It was a cold winter morning. The year was 2003. And my nipples? Swelled to the size of two mosquito bites. No I wasn’t having an allergic reaction — I was going through puberty, and it wasn’t pretty. All the boys and girls stared –1) because I was one of the first to sprout and 2) I wasn’t yet too self-aware and so nixed the idea of bras altogether. I was uncomfortable in my new skin but excited and secure, believing I was well on my way to full-grown boobs in no time. Well, you can imagine my disappointment when, ten years later, I woke up with the same mosquito-bite-size boobs.
1. How it feels to put excess hope in those “I went from a size AA to a size C at 25″ stories.
Every woman with small boobs has heard that elusive story — the one where some lucky 25-year-old, pitiful in all her late-bloomingness, finally grew the boobs she had always wanted in her mid-20s. We’ve all HEARD the story, but have never actually witnessed it. It’s always a friend of a friend’s cousin or someone else no less than four degrees of separation from us, her existence shrouded in the uncertainty of urban legends. But she keeps our spirits high.
2. Never going bra shopping.
I have zero clue how to shop for bras; in fact, I don’t think I’ve purchased a single bra in my life. My collection of bras fall into two categories:
- The bras I’ve had all my life; the ones I can’t remember not having. They usually look like a sports bra Susanne Summers might’ve worn.
- The bras my friends outgrew.
3. Never having to complain of sore boobs.
With boobs so small, there’s scarcely anything about them that needs tending to. Sometimes when your friends are complaining about their “sore” boobs, us small-boob folk will nod along and say something in the affirmative like “ugh, yeah me too…” But know this: we’re lying.
4. What it feels like to pull skin into a makeshift cleavage.
As a faithful member of the dwarfed boobs cohort, I am inevitably familiar with the myriad ways in which we try to trick men into thinking we are a cup-size bigger than we actually are. Like a blind woman finding her way by reading Braille, i too could find my way in a sea of darkness if it was adorned with those cup-shaped cushions that go into padded bras. But, perhaps the most practiced ruse of all is the classic skin grab; without enough tittage to secure cleavage, we resort to our skin, grabbing all the excess skin in our boob region that we can get our hands on, and use that as cleavage fodder.
5. How it feels to constantly hear “but small boobs are in!”
When it comes to boobs, the grass is usually always greener; everyone’s got boob FOMO and they won’t let up. (Though we all know who the real winners are: the girls blessed with perky B-cups.) Big-boobed women are constantly fawning over our small boobs and are always of the belief that their boobs make classy outfits look tacky and that small boobs are “chic” and “in.”
6. The sobering realization that you’ve gone too far with not wearing a bra.
Sometimes, us small-boobed broads feel duped, as if we’ve been excluded from a very feminine process: that of growing boobs. Sometimes — whether in an effort to make ourselves feel better or out of pure indolence — we forgo bras altogether. Big-boobed women are so envious of this and because it’s probably the only thing about our small boobs that they envy, we like to flaunt this one and only perk. But fellow small-boobers, beware: the sans-bra look has the power to come back and bite you in the ass; take your no-bra celebration too far and you won’t just be bra-less, but friendless too.
7. How it feels to borrow your best friend’s younger sister’s bra.
It’s always a fine moment when your best friend’s bra size surpasses your and now every time you need to borrow a bra she goes marching into her little sister’s room. A fine moment for all. Unfortunately, I’m not being facetious — cherish this moment, as it’s a hell of a lot more preferable than when the younger sister finally surpasses you in bra size too.
8. Small boob family pride.
I come from a female-dominated family in which the small boob gene runs deep. Ever since I could say “mama” I was aware of my fate. My mother, leading the pack, never once shied away from poking fun at her small boobs and my inevitable ones. There was never even a freckle of hope that I would some day have natural, effortless cleavage, and so we did what most small-boobed girls in large numbers too: we band together.
9. How it feels to freak out over big tits.
Having never had these salacious, excess appendages, I’m as impressed by them as the next straight guy. Would one squeeze hurt? Just one? I want to know what they feel like, because for all I know they really could have the texture of a bag of sand.
10. What dudes sometimes say about big boobs in private.
Because I’m a 32 AA, guys seem to think it’s acceptable — even welcome — to talk poorly of large breasts. One time I was applauded for my breasts because, as he put it, “your boobs won’t become a liability when you’re older.” And yet, hearing other talk about women in this manner didn’t make me feel any better! Strange…
11. That eating more doesn’t always mean bigger boobs.
There are some blessed women out there whose breasts hoard all of the weight they gain. Us bevy of small-boobed gals are not as blessed. I can’t stand when people say “just gain weight!” as a solution to my dwarfed boobs. Don’t you think if this worked I’d be practicing it already? Funneling Oreos into my mouth?
12. How it feels to put too much hope in “boob enlargement exercises.”
There’s this chant I used to say as a 12-year-old that, in hindsight, epitomizes a truly twisted mindset. While doing this weird pectoral clench thing — which I know realize is just a rather useless exercise for the serratus anterior — I would sing “I must, I must, I must increase my bust, the bigger the better the tighter the sweater the boys depend on us.” Prolific poetry, I know…But my focus isn’t so much the anti-feminist chant as it is the “boob exercise” that went along with it. Futile boob exercises abound and, after trying them all out, I can safely say they’re all folklore.
13. The I-want-a-boob-job phase.
And this is especially true if you grew up in the 90s like me — note: this is not the same as growing up with 90s GIF-related articles. The 90s was anything BUT boobs, and most of them were fake too. Elizabeth Hurley, Lil’ Kim, Pam Anderson, Jenny McCarthy, Jennifer Love-Hewitt, with Aaliyah and barely anyone else leading the small-boob camp. My point is, the influence was strong. And it took a toll. i’m just glad my mom refused to let me get one “until I could pay for it myself,” because, though I still can’t afford it, I now know I don’t want it.
14. Getting over that phase.
It’s not instantaneous; you don’t go to sleep one night dreaming of fembots and wake up idolizing Kiera Knightley. It’s gradual, but it happens. As it tends to happen, you realize: “Wait a second — world hunger. Gay rights, too. Also: racism still exists. And: FEMINISM!” And what used to matter begins to matters less…
Hello, travelers! Welcome!
I hope you found the climb invigorating, though I somehow doubt that you did. I know, I know, many of you are perhaps a little out of shape. Don’t be ashamed! Everyone who comes here enters like you, sweating, wheezing, quietly cursing that last hateful breakfast streusel under his breath. Calm yourselves. You’re done, for now. With that, at least.
By now, you may have noticed that your corporeal coils have been shuffled off. All that’s left you now is your slovenly, out-of-shape soul. Yes, it’s not pretty to look at. But that is why you’re here.
Now. Settle in. And listen up. And listen closely! I have made this very speech over one hundred million times, and you can only imagine how much I’d loathe to repeat it to you individually because you couldn’t keep your mushy, torpid brains focused for ten damned minutes.
Do I have your undivided attention?
This is orientation.
My name is not important. Just know that, in life, I was like you: worthless.
I died fat, useless, wrapped in satin sheets, heart filled with plaque and mind with cysts from disuse. I was a slug, physically and spiritually. Which is why my penance is to zealously guide you from the mountain of Purgatory to your salvation. It is a job that I do not take lightly.
And on that note: We’re glad you all made it to Purgatory. The temporary fire that you will soon experience is a damned sight better than the eternal flame experienced by those whose actions were irredeemable in life. Nor is your lot as desirable as those who lived pure lives, and whose reward began immediately upon ceasing to live. No, you are part of the great, unwashed average. How proud you must be, you perpetual c-plussers. How lovely to have made the cut! You squeaked by, just barely.
Let me explain something about sin. These mortal sins, these deadly sins, are the blueprint for this impossibly high Mountain, this vast machine whose purpose is to purge, and these sins, as the virtues that mirror them, are all borne of the same thing: LOVE.
Yes. You heard me, love. Sins come from love. Virtues, of course, are created when love is directed properly toward good and honest ends. Sins, however, are created when that love is misguided. Those whose love was directed toward evil things, the wrathful, the envious, the prideful, are on the three terraces below. Those whose love toward good things was too perverse, the gluttonous, the greedy, the lustful, are above. Everyone on every other terrace loved the wrong way, loved too strongly. But you. Your love. Was not misguided, per se. It was merely… deficient.
Because of your tendency toward the median, you now find yourself on the Fourth Terrace of Mount Purgatory, the very middle, that place reserved for those whose sin was Sloth. That incredibly middle-of-the-road, vanilla sin.
If Lust was a color, it would be a dark crimson, pulsing with life and slick with the frenzied glandular discharge of passion. Wrath would be the deepest, most unfathomable black. Envy an acid, vivid green.
Sloth is beige.
You are here because your inability to get off of your fat asses in life rendered you all completely incapable of committing worse sins than this. It kept you from feeling anything too strongly. Your laissez-faire attitude toward existence kept you out of real trouble, while the rest of humanity was off overeating and looting and fucking strangers and snorting and shooting up and generally having a better time than you.
Nope, no hard sinning for you! No, instead you chose the easiest route, the sin of inactivity, of inertia; you slept in, refused to put on pants in the morning, you lay in your filth on the sofa each day, allowed your bank accounts to deplete, your loved ones to wander off into the world in search of men-of-action! The lethargea was just too intoxicating for you, wasn’t it?
Well. Here we are, at any rate.
I’ll now explain the penance that will eventually purge you of this Sloth, and allow you to pass through the Garden of Earthly Delights and into eternity. It may seem somewhat cruel on its face, given your current state. But it is for your own good! Think of it as a very long, uninterrupted workout.
First: You are to be chained to treadmills. Yes, we have treadmills here. For a long time, we just had everyone run in a one big circle until they’d made up for all of the steps they didn’t take in life (times one thousand), but we found that it was too difficult to keep track of and was hell on the carpeting. So, as soon as the technology was available, we bought five billion treadmills. The noise is a little distracting at times, but we’re sure you’ll manage.
Once you are securely fastened to your treadmill, we will turn it to the highest speed and place it on what might seem like a sadistic incline. Again! This is for your own good. I take almost no joy in watching.
You will notice that, attached to the handlebars, you will find an e-reader with the biography of every person-of-action who ever lived, from Alexander the Great to Amelia Airheart to Camillo Torello, inventor of the Western Seed drill. These were people who never experienced the torpor of Sloth. These people were driven to move forward, divinely inspired, to create and conquer. These people felt a deep and passionate love for the world, and worked to better it.
You will read their Biographies. All of them. In chronological order.
You will then write in-depth reports on each individual. These papers must be not less than twenty pages per, Times New Roman, twelve-point font, single spaced. These papers must follow MLA Handbook Standards. Any paper found lacking for any reason shall be rewritten. Spellcheck, people.
You are also expected to learn every love song ever written, and- at appointed times- you are to sing. You are to be note perfect. No discord will be permitted.
You will be given no breaks. You need not eat, you are beyond that need. You need not urinate, nor defecate. You only need to run, and to read, and to write, and-by all things good and holy- you need to sing.
And, finally, you are to meditate. While performing these other duties. Your subject of meditation: what a worthless piece of shit you were while alive. This is mandatory, of course, and perhaps the most important aspect of your penance. Because as you begin to understand yourself, and your sin, as you begin to see what set you apart from your betters, as you sweat and toil, you will come to understand why your love was deficient.
And in understanding, you will find acceptance. And in acceptance, you will finally properly love. And this finely honed LOVE will purge you.
Ask no questions; I do not understand the will of those above me any more than you do. I myself am still mid-struggle. I, like you, shall do as I am told. And I will do it with a passionate fervor, as directed. I am still in the process of understanding my own sin. And like you, I hope one day to purge myself and enter through the front gate of Heaven to Blissful, Ego-free Eternity.
Now, everyone find your station. Are you ready?
This is going to take quite some time.
1. You Suddenly Realize She’s Not A Kid Anymore
As she ponders over baby names and asks your opinion on cute little outfits, it still doesn’t dawn on you that she’s about to enter or has already entered motherhood and what that all means. You know she’s having a baby, but you won’t realize she’s a mom now until that one afternoon where the baby is crawling around the house and everyone stands there, looking proud, taking pictures. Suddenly you’ll see her mothering over a baby and then you’ll remember that this was the person you threw food at at the dinner table and locked in the closet and played little jokes on and who you bonded with when you did something that got you both grounded. Now here she is, a mom herself.
2. You Freak Out About What Your Exact Responsibilities As Uncle/Aunt Should Be
Like…what are you supposed to do exactly? You’ve never been an uncle or an aunt before, and there are no guidebooks on how to be a great aunt or uncle aside from bringing lots of presents all the time. Does it mean being a babysitter? Does it mean helping out whenever you can? When my sister had my nephew five years ago, I sent him a cute little Yale baby onesie and all kinds of other stuff. Hey, gotta get them started early! But you don’t just want to be The Present Giver. You want to be in your nephew or niece’s life, which will be especially difficult if you and your sister live several states away. You want your nephew or niece to know who you are.
3. Your Parents Will Text Photos To Everyone About Cute Stuff The Baby Did Today
My mom texted me a picture of my nephew in his little Batman costume on Halloween and it was a total awe-fest. There’s nothing cuter than an excited parent sending cute photos of her grandson or granddaughter out to all of social media. Yes, people complain about lots of baby photos on Facebook, but I’m talking about when your mom or dad sends group text photos to all your family members from time to time, including relatives whose number you don’t even have. Then everyone responds about how cute the baby is and all is well in the world.
4. You’ll Realize She’s Still The Same Person
I don’t know why we think things change once the baby is born, as if you become some pod of your former self. As you watch your sister mother over her child, in the same breath you’ll realize that she’s actually the same girl. She’s got more responsibility and her life priorities have changed, but much else. She still laughs at the same things and has the same sense of humor, and if you threw food at her right now she’ll probably throw it right back at you, just like old times.
5. Everyone Will Ask When Are YOU Having Kids?
Your mom can’t wait to be a grandma, especially now that you’ve been out of the house a few years. As you make your way into your 20s and get closer to your 30s, parents start wondering when you’re going to put the keg down and start a family. But the pressure gets even stiffer if your sibling beats you to babyhood. Well now everyone is looking at you, asking where your baby is and when you’re going to get on the family train. You’re going to have to come up with a better excuse than “Oh, I’m just trying to focus on my career right now.” Not unless you want to sound like a soulless, baby hater.
Welcome to the Rashard Mendenhall thinkpiece. In this thinkpiece, we’re gonna talk about the recent retirement of NFL running back Rashard Mendenhall. It’ll be pretty serious, and will attempt to rationalize a somewhat forced argument that caters to some sort of brand-oriented agenda.
A few days ago, the 26 year-old Rashard Mendenhall (born in 1987) announced that he was retiring from the National Football League. People were pretty shocked, because retiring at 26 years old is seems like a negative thing to do — especially for someone like Mendenhall, a two-time Super Bowl champion who was “successful,” made some $$, and presumably had a number of seasons ahead of him. If you need a #postgradlife comparison, Mendenhall had a bright future with the company (The NFL), and could’ve been “a solid asset for years to come.” Barring further injury, Mendenhall certainly would’ve been the type of employee who’d eventually gain a modest corner office — the type of guy who’d go to the company-sponsored happy hours and end up talking to the wide-eyed rookies about what it’s really like working at this place, and, how that as long as they don’t fuck up, they’re in for a pretty sweet deal. The type of guy who’d say all that and look happy on the surface, but would clearly be hiding some pain behind those eyes. Because those eyes would be lined with a deep-seated misery, the type that would clue you into some sort of greater dissatisfaction. You’d get the feeling that the 33 year-old Mendenhall, your prototypical not-hugely-successful-but-successful-enough-to-have-no-reason-to-complain company man, was not exactly happy.
So instead of marrying himself to the corporate NFL grind, Mendenhall put in his two weeks notice via a very well constructed blog post. The highlights of which, you could read here:
The truth is, I don’t really think my walking away is that big of deal. For me it’s saying, “Football was pretty cool, but I don’t want to play anymore. I want to travel the world and write!” However as I told the people around me that I wasn’t planning on signing again, there was a surprising amount of shock and bewilderment.
So when they ask me why I want to leave the NFL at the age of 26, I tell them that I’ve greatly enjoyed my time, but I no longer wish to put my body at risk for the sake of entertainment. I think about the rest of my life and I want to live it with much quality. And physically, I am grateful that I can walk away feeling as good as I did when I stepped into it.
As for the question of what will I do now, with an entire life in front of me? I say to that, I will LIVE! I plan to live in a way that I never have before, and that is freely, able to fully be me, without the expectation of representing any league, club, shield or city. I do have a plan going forward, but I will admit that I do not know how things will totally shape out.
Mendenhall, in addition to sounding like a classic 20-something (travel the world and write? You writing a Thought Catalog article, bro?), reminds me a lot of the girl who came up with some sort of app, sold it at the right time, and is now looking into opening a roving food truck. Or the guy worked a bunch of years in finance but then quit to do something he actually wanted to do. The type of people who #grind, get what they want, and then go off do what they want. Basically, overambitious Tom Riddle types minus the supreme evil.
Mendenhall then, very much fits into this boundary-adverse career ideal that feels like a glorified version of The Social Network – an emerging school of thought that doesn’t necessarily look at success as something that’s track oriented, but rather something that’s talent, work-ethic, and personal brand oriented. From reading his post it seems pretty clear that he wants to do him, and use that angle to experience and achieve things elsewhere, whatever that may mean. He’s put himself in a position where he can now pursue things he wants to pursue, all on his terms – the way we’d probably all like to look at careers if we had the means, abilities, drives, and resumes to do so.
So by leaving the NFL, Mendenhall is no different from the guy who spent nights tutoring overprivileged kids in math, and is now looking to open up his own improv comedy venue. Sure it’s a lot more high profile than your friend who just quit his job to move to Austin, but all he’s really doing is undergoing your quintessential, idealized “if I had more than 0 in my savings, I’d get the hell out of here” career change. And he’s doing it for the same reasons anyone else would — he’s not looking for structure, he’s looking to broaden his life experiences, and he’s not looking for compromise. And above all that, he’s certainly not looking to be the 34 year-old guy who’s too comfortable to be allowed to regret anything.
Although I’ll miss him on SportsCenter, I very much respect Rashard Mendenhall. He’s well on his way to being the super-millennial the rest of us thought we were gonna be.
When I was a child I thought I might be a teacher or a veterinarian, a psychologist or a writer. I wanted to work with animals. I wanted to teach others how to read. I wanted to explore the world. I wanted to write books and help people feel less alone. I wanted to be all of these things at once or maybe, if I was lucky, just one of them. Then I got a little bit older and a little bit older and most of those dreams died for one reason or another. Practicality was an issue, I guess.
I remember being 13 and talking on the telephone to my best friend. He lived in a log cabin and I lived on a farm. We asked each other when we might die and we both agreed we couldn’t picture living past 26. What happens after you’re 26? We weren’t sure. We were reading books like The Bell Jar and Girl, Interrupted and White Oleander and similar literature that made us feel a little more human on days when the rural landscape of our homes felt like it could swallow us up.
My dad was dying of cancer and always in the hospital so my mom would leave me alone a lot to go be with him so I didn’t have to deal With All That. My best friend and I were a 20-minute drive from each other, which doesn’t seem like too much, but when you’re 13 without the ability to drive 20 minutes feels the same as three time zones away. We had a lot of phone calls.
Now we’re older, older than 26, but I’m not sure if I’ve figured out how to be this really great person. You know, the kind of person that people are like, “Damn, she’s so cool.” I’ve never won a contest. I’ve never won anything, actually. I lost the 5th grade spelling bee. I’ve never been skydiving. I don’t know how to swim. I wish I rode my bike more. Wait, I don’t even own a bike. I hate taking selfies. I forgot to Skype my mom yesterday. I don’t understand why there are so many think pieces over guacamole.
It’s not a matter of not knowing who I am but rather still feeling a bit ambivalent about things – big life things like, should I live in this city? Should I settle down or keep traveling? Some things I do know for sure – like I know that I’ll never be in a folk band or release a chapbook of poetry. I know I’ll never live in my hometown again and that I have a great aversion towards Hawaiian pizza.
I guess life is just this weird thing. It’s like you’re 18 and you feel weightless and untouchable and like this sort of freedom could last forever but then one morning you wake up and you’re almost 30, staring down at the bottom of your coffee cup, wondering if any of it happened at all.
It’s cliché to say but life is really short – too short – it’s something you don’t really think about until someone you know dies or you’re reminded of your own mortality that sends you into a state of shock. You remember that nothing is permanent, certainly not life, so you think you’ll take up a painting class or visit your uncle you haven’t seen in 10 years – all of these things that you think could make life a bit more memorable.
But soon, as it always happens, you get back into your old routine. You forget about the canvas sitting in your closet or you forget to call your uncle. You keep living life and waking up and working and doing whatever it is you do. And that’s okay, of course, it’s just what we all do as humans, but sometimes I wish those moments that remind us just how alive we really are lasted a bit longer. We’re all so numb it seems.
I think about my ex who’s on the fence about us. I wish I could just say to him, “Listen up, do you love me or not? Stop fucking around and let’s do this. Let’s go to Thailand and be unnerved for a bit. Let’s run around Bangkok like kids. Let’s get a tan and drink rum on the beach and eat heaps of pad thai.” Or I wish I could call my sister and say, “What’s your problem? You’re the only sister I have. Stop being such a colossal shit head.” These things, of course, I cant and won’t say to these people, mostly because you probably shouldn’t swear at people you love when you’re trying to convince them of something.
It’s hard being a people some days because the things you want or need are sometimes completely out of your control. There are no instruction manuals for relationships or how to properly manage adulthood or any of the things that can be so very confusing.
I’m 29 now. I’m a writer. I’m a traveler. Those are the things I tell people and yet still…