Casey Canright,
‘The Skin’

I thought I was the first in my school to have boobs, but really I was the heaviest girl at Trent Elementary. In middle school, the girls around me blossomed. I marbled with saturation.When maturity hit, a palmful sufficed, stood to attention as needed, even looked mildly entertaining in a push-up bra. My boyfriend calls my boobs “raviolis,” tasty and fun, but tiny and filled with fat. I found this charming until I didn’t. My aunt had a boob job, per her ex-husband’s request. Let’s call hiMark—they’re always called Mark. He was a prison guard—they’re always a guard. After she healed, her boobs went rock solid. My face crushed into them, used to pillows, received bricks. Then, she had breast cancer. She thought she could fight off the cancer; her boob job would save her. She wept when they took (what I assumed to be) balloons from her chest. Then the second boob job. I found this disgusting. Piecing together a body that wasn’t meant to be. A body that formed tumors, telling her, please leave us alone. I was in middle school, two-hundred pounds. She was in her forties, maybe a hundred pounds, addicted to painkillers after boob job number two. My mom suggested 5k walks for breast cancer, bake sales to raise awareness, Auntie said, no thank you, we’re actually going to file for bankruptcy and go to Hawaii. Mark was raised in Hawaii, an army brat. They kept the house at seventy eight degrees, specifically. They wore shorts and Hollister tank tops in the middle of an Eastern Washington cold snap.

Now, I want a boob job. I want to travel to Hawaii. I finally have the body for shorts and Hollister tank tops. All of my middle school secret desires are coming to a head, and yet I’m unhappy in my body, or more accurately, in my skin. I’ve lost over 120 pounds in the past four years, some gradually, but the last 60 pounds was all this past year. After finding out I’m a type II diabetic, I got to work. I cut out carbs; I lifted weights; I went on nightly walks; I attempted to run but my feet and my boobs and my mind hated it. I worked on my stress levels, sometimes successfully, sometimes terribly. I cried at night, afraid my fat would smother me. Slowly, after changing my diet and gaining muscle, the fat melted, and so did my skin. I saw my hip bones for the first time: pointy little bastards. The scale would often stick at 170, 168, 172, 169, but my jeans fell to mid thigh. I liked this. Until my tummy skin didn’t snap around my abs.

Soon the scale said 150: mine and my doctors goal. Holy shit I haven’t been this small since age nine. Even in a pandemic, I inched down to 140. In fact, I look skinny, and healthy, and strong. But I have to pull aside my arm skin to show my defined muscles. I have yoga shoulders, and a trim waist. Muscular calves and thighs, traversed with varicose veins and bruising. Feet that swell in the mornings, and sometimes tingle at night, but are taut around muscle. I work out every day for my blood sugar to still be whack, to still eat at my little veins?

I can hold a plank, traditional, weighted, side, you name it; but still, my tummy, at least the skin of my old one, hangs below my pubic line. I want to take scissors to the skin, chop, chop, like split ends.

My boyfriend and I were doing long distance for most of my weight loss. When we reunited he said, You’re tiny! At 160, he was proud; 150, he was impressed; at 140 he said where did my girl go? I had to tell him to stop playing with the excess, to appreciate my muscles—I worked damn hard for them. I constantly ask him if I’m pretty, and model for him in a tight dress; the skin molds well. He once confessed my body changing has been hard for him. I said I understand, it’s hard for me too. I told my friends and therapists this, we all said fuck that guy. The next day I pulled a Stephanie Tanner, threw out a How Rude. He profusely apologized—said he failed me. Somehow, I comforted him.
But I did think of my boobs, hanging over him during sex. Literally pulled down by gravity, shrunken from a C to an A. Stretched out, with the marks to prove it, flaccid, empty, no fat left in sight. When I’m laying down, they flow into my armpits, the nipples tucked away.
The next day he started squeezing my booty, showing love to the other assets society says we should lust for. My boob man evolved into an ass man for the sake of our relationship. Our sex turned into a get on your stomach, spooning shoulder kisses, marks up and down my back.
I talk to my boyfriend about a boob job. He scrunches up his nose but I think secretly, he likes it. He says he likes my boobs, but I notice. I notice it in myself, when I stick out my butt as we walk up the stairs to the bedroom. What I really notice is that I’m trying to drastically change my body, just like my aunt, for a semblance of happiness with no warranty.

Casey Canright is a nonfiction writer working on a memoir about instant gratification. She holds a BA from The Evergreen State College and an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. Her work has appeared in Inkwell and Porridge Magazine.

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