January 21, 2004

How You View Yourself

If anyone asks me how I would describe my breasts, my response is: Fucking Perfect.

Considering I paid a shed of money to have them reduced 11 years ago, I guess this is a good response. I went from a 40 DD to a perfect 34 C. I had actually wanted a 34 B, but I guess a C is ok. Basically, I wanted petite and delicate breasts that allowed me to view the world of the demi bra. I'm talking scalloped, lace edging, flowery satin patterns, the whole nine yards. I haven't looked back at the enormous "We can hold your breasts and all the breasts in your family at the same time" industrial white bras ever since. Bras are meant to be soft slips of fabric in yellow, black, red, blue.

My breasts are something I am proud of, but I have never been proud of my figure. Ever. I always felt like an overgrown Clydesdale-long legs, broad shoulders, strong arms, enormous feet, chicken pox scar on my chest, round face. Basically the kind of healthy peasant look that men in the Russian Revolution would have been interested. "I'll raise your babies...and your potatoes, comrade!"

Especially when compared to my sister. My sister got the Japanese genes, the good ones (all I got was the inability to stomach alcohol and lactose. Thanks, Dad.) My sister got the high cheekbones, the dark skin and hair, and above all, she got the size 4 figure. She eats anything and everything-burgers, chocolate, chips-and never gains an ounce. Her size 8 sister, on the other hand, has to watch her step.

When I was younger-and even now-I suffered wild eating disorders. Anorexia and I have been friends for years, to the point where people would ask what was wrong with me after taking one look at my exhausted and emaciated face (but ironically the lowest size I ever got down to is a 6. Even anorexia fucks with me.) During one episode I would only eat 4 cheese crackers a day. Then I got better and ate normally. Then I rebounded and I would only eat one sandwich a day, always at the same time of day. Three years ago, my grandmother made a cutting remark that I could be getting fat, so I only had one bowl of soup a day for months, losing weight and my mind in the process.

And in college I really abused laxatives. The thing with laxatives is that your body grows dependent on them, so you begin to be unable to go without them. It wasn't enough to take one tablet...I had to take the whole box, thereby necessitating spending the whole next day on the toilet, the unpleasantly sweet smell of a week's worth of unloading in the bathroom air. Whew...I was a real party girl.

I no longer have the laxative problem, although I do "enjoy" the fun of IBS as a result of those wacky laxative years. Yes, fate. I got the message there. Now go make a Schoolhouse Rocks about binging and purging. I haven't stopped eating deliberately for a long time, but I am a freak about not eating things like cremes, sauces, fried foods, high fat cheeses, etc.

Anyway, last night I was digging through some boxes looking for visa information and I found some photos of me, taken a lifetime ago by Mr. Y. We were on a part of the English coast called the Seven Sisters, which is a series of rounded cliffs overlooking the violent waters of the Atlantic. He and I went there, intending to be tourists.

But he and I never made for the usual tourists.

Once there, in the cool air of the sea balanced by the warmth of summer, he instructed me to remove my clothing. Remember, Mr. Y and I had a submissive/dominating relationship, and I basically did anything he asked. So without further ado, my clothes were discarded and I was standing outside, buck naked, for the very first time in my adult life. I was a little worried about the people very far away, walking on the edge of the cliffs, but I figured...why not?

And Mr. Y lay on the grass and just watched me stand there. Then he removed his camera, and started to take photographs. But I started to not really notice him so much, I just felt the cool breeze lift underneath the crease of my breasts, behind my knees, underneath my sheath of heavy hair at the base of my neck. I felt the lightness on my waist, stomach and hips of being released from clothes, and just allowed to feel the sun. My nipples were hard, which is something they rarely do after the surgery. I even let a hand drift down between my legs, to softly caress myself.

Mr. Y and I spent a lot more time on the cliff that day, but when we developed the pictures later, I was shocked and horrified-my body was so ugly! How could he stand to be with such a fat hippo like me! My God, my body was so revolting, even the Elephant Man was hotter than I was....I remember him looking at me curiously, his brow tightening.

"Helen," he said. "I think you look good in these pictures."

I chucked them in a box and never looked back. I didn't want a reminder of how I am not a size 4 or a size 2. Yes, I can shop in all the shops since I am a common size, but it wasn't enough-I've always wanted to be tiny. But last night I found them and looked at them. I realized, looking at them, that my body hadn't changed a bit (other than a number of skin cancer scars on my back).

And forgive me for saying...I look beautiful.

Yes I have the broad shoulders of a peasant-hook up a plow to me and let me clear your fields! Or better yet, allow your arms to circumference my shoulders and squeeze me tight. The long legs, always such a nuisance before, are strong and well-turned out, like the legs of a pasky and determined colt. My waist is soft and rounded, my hips smooth but with a tiny blip of the pubic bone pointing out the top of them, and my breasts are like soft, beige eggplants.

I have the body of a woman. And maybe trying to battle my way towards the Courtney Cox-dom of achieving a size 4 body is like trying to stuff my curves into a boy's body. This is who I am. These soft curves and soft skin, these freckles, scars, and bones.

I will most likely go on a non-eating stance again. Don't get me wrong, I am not healed a-la-Baptist-revival. It's not like it's something you ever get over. But in the meantime, I have these pictures of a younger Helen standing outside, laughing, exposing her curves to the world.

Be proud of your body. They're shaped the way they are, with every ample bit of variety, for a reason. Why fight what we're given, when we can instead be proud of a curve, a pocket of flesh, a scar? If I were a man, I would rather be with a non-self-conscious size 12 than a skinny and body conscious size 2.

I reckon another visit to the Seven Sisters is in my future.


Posted by Everydaystranger at January 21, 2004 09:41 AM | TrackBack

Hi Helen, yes this post is a keeper, one of the best I've ever seen on this "best of" series. I'll take your word for it about your breasts, I'm sure they're wonderful. As for your writing, it's GORGEOUS.

Posted by: Denny at May 25, 2004 12:58 AM


Posted by: TwiddlyBits at February 4, 2004 11:23 PM

I was going to give my standard rant about body types, but it does not fit here. Perhaps on my own site later this week.

What I will say here is a variation on the guy perspective - the really cool thing about bodies and breasts is that they change. It is trite to talk about women and the ocean, but both constantly change while remaining the same. Breasts grow and shrink, the lines of her face shift, regularly, and yet it is still her.

There is no one perfect moment or body shape, there never is. But we can always celebrate the body we happen to have at the moment.

ps, lovely wife has moved from a C to a B to an H cup over the years I have known her, with the ribcage a constant 38 except when hugely pregnant when it goes up to a 40 as the baby expands her torso. Victoria's Secret does not believe in women with serious rib cages, so I am glad that your girls can now dress up pretty.

Posted by: Ted K at January 22, 2004 01:41 PM

Hey! A size 8 is a great size to be! I'm a size 8...I went down from being a 10 most of my life. Of course, I'd love to be a 6 and have perfect abs, but 8 is considered medium, which is fine by me.

I hear ya about having to work at it, though. I need to exercise every day, or I'd gain weight. One of my friends never exercises and shovels down donuts, burgers, tacos and never gains an ounce. Then again, she's only 24. I hope it doesn't catch up to her.

Posted by: dawn at January 22, 2004 06:25 AM

Damnit - I miss all the good stuff.

It's great you've got to this point, yet it's a shame you had to go through so much to get there. And what's worse is how many others no doubt go through the same thing and don't reach the right conclusion - that it doesn't matter.

Posted by: Simon at January 22, 2004 03:26 AM

Great post with a great message. I can relate to what you've written and I think there's tons of other people out there who feel the same. Thanks.

Posted by: James at January 22, 2004 12:15 AM

I think it's so sad that almost every girl i know, including myself, has issue with her body and her eating.

Last semester my daily diet of a cigarette and coffee for breakfast, maybe a piece of fruit for lunch, and a bowl of cheerios for dinner certainly led me to lose weight, but i felt sick and had no energy. Living with a another girl struggling with her body image didn't really help, often it made things worse.

This semester we've resolved to eat actual meals. We're getting a new roommate, a boy, at the end of the month and we're going to have 'family' dinners and whatnot, so hopefully that helps things.

Mostly it's a case of accepting who i am. Someday i love my body with its soft curves, perky breasts, and hot ass. Other days i see bulges of fat, too small boobs, and a huge ass. Working harder to see the beauty...i know it's there, i just have to believe it is.

Well done on believing in your beauty.

Posted by: Laura at January 22, 2004 12:01 AM

still the body thing, and how one pictures himself: "14) I have two tattoos and a navel ring" - what is a navel ring, and where/what are your tattoos? Love, Miguel.

Posted by: msd at January 21, 2004 11:55 PM

Hi H,

Nice to see everything is working out for you! Well done on getting the job here in the UK.

Gotta run, so have fun!!

Posted by: Del at January 21, 2004 11:36 PM

Not to belabor the point, but the measurement is taken around the ribcage as well as the furthest point out. The difference between the measurement at the exogee and the measurement of the ribcage is the cup size. Further, The cup in a 38 D is larger than the cup in a 34 D. It's an aspect ratio.

Posted by: gymrat at January 21, 2004 09:56 PM


you kill me, but in a good way =)

Posted by: Dane at January 21, 2004 09:17 PM

Actually, Dane-I had posted it. It was up for all of 3 minutes, before I started to freak out that some of my potential future Dream Job colleagues would see it.

Posted by: Helen at January 21, 2004 09:12 PM

Oh my,

Helen, What can I say, that was just awesome. Perfection is indeed a fitting adjective for the whole of you, not just your breasts. What a wonderful thing for you to share. Shame it was only up for an hour...


PS - yeah, I know you didn't post it yet, but I know my comment on the mark, and I just made 30+ people run off pulling their hair out thinking they missed it =)

Bad Dane, no biscuit!

Posted by: Dane at January 21, 2004 09:10 PM

I'll tell you what-I will be posting a pic for just one hour at some point. Enjoy when it's here.

Posted by: Helen at January 21, 2004 08:38 PM

Damn you, Dane!

Posted by: Jim at January 21, 2004 08:35 PM


I shoulda knowed she would never go for the cheap praise and admiration...

Suddenly I have this urge to go work in a one hour photo lab on the English coast.... hmmm


Posted by: Dane at January 21, 2004 08:30 PM

It's ok Jim-Dane has me convinced that I shouldn't post such things!

Posted by: Helen at January 21, 2004 08:06 PM

Girl gets her dream job and all of a sudden is talking breasts again. Hmm.

Posted by: Kyle at January 21, 2004 07:46 PM

The measurement is around the breasts at the exogee (furthest point out) so if you remove breast mass you get a smaller measurement.

Helen i am shocked, SHOCKED that you would consider sending me such a pic. I thought you knew me better than that! Please for the love of God and all that is holy do not send me a picture of you nude with the naughty bits fuzzed over. I deserve the original. >;-)

Posted by: Jim at January 21, 2004 07:06 PM

It took me years to get some sort of comfort level with my body, kids in school say you are fat, you believe it, I look back at pictures of me when I was young, I was no where near fat, but it stuck in my head.

My realization came when trying to be ok with friends and family getting piercings/tattoos and something bothered me about it. I finally figured it out, it was that they were trying to decorate something that is already perfect.

Regardless of size, shape, color, we are all the perfect us, and unless we are comfortable with that, no amount of dieting, fiddling, or decoration is going to fix it in our own minds

Helen, I think posting those pics would be a cheap shot at getting huge amounts of praise and admiration posted to your comments section. Here's to hoping you not above a cheap shot =) hehehe


Posted by: Dane at January 21, 2004 06:54 PM

i can relate to the body issues. when i'm self-conscious i think my head to round, my nose to big, my stomach too fat, etc...and i went through the controlled eating, the laxatives, and such. funny thing is, i was never more miserable than when i hit my lowest weight of 85.

i think it's wonderful that you can see the beauty in your body. love it and love it some more. like you, that's something i have to work on constantly, but it's worth it.


Posted by: kat at January 21, 2004 06:14 PM

Beautiful post, just beautiful. At the risk of sounding dramatic, it really brought me to tears. Not a moment goes by I'm not thinking about my weight. Thanks for the hope that one day I will be truly happy with my body.

Posted by: Becki at January 21, 2004 05:57 PM

Well Helen, if anyone could claim to hold empirical data on bra sizing it would have to be Victoria's Secret. Regardless, I'm quite sure yours are, as you say, "fucking perfect." Funny though, I know of at least a half dozen women who have up-sized from a B/C to a D/DD and would make the same claim in describing their endowment.

Posted by: gymrat at January 21, 2004 05:47 PM

It's true; we're never happy with our bodies. There's always supposed to be more here and less there - a different curve, a jutting thinness. It's impossible. Many years ago now an ex convinced me to take nekkid shots during blowjobs. I hated doing it - and I *really* hated the pictures, but he loved them. He saw me whole and didn't mind it at all. You just never know how other people see you.

The one man I've ever had openly reject me on the basis of size hurt me deeply, but when he walked away, six guys stepped into his place. He's still single; I'm very much in love with a guy who could not give less of a fuck about my fat thighs.

You go, Helen.

Posted by: Kaetchen at January 21, 2004 05:33 PM

No problem Tiffani-glad you come here!:)

Courtney got it bang on-when I am good, then I treat my body well. Enter depression, and food holds zero interest. I can't even be bothered to do anything but coffee. When I am happy-well, let's just say I love food and have no problem admitting it. Amber can join us in the "we love our food and our bodies club!"

Kylan, Clancy, Solomon, Miguel, Curator and Paul-thank you, dearies :)

Jiminy (and Jim) I have actually been toying with the photo, wondering if I smudged some bits out...Hmmm...

Gymrat-I wondered that myself, I thought ribcage circumference was the numerical part, but then I have to believe what the Victoria's Secret label tells me...

Posted by: Helen at January 21, 2004 04:26 PM

If I were a man, I would rather be with a non-self-conscious size 12 than a skinny and body conscious size 2.

Absolutely. I've had all types and the pure unadulterated truth is it all comes down to one thing. Their mind. Seriously. I may be in the minority with that type of opinion, but ask all of us in 30 years and see who'se still happily married...

And ditto what Kylan said.

Posted by: Clancy at January 21, 2004 04:11 PM

http://www.beerlovercam.com/breastsize.htm , couldnīt resist sharing this with all of you here. I was allways very curious about all this breast size thing, and wich was what... Miguel.

Posted by: msd at January 21, 2004 04:06 PM


I guess I went through some of the same things you have. Intstead of just not eating, I used to take something called Mini thins. Which is supposed to be for breathing problems (Yeah right). Actually, they were a form of speed. But, you could buy them at any convenient store. Anway, they take away your appetite. As a result I would only eat one small meal a day. I looked sickly, after awhile. But, I was completely addicted to them. Eventually I had to stop taking them (6 years later) because my heart was beating too fast, I kept getting pains as well. I also, shook all the time. To make a long story short... once I stopped taking them I gained 15 lbs. It may not seem alot but, I'm only 5'2" and weighed 110 lbs at the time. I'm not exactly happy with my body now but, I feel healthier. Mentally and Physically. That's the key. Being healthy.

On a side note. I just wanted to express my happiness for you in every way. Your a great person and I'm grateful that I have come across your site.

Posted by: Tiffani at January 21, 2004 03:46 PM

There's nothing quite as satisfying as being happy with one's own body. Of course, many people, myself included, see being unhappy with one's body as a sort of self-flagellation - a penance, if you will, for not being "good enough". "I am bad, so my body is bad too, and if I try and fix my body to be perfect, or at least acceptable, then I'll be a better person and people will like me better." IMHO, one is never happy with one's body until one is happy with the person inside.

I eat when I'm happy - I like food, I like cooking, I like the presentation, the taste, the smell, the sharing. When I'm depressed, nothing tastes good, nothing is worth eating - and I lose a lot of weight, fast. I'd rather be fat and happy than skinny and sad - and I've been both.

Posted by: Courtney at January 21, 2004 03:32 PM

You are so right... you've got to be happy with yourself no matter what. That's something I've always had issues with. No one in my family is small, so I doubt I'll ever see a size 4.

Posted by: amber at January 21, 2004 03:31 PM

Beauty starts from within and radiates outward. You radiate so much you could have tentacles and we'd be too blinded to notice. I realize this is not on par with the mental image you conjured up but I hope you know what I mean.

You rock.

Posted by: Paul at January 21, 2004 03:30 PM

Way to go ...
I realize I have said that a lot lately, but you seem to be growing by leaps and bounds lately. You are not determined or defined by your job, nor are you determined or defined by your body -- you are a beautiful person, and it is certainly about time that you realized it!

so again, ~Congratulations!


Posted by: Kylan at January 21, 2004 03:08 PM

You know, Helen, Mohsen is right, you really should post those pictures. Let us all make our own decisions based on the evidence. And, after all, you know you have Jim's warped mind working overtime on the mental picture anyway, so it would just be a kindness to him. I'm only thinking of your readership, really.

Posted by: Jiminy at January 21, 2004 03:07 PM

40DD to 34C... you'll go to hell for that. J/K.

Liking what UC in the mirror is what it's all about.


Posted by: Curator at January 21, 2004 02:52 PM

Umm-K, How does one go from a 40 to a 34 by having a breast reduction? Aren't the numbers associated with the bra size indicitive of rib cage circumference? Yes, I'm well aware I've missed the point of your post, but I often get hung up on minutia.

Posted by: gymrat at January 21, 2004 02:40 PM

I've got another disorder that keeps me on a diet. It's called cheapness. I don't want to spend $1000 on a new wardrobe. Fortunately, my diet just consists of regular exercise and not eating like an ox (I assume they eat a lot).

Helen's right about being comfortable with one's own shape. My wife was gorgeous as a 6 and is even MORE beautiful as a 10 after 2 children and 12 years of marriage.

Posted by: Solomon at January 21, 2004 02:15 PM

A friend of mine once told me "There's never been a model who was happy with her body. I am, so I win."

She didn't look like a model but she was still gorgeous. You remind me of her a lot.

Posted by: Jim at January 21, 2004 01:53 PM

Thanks, guys.

Phil-not sure I want a Russian, but have nothing opposed to one (maybe it will help me remember my Russian!)

Miguel-still working on it :)


Posted by: Helen at January 21, 2004 01:11 PM

...eh eh, someone is feeling better. LOL. Good for you Helen, getting right with yourself is the first and more important step towards getting right with the world. Miguel.

Posted by: msd at January 21, 2004 12:27 PM

You paint a very good mental image of the cliff...though with any cliff facing the Atlantic you'd have goosebumps on your goosebmups!

As for bodies...there is no such thing as a perfect body, there are infinite variations on a theme but everyone has their own preference. Some cultures like tiny, some like soft, some like large. I'm married to a woman with a fantastic body...her breasts are an incredible C, firm and shaped like those you'd see in fantasy art books...with perfectly position nipples...fantastic legs (I remember she came to a meeting at a place I worked to discuss web-design and the head tech. couldn't keep his eyes off her.

What's my point - I'm not sure, only that to me she looks fantastic, to a Greek she'd be too skinny, to your Russian farmer she'd be too soft, too feminine.

And in return she tells me she loves my body, tall and lean, where I see myself as being too lean...

So - if you believe you look like a Russian farmer's wife...you just need to find your Russian Farmer, and once you have then that's all that matters.

Posted by: Phil at January 21, 2004 11:15 AM

it was better you show yuor photo instead talking

Posted by: mohsen at January 21, 2004 11:06 AM

You're awesome, Helen. Really.

Posted by: Meg at January 21, 2004 10:32 AM

I wish I could write the way you do. Btw, Congrats on your new job. Takecare and Godbless.

Posted by: Vikkicar at January 21, 2004 10:26 AM
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