Misplaced Muffin Tops, Hairy Toes and Other Body Drama
Growing up, almost every girl in my class had a copy of her very own American Girl Body Book, the large majority of which were gifted upon receiving their first periods. I was no different.
The book covered a wide array of topics from properly cleaning your lady parts, to the several stages of breast development, even how to insert a tampon without freaking out. If that wasn't enough to usher America's female youth into puberty, each tutorial was accompanied by very graphic (at least to a bunch of prudish Catholic school kids) illustrations—pubic hair, nipples and all.
Sleep over after sleep over, the book was spotted, quickly opened and poured over for hours—all of us holding back sporadic bursts of laughter out of fear that the mother in charge would take the book away. My hunch is that the moms always figured something like this would happen, but hey, if the book g0t us all talking about our changing bodies, I guess it served its purpose.
As far as body changes go, I always figured I'd go through two maybe three major changes in my life. I'd get big girl boobs after my period, even bigger boobs then sag after having a baby and, well, more sag after menopause.
But somehow every body book I read growing up seemed to skip over the part where your tight college bod goes to shit in your early 20s.
And I suppose it makes sense. The vast majority of my high school and college years were relatively active. I played soccer for most of my childhood and got into long distance running and frisbee in college. I also drank way more than I should have and considered passing on hangover breakfast and binging on vegetables for all of 2 hours "healthy eating".
By some grace of god, I carried little to no weight in my face and despite an occasional shift in sizes here and there, always boasted a relatively flat stomach.
Enter twenty three. All of a sudden, alcohol hits me like a truck. In fact, even at 26, I hardly drink anymore on account of the fact that hangovers now take weeks to recover from. My arms? Well those assholes don't stay fit unless I actually put some weights in my hands every now and again. My stomach must have gotten jealous of my thighs because it loves taking on those extra pounds when they come around.
And yet the most mind boggling saga of all came down to hair... growing out of my toes. My toes!
One afternoon on a routine visit to the grocery store, I noticed a piece of hair on my big toe. Reasonably, I assumed it was just a piece of my head hair that had fallen on my feet. So I went to casually brush it off only to find that the stubborn S.O.B. was sticking. So I leaned down, a bit more focused this time, took it between my thumb and index finger and tugged. Needless to say, it was attached to my big toe.
At first I just tweezed it. I mean, it's a fluke, right? It's one hair and, besides, bodies are weird. I've been stressed at work. I did just change my diet. No biggie.
Then without fail, a few months later, that bad boy popped right back up again. Thick, black and meaning business. But it wasn't just him, it looked like he'd whispered to all the other lingering hair follicles on my toes and decided to throw a house party in honor of his comeback. They were sprouting everywhere!
Damn. Here I was twenty three with full on Hobbit toes! Hobbit toes! And among other things, I was a middle school teacher. The thought of a student spotting one of my curly Q's and becoming the butt of every Frodo Baggins joke couldn't happen. It just couldn't!
I thought about shaving them for some time, but I could hear my mother's voice in my head encouraging me not to: "You know, Mina, once you shave something once, you'll have to shave it for the rest of your life! It'll come back three shades darker and twice as thick!"
So for months, I tried to hide my secret by tweezing and powdering my toes with foundation. Yes. I was buying make up FOR MY FEET. Yes, I could have just worn close toed shoes, but it was New Orleans in the middle of summer. If you have the opportunity to wear sandals, honey, you take it!
Well, as fate would have it, I eventually found myself out and about with no cover-up, no tweezers and shoeless on more than one occasion: pool parties, abiding by the no shoes rule in someone else's house, all kinds of events I couldn't plan for. Sure, I'd find creative ways to hide the hairs: blankets, sitting cross legged, curling my toes under...
Honestly, I'm not sure if anyone ever noticed. No one brought it up, but what reasonable adult would shout from across the room: "Hey, your toes are looking a little hairy, lady, ever think of takin' care of that?"
I don't remember when, but one morning in the shower, I decided to take the risk. I shaved every single one of my toes and threw away the remnants of my toe make-up kit in celebratory fashion.
It was swift and painless.
As is true with many things in life, we tend to add drama where drama isn't needed. Whether it's obsessing over unwanted toe hair, painfully squeezing our thighs into a pair of "someday jeans" or refusing to apply for our dream jobs until our resume makes Sara Blakely jealous.
Often times the choice is pretty simple: live with the constant fear of Hobbit toes or don't. We can either fight growing older or we can grant ourselves the grace to abide by a different set of rules.
Even if that means becoming the weird lady who shaves her toes.
Lately, life has been throwing me some curveballs. This story came to mind and gave me the kick in the butt I needed to get over myself and handle my drama. Hope it helps you too.
Oh and for the record, my mother was right. I have to shave these gnarly beasts about twice every month. Thanks biology.