"Your daughter wants a breast reduction. Who do I know at the Mass General?" I heard him say to my mother before hanging up the phone. I had a doctor's appointment the next day.
I had assumed that once I got rid of my breasts, I'd instantly feel small and confident. Rather than alleviate my insecurities, the surgery brought them closer to the surface. Although most people assumed I'd lost weight and couldn't exactly put it together, I now had physical scars from the reduction—thin lines running up, down and around my chest that turned bright red when I drank alcohol.
The first guy I kissed post-op was a sweet prep-school graduate. He didn't know me before and I loved the way I looked to him. I felt like I was in seventh grade again—excited by my new breasts, but terrified to show anyone. When we eventually went back to his dorm room, nothing sounded less sexy than admitting, "I had plastic surgery," mid-hookup. I awkwardly insisted he turn the lights off, still too distrusting to let another person see my body.
It's been five years since my surgery. Finally, at 24, my confidence has gone through puberty. Heads don't turn on cue the way they used to; when guys do check me out, I'm relieved to see them look me up and down instead of gawk at my breasts. I'm now in a long-term relationship, where I'm not constantly aware of my breasts and, more importantly, I've become comfortable enough in my own skin to achieve real intimacy.
A few months ago, I saw a new gynecologist. During the breast exam she asked me how long it had been since my reduction. I looked at her confused and unsure of how she could tell. To me the scars have faded entirely, and that girl with the duct tape and sports bras, who tried desperately to hide her body, has disappeared.