Friday, April 27, 2007

Are Those Real?

By Lisa Curry

Last fall, my sons, ages 7 and 9, had a day off school. My mother-in-law and I both took the day off work to take the boys on our annual pilgrimage to a toy store that puts on a big Christmas display. Afterward, as a matter of tradition, we had lunch at a nearby family restaurant.

When the waitress came to take our orders, she looked at me and asked, “Are those real?”

If I were someone else, I might have thought she meant my breasts. But anyone who’s ever met me can tell you there are eleven-year-olds far better endowed than I am in that area.

So what was she talking about – my curls, maybe? They’re real, although their original color, dark brown, has long since departed and is now chemically reproduced.

“Your eyes, I mean,” the waitress said.

That conjured a mental image of the skinny blond pirate from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl with a fork stuck in his wooden eye. I tried not to laugh, but I knew what she meant.

I have blue eyes. Just garden-variety blue, not some bizarre violet or turquoise shade nature never produced. Still, people occasionally ask if my eyes are really that blue or if I wear colored contacts.

I told her they were real.

“They’re pretty,” she said, and I thanked her.

I would guess that according to Emily Post, asking a person if her eye color – or curly hair, breasts, diamond ring, whatever – is real is probably a breach of etiquette. But let’s face it, out in the real, everyday, working world, there are plenty of people like that waitress, who don’t mean to be rude, but are simply curious. So it would seem mean-spirited to respond to the question with, “None of your beeswax.”

And, really, if you’re blessed with a feature that causes people to question its authenticity, you might as well take it as a compliment, right?

But what if the answer is no? What if you do wear colored contacts, get your hair permed, or have breast implants, and someone asks you, “Are those real?” Then how do you answer?

Pondering that reminded me of a story I heard at one of my sons’ baseball games. A bunch of the parents had gone to an adults-only party at a neighborhood pool the night before and were discussing a woman who’d drank too much, shed half her bikini, and swam topless.

One boy’s mother laughed and said, “That was my aunt, visiting from out of state. She’s a 45-year-old breast-cancer survivor who had a double mastectomy. If she wants to get drunk and show off her new boobs, can you blame her?”

Well, no, honestly, I can’t.

What do you think that woman would say if someone asked her if her breasts were real?

I bet she’d say, “Hell, no, they’re not real. I paid thousands for these babies. Check them out!”

Drunken skinny-dipping aside, we can all take a lesson from that woman.

Today, let’s celebrate ourselves – the parts of us that were gifts of the gene pool, the parts we bought and paid for, the parts that are less than perfect that we’ve learn to live with.

Let’s just celebrate being alive.


Cathy said...

Amen, Sister Lisa. A big hooray for all our parts.

A 20-year-old girl at work just hade breast implants, and very much regretted her surgery during the healing process. I wonder why we can't accept ourselves the way we are?

Tory said...

Great question, Lisa and Cathy? What is it about how women are raised that makes them constantly question some part of their anatomy? Do men do this and just not talk about it, or maybe they're questioning their lack of money in the bank just as harshly?

I have to say, now I've dyed my hair red, I'm always a little surprised when people wonder if it's natural. (When it's just
dyed it's pretty obvious it's not.)

Now, about those contacts . . .
My eyes are hazel, a mixture of green and brown, and when I was wearing contacts I wondered about green-tinted ones, but was told they don't really have the effect they're supposed to (of making your eyes look green.) Maybe cosmetic contacts are different from the ones that help you see?

Kristine said...

I think we all need to celebrate our inner/outer beauty, especially those parts of our body that make us unique.

Great post for a Friday, Lisa!

Pat said...

When I was a young 20 something working with a bunch of other young women, we used to sit around and hate on ourselves. One day a woman, older and a lot wiser, said: You can't hate everything about yourself, pick a part eyes, ass, chest, face --any part-- and love it. Everybody's got at least one good feature, celebrate it and forget the rest. It was good advice.

Judy Schneider said...

Great post, Lisa! You do have beautiful eyes, especially when contrasted by your dark, curly hair.

Your story reminded me of a party I attended when I was 26 years old. (I was married for about three years by then). A woman I hardly knew turned to me, sloshing her drink in my direction, and said, "So, why don't you have any kids yet?"

Having heard the question several times before, I politely answered, "I just had a miscarriage," and walked away.

My only regret is that I never turned to see how she reacted.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Hmm, I'm weighing in late here. Sorry.

I don't think it's a question of accepting ourselves as much as searching to make things better, or to feel better about ourselves.

I had a friend a number of years ago who was an ex-stripper. After her kids were born and weaned, she was flat as a pancake. While she was totally accepting of how her breasts were now -- especially given the reason WHY they'd changed so drastically -- that didn't mean she was happy with how they looked. She needed them back to feel good (better?) about herself.

To all the women out there who choose to have plastic work done, I applaud you and stand proudly among you.

(btw, Tory, I know some men who are as critical of their bodies as we are of ours. And nope, they're not gay.)