*I wrote this post as an exercise for my creative nonfiction class (write about an experience you’ve had with a body part). Since I lately find myself short on free time to blog, I hope this personal essay serves as an acceptable substitute.
I’ve always said there’s nothing better than a good poop joke. Over the past twenty-odd years, my body and intellect have grown and matured, but my sense of humor most definitely has not. Any sort of bathroom humor – poop, pee, vomit, farts, naked butts – never fails to send me into a fit of giggles. I don’t always poop, but when I do, you’ll probably hear about it because I find poop talk hilarious. Just look at the word! It’s so… symmetrical. Those o’s are cute little googly eyes googling at me. And when I say the word, I pronounce the p’s with such pop that spittle goes flying out of my mouth, and my conversation partner and I bond over how adorably awkward I am. Unless my conversation partner finds poop crass, but that’s her problem because everyone poops and everyone has a butt and if she’s not comfortable with those two facts, we probably weren’t going to have a functional friendship anyway.
When puberty hit me, it hit hard. I swear, God’s giant fist swung down from heaven and punched me right in the ovary. And then my butt swelled up and everything changed. I still found the idea of butts amusing, but mine was certainly not a laughing matter. The front of me looked like a kid, right down to the clear skin and flat chest and orthodontia-filled chubby cheeks. My backside was an inconsistency that made me so anxious I could cry. In the Kohl’s dressing room, and the Target dressing room, and the Old Navy dressing room, I did. Big, wet tears rolling down my face because every pair of pants felt too tight in the butt and too loose in the hips and I probably had only a few days until I had no option but to go around half-naked.
For as long as I can remember, I hated my body. Loathed it. Would not have minded if it were run over by garbage truck (so that my soul could reincarnate as a beautiful, graceful, government-protected buffalo). My repulsiveness permeated every aspect of my physical being, in my opinion, and my rear end embodied the worst of it. Fortunately, I gave up on trying to change my appearance before I did anything drastic. I lived a healthy, active lifestyle, and I knew that a hundred lunges and a thousand calories a day weren’t going to change my body type. I slowly began to come to terms with the notion that I had the shape of a mushy pear.
One morning during my freshman spring of college, I plopped myself down on a chair in the cafeteria and felt a searing pain shoot up my butt, starting at my tailbone. The sensation vaguely recalled memories of previous bruises, but this? This was a bruise so intense I thought I’d broken a bone, or maybe my keister had literally exploded. I didn’t remember falling or being hit, and I couldn’t see any bruising when I pried my butt cheeks apart and looked, so I shrugged it off and didn’t give it much more thought. After several days, the monster bruise still hadn’t healed, so I turned to every anxious person’s favorite resource: WebMD. Hemorrhoids. Oh, lord, please no. Take me now. I’ve lived a full enough life! It’s not supposed to be this way!
A trip to the doctor’s office revealed I was not experiencing hemorrhoids, praise sweet baby Jesús. In truth, I had a pilonidal cyst – basically a glorified pimple at the top of my butt crack – that required surgical drainage and removal. The doctor explained the nature of the routine procedure, and I quickly consented. A few days before the surgery, though, I went through one of my typical “what if” episodes: What if something went wrong? What if the surgery, which took place right in the middle of my caboose, irrevocably changed the shape of my butt? The idea of altering the only body part I’d ever really felt strongly about, even negatively, made me realize that perhaps I didn’t abhor my behind as much as I thought I did. The heftiness of my heinie may inconvenience me sometimes, whether refusing to fit into cute pants or eliciting unwanted catcalls on the street, but my posterior is just that – mine. I’d finally gotten used to my appearance, and I wasn’t ready for any part of it to change.
Of course, I recovered from the procedure with two shapely buns looking just as they always did, with the exception of a tiny scar that no one’s ever been close enough to see. My subconscious, on the other hand, seems significantly scarred. Since the surgery, I’ve had recurring anxiety dreams where my tokus deflates like a popped beach ball. Each time, I’ve woken up and had to reassure myself that I’m okay; I’m not a superficial robot because I care about how my butt looks. My insecurities don’t feed into “the system.” In fact, my self-love defies it. Society constantly tells me it’s normal for me to hate my body, and if I don’t, I’m a narcissist. I should work out every day so I have a tighter ass, not so I’m prepared for the zombie apocalypse, just in case. I should hate my thin hair and olive skin and long nose and mosquito bite, A-cup boobs. I should do more to tone my abs and fix my spotty complexion and distract from my asymmetrical ears. Except I don’t see a need to take those sorts of actions because finally, I love my butt and I like how I look.
My butt, looking fine as hell.