I like to support my fellow xoJaners. I read xoJane frequently and comment on articles I really like. I love to give credit where credit is due. What more can I say? I’m a Sagittarius, more of a back slapper than a back stabber. One particular piece that caught my eye was Marci’s post about her nipple shame
brought on by every girl’s favorite spiral-of-shame-inspo doll Barbie. But honestly, I couldn’t even get past the title before shouting, “At least you have nipples, Marci!” at my laptop screen.
Let me explain.
I was a scrawny and lanky little thing growing up. Not in the cute way. I was also kind of a late bloomer and middle school was not my moment. While tween girls in my 6th grade class were exchanging tampons and bragging about bra-sizes, I still had no idea what the hell a training bra was and what it was supposed to do. Like, how does it train your boobs? Does it work like a work out? Does it magically make your boobs grow, and if so, then why won’t my mom get me one?
“Because you don’t need one yet. Look how flat you are!”
I did get a training bra eventually and when my boobs finally came in one summer night between middle and high school (I’m not sure if the training bra was directly related or not), it didn’t take long for me to realize that mine had something missing. While secretly watching Skinemax while my parents were upstairs in their bedroom (that’s how everyone learned what sex was, right?), and one particularly … um … nipplely (?) actress took her shirt off, I looked down my own shirt and thought to myself, “OK. Where are the rest of them?”
But it wasn’t just the actresses on late night softcore porn that had something I lacked. It seemed like women portrayed in art, on film and in music videos all had pointy nipples. No one’s nipples looked like mine.
Let me explain.
My breasts themselves were/are pretty filled out, but my nipples are kind of flat. They blend in with my small areolas (which are also pale and about the size of a quarter) and sometimes, like when it’s cold or if I’m turned on, they shrink in. There are times when they stick out, but barely. And sometimes one goes in and one sticks out so that it looks like my breasts are in mid wink.
My nipples are very unpredictable. They do what they want.
“Your nipples are just inverted,” said my pediatrician. “I wouldn’t worry about it. It’s rare but totally normal.”
“Mine were like yours, too,” my mom tried to comfort me, “They’ll pop out when you have a baby and start breastfeeding.”
I tried to understand but all I could think was, “Oh, so that’s whose fault it is. Thanks, mom’s inverted nipples gene.”
But the real reason why I was so freaked out and mortified by my own nipples, or lack thereof, was the thought of taking my shirt off in front of a guy and watching his face become perplexed by my weird boobs. Worse, what if he pointed out that they looked strange? I was terrified that I looked different from other girls, and like, in a bad way.
In actuality, most of the dudes I’ve been with have never said anything about my breasts aside from how round, proportionate and perky they were.
“Don’t they look different to you?” I asked my boyfriend while straddling him in my dorm room.
“They look like nice. What do you want me to say?” he asked.
“You don’t think they look different or odd?”
“What do they look like to you?”
“Good? They look good.”
I was relieved. My inverted nipples had gone unnoticed. No one ever brought them up and my breasts never heard a complaint -– not even in mid-wink.
Well, almost never. The day finally came. My worst nightmare about a man pointing out my insubordinate nipples finally came to life.
I was dating a guy a few years ago and while we were lying in his bed one morning he kissed me and said, “I like that your nipples are inverted. I’ve never seen that before. It’s really quirky.”
Um. What? Did you just say my nipples were “quirky?” They’re not Zooey Deschanel.
I wish I had said that. But I didn’t. I was in shock and embarrassed and all I could do was smile and let him kiss me again. Even though I was uncomfortable by how easy it was for him to point out something that I was so insecure about, I knew he didn’t mean to do it as a slight. How would he know that this was a particular insecurity of mine? I kissed him back.
I had survived my mortification, but not because he liked them, because I realized I didn’t need his opinion of my rogue nipples. They were a part of me and that was that.
I’ve grown to love my rebel nipples. They match my personality: unpredictable, untamed and never what you expect. When it’s cold, I sometimes like to peek in and see what they are up to. Are they hiding? Are they peeking out? Are they winking?
No, I’m kidding. I actually don’t give my nipples that much thought anymore. They’re like there, just chilling. It’s funny how you get these ridiculous insecurities when you’re younger that seem to eclipse your whole big picture view of yourself, when, in fact, and in retrospect, those insecurities seem so silly. They’re just nipples and they’re pretty cool, you know, no matter if they’re normal or renegade.
So, anyone else have rebel nips? Let’s all bond in the comments section.