“How could someone with such big tits be so ugly”? This question has been the knife in my back for many years. I’m 58 years old. I know better. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”: this was the mantra we repeated as children that couldn’t be further from the truth.
My friends and I enjoyed roving the streets when I was a teenager. Not in the ways you might imagine today, but rather, a walk onto the main boulevard where we might sight a cute guy or two. Nothing ever came of it other than to score a soda or some bubble gum at the corner market, “Sal’s” to be exact.
It was fall of my junior year. I was an awkward sixteen year old who had lost my mother six months prior. I watched my sister and her husband vanish into the sunset in August for a big move from NY to Tucson, AZ. My other sister was tucked away in Cleveland, Ohio with her own family. But the worst thing of all was that I had started to develop gargantuan boobs! They were my scourge. They garnered wolf whistles and nasty comments from strangers on the streets. Great phrases ranging from “Nice tits! Let’s spit on them” to “Oh my God! Put on a bra!” What had happened to me? I didn’t ask for zaftig breasts, though my grandmother and mother had been well endowed (not to the same extent I was). I weighed 118 lbs, had a small waist and no hips, and these boobs were pendulous appendixes that hung down to my belly button. I felt like a freak show. I hated myself.
So imagine how I felt on that autumn night with my group of friends passing a local guy group of friends and one of them hooted, “How could someone with such big tits be so ugly?” I felt lower than the lowest at that moment in my life. What a very awful thing to say!
Four years later, I underwent breast reduction surgery at the young age of twenty, and I’ve never looked back. Not only were the large boobs fair game for horrendous catcalls, but my bra straps dug into my shoulders, my back began aching, my self esteem was cut to smithereens, and I had a hard time finding clothes that fit.
So I’ve had a wonderful peace of mind ever since that June day back in 1977. Back then, breast reduction surgery was something fairly new, yet I had enough supportive (pun!) evidence that it was a medical necessity, and my dad’s insurance covered the whole cost. I was probably one of the youngest women if not the youngest to go through with something like this at the time.
And yet. Oh, there’s been that “and yet” for my whole life. I forgive Fitzgerald, that’s his last name. I won’t give his first, but I’ll tell you that we grew up in the Little Neck/Douglaston towns of New York City. He went to Saint Francis Prep. He worked at the local Carvel, where later on with my reduced boobs, I never had the guts to tell him face to face, that I was not ugly. And who the f*#k did he think he was to say such a thing?
He was young. He was fueled by being with his comrades in arms. I was the perfect target. So yes, Fitzgerald, I forgive you. But I will never forget. Unfortunately, when I don’t feel great about myself, I still feel ugly thanks to you. That was a horrible thing to shout out to someone, especially to a walking wounded girl who felt so alone – no mother, old father who himself was dying. You probably didn’t know that.
Fitzgerald, I hope you don’t have daughters. If you do, I wonder if you think back to those words you shouted out in the night so you’d be the hero in your group of friends? How would you feel if some guy cut your daughter down? You’d want to defend her. I had no one to defend me.
Words are words, yes. The power they can hold over a person is mind boggling. I have been formulating how to write this post for a long time. Finally, I felt like I needed to let it go, to give it up, no matter how the words tumbled out. It’s time, I think, after forty two years of carrying this along like a heavy weight, much like those boobs were. Wherever you are Mr. Fitzgerald, it’s back on you.