Sexy title huh. Hang in there with me. We’ll get to it.
This past week was mostly fun for me. It really is nice to pamper yourself on occasion. My haircut on Friday was super. It happened to be the hairdressers birthday so they called to move my appointment to the morning. This actually worked out great for me. Olivia came with me which would have been fraught two months ago but since her little hairs are growing longer by the day it was just a fun mother daughter trip to a salon. Oh ordinary life, welcome back! The cut she gave me was perfect and the blow-dry with something called a round brush left me with the big loopy curls I longed for. When it was done I felt supremely hot. The rain was really pouring down on Friday though so she warned me to cover it up. When I said I would hold my daughter over my head if that’s what it took to keep it dry I may have crossed a line but no matter. I was a girl on a mission. I texted a photo of myself to my Mom. I took the photo by holding my phone/camera up to a mirror ala young people these days. That’s how trendy I felt. In the picture, I have my hand on my hip. I don’t think I have ever naturally struck that hot girl pose before. Maybe it was the big loopy curls or maybe it was the perm chemicals but I was feeling pretty sweet.
What was the difference?
That was the question I asked myself on Sunday after getting off the phone with a couple of my nieces. I have some amazing young women in my life. None of them are adults yet but a couple are getting close. I was thinking about what it was that made me feel so beautiful on Friday. The simple answer was the haircut and perm, which by the way was wildly more successful than I could have hoped. Bringing curly back! You could argue that it was the time spent devoted to caring for myself. The time devoted to shopping and applying all the beauty products was definitely fun. Perhaps most importantly, I didn’t rip any hair off of my body using hot wax. That is not where that hand on the hip confidence came from though.
When I try to recall the times I have felt confident and beautiful the moments that come to mind surprise me. The first was when I was seven months pregnant. I am not particularly attractive when pregnant but something about the shape of my belly and the promise of new life made me feel incredibly radiant. To judge my pregnant body would have been to judge my new little one and that just seemed silly. My body was changing and adapting in some decidedly unattractive ways but I never felt more comfortable in my own skin. Likewise, in the days and weeks following my mastectomy, I felt an odd sense of body confidence. Even though my body was forever changed in a way that no one considers flattering, the rationale behind the choice made an impact. I had just literally cut off my right breast for my loved ones. I think that was pretty badass. The confidence faded as the chemo took its toll on my hair and body. I’m only human after all, but, for those few weeks after surgery…..badass.
So where does the breast hair figure in to all of this? Perhaps the better question is why does she have breast hair? The answer is simple. During a mastectomy, the surgeon needs to take all the skin over the breasts along with the breasts. The female surgeon who performed my right mastectomy was very aware of the cosmetic outcome of the surgery and tried hard to maximize the aesthetics of the scar. When during the surgery it became clear that I would need to have the lymph nodes removed from under my arms she elected to extend the breast incision up to the armpit instead of making a new one. The idea being that one smooth continuous scar was somehow more desirable than two smaller ones. I didn’t really get it either for those of you scratching your heads. In the end, when it is time to sew it all up, the skin that used to cover your breast is in a bucket and so the surgeon pulls in the surrounding tissue. This is why the skin on the upper right corner of my “breast” now grows underarm hair. If that doesn’t instantly make you feel better about your body you have bigger issues than we can tackle here.
The point is this my darling nieces. We all have things about our selves that we would like to change. We also have things that make us proud. Sometimes neither makes sense. As you move through life, there is a happy medium between spending two hours preparing yourself to go out and skipping showers. Find the medium and try to live there. Stay open to the astonishing things your body can do especially when you fill it with an amazing spirit. When you are feeling ugly, be gentle to yourself. Don’t always be your harshest critic. And, when all else fails, get a perm.