Happy Sunday Happy People!
You want to know my favorite body part? Shoulders.
Once in highschool I found out I had the strongest shoulders on the volleyball team and since then they have always been my favorite. I can carry the weight of the world on these bad boys.
I remember we were doing planks and our coach was having us guess who had the strongest (enter body part here) according to our team physical therapist. Some were really easy to guess but we couldn’t figure out shoulders until Chelsea Butner guessed my name and got it right. She immediately turned to me and said something along the lines of “I knew it was you because you had those big ass titties to carry around!” Facts.
When I was 16 Danny Brown asked me to the homecoming dance. I had a crush on him all through high school, so naturally, I thought he was joking until he convinced me otherwise. A week before that DECA was having a fashion show that we were all supposed to be in. The dress that I was going to wear was supposed to be fitted to properly cover my large breast but when I put it on (maybe an hour before curtain) it didn’t fit. They forgot to fit the dress. I was devastated! To make it worse the partner I was supposed to walk with never showed up! I didn’t mention this before but I was also president of DECA at the time so not walking was not an option. I broke down into an epic panic attack. A group of women and other student models band together, found some safety pins, and went to work. I honestly just remember people pulling and tugging and my best friend Rebecca telling me it’s ok. Eventually I was sucked in enough that no one was afraid of anything popping out.
The teacher advisor for DECA at the time, Mr.Rosan, told me that he’ll figure out the missing partner issue and to get ready because of course I was first out. The music goes on, lights, I’m given my cue and I walk out. As I’m walking out the safety pins start opening! No lie I could feel them sticking me but I’m just smiling and walking and praying for this to be over. I hit my pose and wait. Out pops Danny Brown in full suit walking down the makeshift runway. We walk out together into the hallway and he turns and says “we gave them a good preview for next week!” and then proceeded to tell me I looked beautiful. For me that meant a lot.
A week later and it’s homecoming. One problem, I don’t have a bra. My breast had gotten so big that I had resorted to using two, sometimes three various sized sports bras to cover them up. I went to public school so most days I just wore hoodies and sweatpants. It was my uniform because I hated the way I looked and I didn’t want to call any attention to my body. So my mother and I decided to take the bus to the mall and try to find something I could put under a dress. In the past I’ve used tape but in this dress it would’ve been visible and to be honest the amount of tape we needed was just excessive and painful and I always hated it.
Long story short we find a bra. Kind of. It was a 34GGG (triple G) and it didn’t fit me perfectly but it did the job as best as a bra could at that point. It was also the largest size we could find. I ran in late to the dance because of this and Danny was already there but when I got there he had a corsage waiting for me and told me I looked pretty. Teenage swoon! We took a picture together and everything! I don’t have this picture for proof but i saw it once on Myspace so I know it exist. Here’s one of me and Beccy instead:
I wish I could say that we danced the night away and he asked me to be his girlfriend and I was totally popular and cool after but no. We danced, I think, to one song and everything went back to normal after. I got back in my pumpkin and he never asked me out again.
A couple weeks later I had a doctors appointment with my pediatrician because of the unbearable back pain I was suffering. I had huge bruises and indents on my shoulders from the sports bars and I couldn’t stand or sit up straight for very long or I would get these spasms and couldn’t move until they were over. I was on the volleyball team so I was pretty active but working out wasn’t doing anything to help the pain. It was at that appointment that my doctor referred me to a specialist so that I could have a breast reduction.
These consultations were horrible. I was 16 in a room with a bunch of grown ass people having to be naked from the waist up while they examine my breast. My doctor would ask me how small I wanted to go and I would tell him if you can take them all please do. I hated every second of it and for a while I was morally conflicted. Some guy I knew told me one day that if I went through with the surgery it would be a sin against God because he created me like that. That stuck in my head for a while and I would pray and pray on it all the time. This was a heavy cross to bear. To add insult to injury this was the year of SuperBad. They had that horrible commercial talking about some girl who had just gotten a breast reduction and how it was like slapping God in the face. I used to cry to that commercial.
That summer on July 21, 2007 I was on my way to the hospital to get my breast reduction surgery. Like all surgeries I wasn’t allowed to eat for 24 hours beforehand. I remember being so hungry! We were passing burger place after burger place. There was commercials on the radio for burgers. It was a rough ride. We got to the hospital and filled out some more paperwork. I was asked to changed into that paper gown and hairnet. The doctor came in to speak with me and then he broke out this metal device. It was like a really heavy, cold, protractor. He measured my breast again (at this point they were still growing) and he took a sharpie and drew lines and dots and all that stuff you see on TV. This part I hated the most.
The doctor left and a nurse came in to take vitals and get me prepped. Pretty much this is the point where they made me sign that paper that says BTW you could die but if you do it’s not our fault. Heavy stuff for 16 year old me. This stuff my parents couldn’t do for me either a lot of it I had to do and take responsibility for myself. The first time I ever had to do that in my life. Then the nurse says its time to go and has me get into a wheel chair to head to the operating room. “Say good-bye to your parents.” I lost it. I started crying so hard as I gave my parents a kiss. Right there the fear hit me all at once. I remember laying on the table getting strapped in and the nurse asking me about my job at IHOP and what the best thing on the menu was. I fell asleep telling him about harvest grain n nut pancakes. No. Shame.
They took around 12 pounds out of me and the doctor said he did as much as he could but if I wanted to go smaller it would have to be a separate surgery. Hard Pass. When I woke up the nurse told me my heart had stopped on the table. Then proceeded to offer me a muffin and ginger ale. The whole thing was very surreal. I remember trying to eat the muffin but I just couldn’t figure it out. I was highly medicated. I asked for my dad and eventually they brought in my parents. “Dad can we go get burgers now?”
As we were finally getting ready to leave the nurse said I had visitors. My friend Nazanin, her sister Mariam and their mother were waiting for me to get out of surgery with flowers. I started crying again feeling all the love and support. I hadn’t told them all the details of when and where my surgery was but they found out and came anyway. That kind of love could never be faked. I remember the ride home being painful and the walk up the stairs at home being painful. Also the neighbors came out of their house to watch me and ask my parents what was wrong with me.
The next day my father brought home a copy of the final Harry Potter book since I had missed the release the day before. Friends came to visit and eventually a friend of mine who worked with me at IHOP even brought me a burger courtesy of my boss. My mom made them all hold bags of rice so they could feel exactly how heavy the weight was that was taken out of me. She kept saying “Its like Reena had twins!”
After the surgery, my body was disgusting. I looked like Frankenstein’s monster come to life. For a while I regretted it and thought that my wounds wouldn’t heal and I would be stuck like this forever. My wounds did heal and I have very noticeable scars but they are a part of me now.
Going back to school that September I was nervous about what people would say about me. I put on the smallest shirt I could find and went to school. Some people made a big fuss over it, other people just spoke about me behind my back. I was in High School and people made very high school remarks. One story in particular got back to me. A Senior was in a class where I guess they were having a really heated conversation about me and my surgery. I wasn’t friends with this guy and I only spoke to him in passing but he turned to them I told them to stop talking about me that I didn’t do anything wrong and if they do they’ll have to speak with him. That story always makes me feel good. Like I had people watching out for me even when I didn’t know it.
And it wasn’t just the students, some of the teachers had my back too. I’ll never forget the first time I was cleared to practice volleyball again. I didn’t know I needed a doctor’s note to practice again. I figured the doctor said I’m good so lets put in this work. My coach called me out in front of everyone asking if I had a note. When he told me he couldn’t let me practice without one I broke down. I had been to every practice cheering on my team and all I wanted was to be normal again. I guess my tears swayed my coach because he let me practice and I brought in the note the next day. I gave everything that practice and I remember it was on the football field so it was all workouts and no actual volleyball. I didn’t care. On the walk home my coach was passing by in his car and called out that I did a good job. That shit made me so proud of myself! That year my team won the state championship too. Not because of me or anything I just wanted to add that in there.
Looking back on this, the insults, hardships and persecutions I endured just made me stronger. I used to have random guys come up and touch my breast because they were so big. This had absolutely nothing to do with how I was dressed either. I used to have people give me sex advice centered around my breast at 14 years old. Behavior that was both inexcusable, inappropriate and frightening for me sometimes. My body use to be a punishment for me but not I can appreciate my body more for having gone through this. I can look back and see the growth I had as a person because of this. Also, I can fit into cute tops now!
My shoulders are strong because I have had to live through the extra weight of my body and everyone’s opinions. I now have a husband who looks as my body and thinks it’s pretty awesome. I still run the risk of growing them back if I gain a bunch of weight or get pregnant but for now I’m good. I still get a bit of back pain from time to time but nothing as horrible as it was before. And I’m grown now. I’m not known or defined by this anymore.
This past summer I celebrated 11 years since that surgery. It’s something I survived.
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