“Everything off but your underwear. The doctor will be in soon,” she said as she handed me the paper gown. But, you didn’t tell me if the opening goes in the front or back. Ass first or second? Shit, I hate these full-body skin checks.
Does Gisele Bundchen feel the slightest bit self-conscious about this? Do teenagers hate this, even though nothing is even falling or weathered yet? Every ripple, vein and freckle was scrutinized by my doctor. She even wore a headlamp around her head, like a coal miner about to head into a tunnel. Then, I’d hear the snap of a picture being taken. This is actually being documented? I want my records sealed. When she got to my boobs, the self-loathing in my head got louder: Is she choking back her puke? Will she have night terrors from the sight of these? Then we proceeded to have a conversation about sunscreen with me facing her, gown fully open; my tits hanging down like my scarves on closet hooks. This was humiliation at its maximum output, as she kept shooting photos. I said, “Wow, this is as close as I’ll ever come to being a centerfold in Playboy.” She didn’t laugh. I don’t blame her—it wasn’t funny. I yearned for my jeans and bra on the nearby chair.
I would guess that guys don’t care much when they’re in a medical gown, and the doctor clutches their balls and tells them to cough. They’re not thinking about a clean bikini area or back fat. I assume their biggest paranoia is worrying that the guy before them in the examining room was hung like a 70s porn star. Their expanding bellies and love handles that protrude over the tops of their ill-fitting GAP jeans aren’t a concern. It’s their dick size that’s making them squirm. Wow, that would be a dream to think about only my vagina while stark naked in front of someone. Instead, my head is swarming with enough self-deprecation to cause an aneurism.
I have a hunch I’m in good company here—that we women despise parts of ourselves for things we can’t control, like our mothers’ crows’ feet and our grandmothers’ thighs. But, my inner voice can be such a mean bitch, who wants to take some kind of vengeance on me. What the fuck did I ever do to her? I thought she was supposed to be a guiding energy and a personal cheerleader. She should be pumping in kind thoughts about unicorns and my favorite camp counselor. She needs to shield me from the devilish voices telling me I resemble my nana emerging from the shower circa 1980. Her gig includes suffering with me through nakedness and public speaking—even 50th birthday roasts—without hurling negative thoughts like spears through my frontal lobe. If she wants to remain a tenant in my brain, she better cheer the fuck up.
You know that cute, little serenity prayer that’s sometimes needlepointed and hangs on people’s office doors: Give me the strength to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference? Well, that’s the kind of thing my inner voice should be chanting to me. She should set those words to a catchy tune that will play over and over in my head when I’m feeling insecure. I want that song cranked at high volume when I’m in a bathing suit and about to step onto a beach. If she can’t shower me with love, then I will have to turn to the only resource I have that brings me what I need within a day or two—Amazon. A quick search just now brought me to this book: You are a Badass; How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life. Sounds good to me.
I dedicate this blog to Daughter 2. She is my baby, and, though she tells me I’m annoying almost daily, I know she likes me deep down. Now, that’s something that gives me some confidence.
*All names have been changed.
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