I’m jealous of the girls who get their body issues from normal places like magazines, television shows, and from watching 85 lb. models saunter down the runway. I got mine from 5th grade.
I was in Mrs. Chamberlain’s class. Mrs. Chamberlain bit her fingernails and the tips of her fingers were always stained from where she would lick them then wipe the Vis-A-Vis marker from the overhead projector. She ate a can of Starkist tuna on pita bread every day for lunch. I didn’t like Mrs. Chamberlain. I really wanted to be in Mrs. Gray’s class. Mrs. Gray was beautiful. She had the loveliest milk-chocolate skin I’d ever seen. Her hair was always perfectly coiffed and her makeup polished, although looking back today, I think she wore too much blush. Mrs. Gray spoke softly and she always had a smile on her face, probably because she was so pretty. I always got the feeling that she knew she was pretty. Mrs. Chamberlain was not pretty. She was a woman of manly stature. Her hair was always unkempt and she didn’t wear makeup. The only color I ever saw on Mrs. Chamberlain was from the Vis-A-Vis markers. I didn’t have any friends in Mrs. Chamberlain’s class. Most of my friends were across the hall with Mrs. Gray. I felt alone and out of place. I was miserable.
But then there was Josh.
Josh was in my class and he was my only hope for surviving the fifth grade. He was the cutest boy in class. He had smooth, porcelain skin and thin, dirty blonde hair cut into the shape of a bowl. I liked Josh. I liked Josh a lot. He was very nice to me. We sat in the same “group,” as Mrs. Chamberlain had grouped the class’s desks into sets of four. We worked on projects together and always checked each others work when it was time to check a classmate’s work. Josh was my friend but Josh also gave me butterflies in my stomach so I decided to tell him.
What did I do that for?
Josh made it very clear that he did not like me like I liked him. In fact, after I revealed to Josh that I wanted to be his woman, he no longer wanted to be my friend. He let me know by telling me that I had a big nose, “like Pinocchio,” he said.
I had no clue that my nose was bigger than the average nose before Josh, the boy who gave me butterflies, made me privy to this information. My Mama certainly never told me. I was shattered. Before that moment I had no reason to believe that I was not an absolute sex goddess (regardless of how much I actually knew about sex at the time). I had no mental hang-ups about my value as a girlfriend and I was certain in my adeptness. In my mind, I was a damn deity and any 12 year old man would have been lucky to have me hold his hand at the movie theater. I had cuter earrings than the other girls in my class and I had bad-ass shoes with hieroglyphics on them (which I usually wore with leggings and an oversized sweater). I had an initial ring and a sun, moon, and stars watch. I had the highest bangs in the entire school and probably the biggest boobs. I was a knock-out!
Josh doesn’t want me to be his woman? What? Me? A big nose? Huh?
My life changed forever that day. The moment I learned I had a big nose seemed like the moment that I also started paying more attention to my thighs and my hips. My boobs suddenly became weird and the few pimples on my face were now like red aircraft warning lights flashing in the night. I no longer felt like a 5th grade sex goddess. Something was wrong with me. I was not perfect.
Years later, Josh and I became friendly again. We shared classes together in high school and had the same circle of friends. I don’t think I ever reminded him of our short lived 5th grade romance or how he broke my heart. Who knows where he is now. I haven’t seen him in probably 10 years. My guess is that he is probably married with a few children by now.
If you are out there and have a little girl and she happens to have a big nose, don’t tell her. Let the magazines, television shows, and runways do it for you. Trust me, she’ll thank you later.