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On Changing Your Body:

The other day, I saw the most stylish girl in the world. She was wearing a red cross body bag, a tweed brown coat with faux fur trim, and moccasin boots. But by far the coolest thing about her was her teeth. She had a huge gap between her two front teeth.  It must've been half an inch wide! I was instantly envious since, once upon a time, I had a gap too.


                                                    Age 12 or 13, with my natural gap.

In middle school, I broke the ends of my two front teeth off on a friend's bathroom sink. When they were repaired, it was suggested that gap be "sealed up" by the dentist.



                                                                    Today, no gap.

Now, gaps are all the rage. Lara Stone? Totally hot. Anna Pacquin? Beautiful. Without the trendiness of a gap-toothed looked, my close-toothed smile doesn't feel "me". My sister never had a tragic tooth-breaking accident and she has a space between her teeth. It looks so natural and my-sister-like, I'm sure if she ever got rid of it, she wouldn't look like her somehow.


This girl has great teeth and amazing hair. As her sister, I'm constantly jealous.

What does all this have to do with boobs? Well, in addition to once having a gaping smile, I once desperately wanted a breast reduction. As I've written here before, there was a time when I told anyone who would listen how badly I wanted to surgically change the volume of my breasts. Health care professionals would sympathize, but since my body wasn't done growing at 13, 16, or even 18, they told me to hold off.

Today, I'm glad I didn't have surgery on my breasts. I love my boobs. When I contemplate the procedure now, a breast reduction sounds painful, unnecessary, and foreign. It'd be like changing the shape of my hands or the length of my feet. My boobs are part of me now! I can't even imagine myself with smaller ones.

I also realize that breast reductions are the right choice for many, many women. Lately, I've found the options for significant body modifications overwhelming: implants, reductions, laser eye surgery, tattoos, colored contacts, hair dye, hair extensions, injections, etc. With all the appearance-altering options out there, it's hard to decide what's the best route for you. Unfortunately, it's easy to assume you know what's best for everyone else. We've all been there. You see a woman who has some sort of "change" - a tattoo, a face lift, implants - and you judge her, based on what you know about being yourself.

Except, we only know our own limited experience with our own bodies. I can't even remember what it felt like to be an A-cup. Nor do I have many wrinkles. My own breast-reduction feelings might change. I don't know how my breasts will be impacted by age, injury, illness, or pregnancy in the future. Conversely, what if something I want to change right now is something I'd regret down the road? I couldn't predict that I'd miss my teeth gap when the dentist changed my smile. I thought it'd be a relief!

However, when I stop to ponder it all, I realize that the changes or modifications aren't the main issue. The question is, who is making this choice? If I'm making the choice to change my body because I'm uncomfortable in my own skin, that's one thing. But if I'm changing my skin to make society more comfortable with my body, that's a whole other story. Society is uncomfortable with lots of appearances -- obvious zits, obesity, homelessness, advanced age, mental or physical handicap --

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