm, but people phrase it differently now.

Questions, in general, are worded in ways that are more aware of things like dissociation and physical pain that manifests from trauma. Instead of “why am I this way?” It’s now more so, “how do I move past this?”

 

What goes into being @thongria? Your internet presence is incredible, and I’m sure the trolls are unforgiving. Have you ever had to deal with online harassment? 

What goes into being Thongria? A lot of haphazard selfie taking that is utterly ridiculous. I have no content calendar, I just impulsively create based off of ideas that float through my brain. I think relative to my reach, I have been pretty lucky with trolls.

The things that cause me to get dragged the hardest are the things that strike a nerve with people and cut to the core of an issue that brings out intense feelings from people. I can’t say that my tolerance for harassment is healthy or natural, but after years of it, I do feel that online harassment over something I am standing up for is far better than no reaction whatsoever.

I just want people to self-reflect. If people follow me just to report me or troll me, maybe one day that ideology will unravel a bit. People who harass others online are making a bigger statement about themselves than the person they’re harassing.

 

Has IG ever removed your content in the name of censorship?

Yes, constantly. Just got notified of something being taken down within the past hour. Twitter is better about not censoring me. I respect the concept of community guidelines, but it’s clear that the guidelines are subjective, selective, and reflect many disturbing double standards in society.

 

If you could snap your fingers and erase a taboo about sex or a false belief/misconception, what would it be?

The belief that you can be entitled to sex or intimacy from someone else.

 

Do you think we will ever ‘free the nipple’? 

I am genuinely unsure, but I am hopeful. As we all begin to understand the fluidity of gender, and we see that reflected within the structure of society — maybe.

 

What’s something about you we couldn’t learn from googling you?

I had two pet snakes growing up. One was a large bull snake named Bullet, and one was a ribbon snake that I named Birthday because I got it on my birthday and I am terrible at naming pets. 

 

What’s your sign and do you think astrology influences your sex life at all? 

I’m a Taurus sun, Gemini rising, Aquarius moon… yes I know all that, yet I don’t think that astrology influences anything in my life, period.

I do appreciate that it is a way we can discuss personality traits and relationships, however! I have found far more personal insight from things like Enneagrams (I’m a 6.) I don’t have any issue with astrology, but I am bothered by people using it to manipulate other people (i.e. you can’t do X today, mercury is in retrograde!) as well as people who use it as a scapegoat for their shitty behavior.

But having said that, my Venus is Aries so I’m terrible to date!

 

What’s a toy from spectrum that my boyfriend and I should try?

This is a question I receive often, and the answer is… that’s up to both of you! There isn’t one specific thing that I think all people or couples should try. There are definitely things that can be helpful for couples, like sex positioners which help you get better angles, but nothing is “just for couples.”

But in the spirit of answering this question, even though it isn’t a toy, get a sex wedge! You can always just use it as a back pillow for eating snacks in bed. 

 

You can follow Zoë’s hilarious and thoughtful Instagram account here, and be sure to check out her podcast Hot Brain — currently streaming on Apple and Spotify. 

Article photos (in order of appearance) by Chloe Sells, Megan Lovallo, and Maizy Shepherd.

And Then I Squirted

This past autumn, my on again off again (now ex) boyfriend and I were emotionally masturbating each other and hanging out again.

It was the usual pattern, we would go months without talking and then hang out together “platonically” — meaning that we went on dates while refraining from touching each other until the end of the night, when we’d inevitably have sex and re-confess our love for each other.

On this particular occasion we went to MoMa PS1, did shrooms, and fell back in love. Evidently, there was already some magic in the air, because when we were having sex, I squirted.

Obviously, we got back together.

But I was in shock. I didn’t realize that squiriting was such a distinct experience. I just assumed that I had squirted before and hadn’t realized it. I thought it was one of the many vaginal fluids that got mixed up in the heat of the moment — but this was different. It was definitely a squirt, and it was big.

I was on top of him when I felt an orgasm begin and not stop. He was covered in it and so were the sheets. In that moment the debate on whether a squirt was pee or not seemed ridiculous to me. If that was pee, it was the most romantic pee I’ve ever seen.

Despite the uptick in our sex life, from that point forward, I couldn’t help but notice that he was trying to make me squirt again. The only problem was that my squirting experience had been a cosmic event. Not only was I on shrooms at the time, but I also got my period the next day. I was in-between ovulation and menstruation; at peak sensitivity. It was as if the stars aligned for that very moment. I was fine at leaving it at that, but he seemed fixated upon it; trying to achieve that magical squirt again.

I haven’t squirted since. I’ve even tried to duplicate the circumstances of that special night, but nonetheless, no squirt.

My one magical squirt experience got me thinking– what is a squirt?

I did my best to investigate the fluid online, but the lack of research I found on the female orgasm was astonishing. The information that I did find was filled with misconceptions or something my partner invalidated. For example, in the early 20th century, Freud declared that mature women orgasm from vaginal penetration, whereas immature women (girls) orgasm from clitoral stimulation.

If you’re an adult woman who orgasms from clitoral stimulation, you could be considered sexually immature or even mentally ill.  Freud and other doctors continued to preach this information for the next hundred years, following its original publishing in 1905. It wasn’t until 2005 when Llyod concluded that a majority of women do not routinely orgasm from intercourseSo we are fresh off 100 years of believing that mature women orgasm the correct way, from vaginal penetration. And also that we want to fuck our dads.

In recent years much more research has been done on the female orgasm as well as female ejaculate. However, many questions still remain unanswered. According to International Society for Sexual Medicine, between 10 and 50 percent of women ejaculate during sex. There are two types of female ejaculate: squirting fluid; a colorless and odorless fluid, and ejaculate fluid; a a thicker fluid which more closely resembles that of male ejaculate.

However, the International Society for Sexual Medicine asserts that scientists haven’t quite determined the source of sexual fluid. Scientists believe that squirt is actually fluid that’s built up during arousal and is then released through the urethra. Though it has been controversial for years as to whether or not female ejaculate is actually pee or diluted pee. Also, the fluid can build up in the prostate and be released in the pee, not during sex. So sometimes you’re squirting and you don’t even know it.

I squirted for the first time in my life when I was 22, after six years of being sexually active. There’s so much pressure to cum in contemporary society that it took me a long time to figure out even how to relax during sex and let nature take its course. I had been masturbating since I was 8 years old — that I had on lock. But integrating a partner into the mix was something that took time and experience.

For everyone out there who has yet to squirt I want to tell you that it is possible and don’t feel inadequate if you haven’t yet. While it is an amazing feeling, you can still have an incredible orgasm without it. The vagina is a mysterious muscle. Often, there’s no clear cut formula to cumming — everyone gets there differently.

The important thing is to relax and enjoy however you receive pleasure, and recognize that everyone’s experience is entirely unique. One day the stars will align for you like they did for me.

 

Photo (in order of appearance) by Nyle Rosenbaum, Alexa Fahlman, and Cheyenne Morschl-Villa

 

 

Pop Music Was My Sex Ed

 

I’m a 22-year-old who’s trying to be a writer and comedian living in Brooklyn, so obviously I have to do something else for money—I get to be a punching bag for two 7-year-olds for $22 an hour. In other words, I babysit.

The kids I watch are learning things on the hard streets of their public arts school faster than the average suburban child. While we were on the swings one day, we’d just finished discussing whether or not Beyoncé  plays Minecraft when one of them asked me what the word “sexy” means. A kid at school told them it was inappropriate and they wanted to know why. So I tried to give a G-rated definition of “sexy” and explained that it’s an adult word that they should be careful saying at age seven. Which made me think, how old was I when I found out what sexy was?

I searched my brain for the answer and I realized that no one had told me what sexy is—I learned it from a song. I was in fourth grade when I listened to “Buttons” by The Pussycat Dolls featuring Snoop Dogg. Nicole Scherzinger leads the girl band and seductively sings, “I’m a sexy mama / Who knows just how to get what I wanna,” which shook me to my core.

I remember this song so well because it was the first song I ever asked my dad to buy for me on iTunes. I sat there mortified next to him on our family computer, listening to six girls sing about taking their clothes off, and told him it was okay if he bought the clean version. From that day on I listened to the song on repeat, eagerly printing out the lyrics and studying the words with my friends, pretending to be sexy and unlocking the secrets of adulthood. I started thinking of other songs about sexuality and the lessons I learned from them.

“Magic Stick” by Lil’ Kim was the first time I heard the word “clit” and then I didn’t hear the word again until I was 18: “I got the magic clit / I know if I get licked once, I get licked twice.” 50 Cent’s “Candy Shop” was about licking the “lollipop,” an idea later revisited by Lil Wayne in 2008 with his song “Lolipop.” “I Kissed A Girl” by Katy Perry opened my mind to the existence of lesbianism. Actually, my friend played it for me before she told me that she kissed a girl named Leah on her softball team. As the list of songs grew, I realized that pop music was my sex ed.

Sex education was nonexistent at my public middle school, so what I knew about sex I mostly learned from song lyrics, innuendos in TV shows and movies, and my peers. Because most of my friends and I learned about sex this way, a lot of topics were left half explained—for instance, blow jobs were a difficult concept for me to wrap my mind around for awhile. The music that was popular on the radio at the time that hormones were flooding my adolescent body was extremely sexual—”Me & U” by Cassie, “Goodies” by Ciara, “Promiscuous” by Nelly Furtado (featuring Timbaland). And because no adults were teaching us this stuff and it was everywhere, people like Pitbull had to.

“My Humps” by The Black Eyed Peas was one of the most important songs of my sexual education, so naturally critics hated it—one said it “mistakes real humor for sophomoric jr. high level sexual titillation.” Nonetheless, the song deeply affected me as a fourth grader. In the third verse Fergie sings, “They say I’m really sexy / The boys they wanna sex me” and that may have been how I learned about sex itself. Regardless, it made me draw the correlation between sex and sexy—if you think someone is sexy, it means you want to have sex with them. Interesting.

Also, the chorus of the song really simplifies it all—the “lumps” Fergie refers to are my impending breasts and ass, and once I have them, I’ll drive these brothers crazy: “My hump / My hump, my hump, my hump / My hump, my hump, my hump / My hump, my hump, my hump / My lovely lady lumps (love) / My lovely lady lumps (love) / My lovely lady lumps (love) / In the back and in the front (love).”

Fast forward ever so slightly to 2010, “BedRock” by Young Money featuring Lloyd was another influential song to me. In the hook, Lloyd sings, “My room is the G-spot / Call me Mr. Flinstone, I can make your bed rock.” This spawned a lot of conversations about what a G-spot was and where it’s located, which middle school boys loved to discuss. What they didn’t know is that they would soon find that they also have G-spots and maybe one day would also learn where theirs were located. In Nicki Minaj’s verse, she raps, “Maybe it’s time to put this pussy on your sideburns,” which is some visual songwriting about oral sex. 

Not all of the learning was fun. “Runaway Love” by Ludacris in 2006 walked me through unprotected sex with a sad but beautiful chorus by Mary J. Blige. The song has separate narratives that follow three girls who are suffering. I always found the last verse most interesting; it’s about an 11-year-old girl who’s having sex with a 16-year-old boy. Ludacris raps, “Emotions run deep as she thinks she’s in love / So there’s no protection, he’s using no glove,” and when she becomes pregnant, Ludacris says, “Knowing her mama will blow it all outta proportion / Plus she lives poor so no money for abortion.” This not only taught me that abortions existed, but also that they’re expensive. Also, shout out to Ludacris for teaching me what contraception was.

The Hot 100 was responsible for my sexual education. I’m not saying that 50 Cent guided me through the steps of giving a blow job, but he created the dialogue about healthy things to do sexually. At the very least, these songs started many “Do you know what this song is really about?” conversations that weren’t being had otherwise. For many kids, pop music and the media are big parts of sexual education. What we’re exposed to as adolescents has influence on our sexuality, sexual identity, and how we perceive sex, and though I took an all-encompassing class on sexuality in high school, by that time I had already been sexually active for two years. I know that the legal age of consent varies from 16 to 18 in the United States, but we shouldn’t wait until then to educate teens about sex.

Hopefully today’s pop music is a healthy outlet for teens to educate themselves about sex because for some teens… no one else will.

 

Uneven Breasts

When I was 18 I had a breast reduction. Most people’s reaction upon learning this is something like, “Oh, did you have bad back pain?” The answer is no. “Breast” is singular when I say breast reductionI had a breast reduction on one boob. One of my boobs was so much larger than the other that I got it reduced to make them the same size. I’m not talking a one cup size difference; it was like a clementine and a large, genetically modified orange that you see at the grocery store and wonder how the fuck they grow an orange the size of a watermelon difference. They were the life of the party and the bane of my existence.

I had been praying for boobs pretty much my whole life. Everyone cool had them—my babysitters, my older sister, Lindsay Lohan. Even my grandma had them. It felt like this exclusive club I wasn’t allowed to be in. I did everything one possibly could to get boobs: pretty much nothing. I tried that exercise from Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret that Margaret and her friends do to increase their bust size, but it felt like an antiquated move. I went bra shopping with my friend who had really big boobs hoping they would rub off on me, and I imagined myself with boobs a lot. I wasn’t like a pervy, tit-obsessed kid… just a normal tit-obsessed kid waiting for a day that I was convinced would never come.

At last, when I was 16 I got boobs. But when they came in it was like one came out to play and the other never got the memo to start growing. They were uneven from the start. My doctor said to just give the other more time to go, but as they grew bigger, they only grew more uneven.

I had a pair of mismatched boobs. It felt like either: a) My life was a teenage coming of age movie of which the cliché moral was “to be careful what you wish for,” or b) My prayers all of those years must’ve been unclear in some way, because here I was with one boob.

Fast forward through years of endless complaining to my mom, waiting for the other one to catch up like I was advised it surely would, nothing happening, and then somehow getting my parents to take this issue seriously enough to get me a consultation with a plastic surgeon.

It went as you’d probably imagine. After sitting in the waiting room for an hour, I was shown into a room to meet a creepy, old male doctor with bushy eyebrows who was nice but not nice enough to distract from the fact that he looks at boobs all day. (Side note, why are there so few female plastic surgeons when the vast majority of cosmetic procedures are performed on women?) He drew all over my chest with a sharpie, and called my breast a “mutation.” We decided on a date for surgery and that was that. I would go under the knife only a few weeks before leaving for college, and thankfully it was going to be covered by my insurance.   

During the surgery they made three incisions: one in a long straight line along my underboob, another shorter straight line up to my nipple, and one cut around my nipple so that they could move it. Also, they lipo-sucked some of the breast tissue out via a tube in my side. The recovery was much worse than what anyone had warned me about. I spent my two weeks of mandatory bed-rest half conscious from pain killers, angry, and sad.

What did I just do to myself? I somehow hated my boob even more than before for of all the pain it was causing me and the thought of all of the ugly scars I would surely have. I hated that I needed my mom to change my bandages and help me shower. I hated how this was how I had to spend the last of my time I had at home before moving across the country to Arizona to start college. I wondered, did I just ruin my life? Questioning all of my decisions led me to have a full blown existential crisis and anxiety attack in my childhood bed.

But don’t worry reader, I am typing this today with amazing tits. It’s been almost four years since my surgery and after some overdue personal growth, I can say that I love my surgery boob just as much as my other boob. However, surgery didn’t immediately fix my problems and make me love my body like I thought it would. It took some time and I had to do some of the work myself. Undergoing the procedure helped change the way I thought about my body image, and eventually led me to embrace new elements of my femininity. My newfound body confidence complemented my pre-existing emotional confidence, allowing me to shine. 

When I look at my boob in the mirror I don’t feel regret anymore, I’m like yes boob! I’m proud of my decision to fix my boob and I’m grateful for the privilege to be able to do so at a young age. Having this surgery helped me grow into the person I am today—a person who doesn’t totally hate their body, who thinks it’s actually kind of nice.

I wanted to give an honest, candid, and realistic description of my experience for anyone out there that may be thinking about having something done to their breasts, especially teens. Now, I’m gonna hit you with some statistics: are you satisfied with your breasts? If the answer is no, you’re not alone. 70% of women say they’re not satisfied with their breasts, whether it’s regarding shape, size, etc. Which is probably why a breast augmentation has remained the #1 most popular cosmetic surgery since 2001 (and possibly before).

If you have uneven breasts, don’t worry—it’s normal. All breasts are different sizes, some more uneven than others. I didn’t know this; I just thought that everyone was supposed to have huge, perky porn star tits and that I was a gross mistake. In reality, everyone has uneven breasts. So don’t ever let an old, creepy doctor tell you that your body is mutated. Give your breasts time to even out because they generally don’t stop growing until age 18, and will continue growing throughout your adult life, especially if you have kids.

My advice for anyone thinking about getting a boob job/breast reduction is: do it for YOU. Don’t do it because your boyfriend, girlfriend, parents, or whoever makes comments about your breast size. Do it when you’re feeling emotionally stable, or whatever the closest thing to that looks like for you. If you schedule your procedure around a time of transition (i.e. going to college, starting a new job, moving, etc.) be aware of the emotional stamina this may require. Also be aware that the surgery won’t fix your problems or body issues, but rather give you the tools necessary to do so yourself. Your relationship with your body is not one you can ghost when it gets too clingy or says something weird; it’s a relationship you have to maintain for your whole life! Inevitably, so are our other crucial relationships, such as with our mental health and happiness. It’s all connected, baby. So whatever you call them—breasts, boobs, knockers, titties, your bumps, your humps, your lovely little lumps—take care of them.

And most importantly, you will need a support system. Though the boob jobs are so common it makes it seem like nothing, it’s a very serious surgery and you will need help. Plastic surgery isn’t the answer for everyone, but it was the answer for me. The pain and existential crises were a small price to pay for my overall happiness, a price I would easily pay if I had to do it all again.