“Ninguna teta es perfecta.”/No boob is perfect.
That’s what Erika Irusta R. tells us in the chapter “Mis Tetas” of her book Cartas Desde Mi Cuarta Propio: Colleccion 2013.
She reassures us:
…pero en el cuerpo todo es maravillosamente imperfecto. Asi que una colgara mas, otra menos. Las cuestiones de simetría pueden ser menos sutiles de lo que imaginamos. Tienen vello. Los pezones pueden ser grandes o diminutos.
(…but in our bodies everything is marvelously imperfect. One might hang more, one less. Issues of symmetry can be more subtle than what we imagine. They have hair. Nipples can be big or small).
If living on an island where everything goes has taught me anything, it’s that there is a wondrously big world of possibilities out there, especially when it comes to boobs.
Having never seen so many different types of breasts in my life, I caught myself observing them. I am fascinated. I am in awe. Not in an objectifying way. Not in a creepy way. More as a child (perhaps similar to the one I au paired for), an infant in a world being exposed to its possibilities for the first time.
For people that grew up in societies where going topless at the beach is not only allowed but expected, it is probably not an act of bravery. It just is. It’s probably not given a second thought. But for me, and by being exposed to their “toplessness” and willingness to be comfortable with themselves, no matter what their breast shape, size, color or “imperfection” is most inspiring.
This year was the first time in my life that I reached a personal level of comfortableness with my own body, and the society I was living in could match it and welcome it.
This is where you come in, Ibiza
Ibiza is a unique, absurd, and entertaining place in almost every aspect of life. While it sometimes was difficult for me to swallow or understand, I can’t deny that it is place that somehow (for almost everyone I know) makes you do things you wouldn’t normally do in your everyday environment.
For me, one of those things was going topless at a beach.
For people who did not grow up in an environment that was very hush-hush about bodies, my “journey” might seem completely trivial. I was not only conservative about my body, but even scared of it.
What I didn’t realize, even having traveled previously and having been exposed to other lifestyles, was that I was encouraging of people to do what they wanted, to be proud of their own bodies and not let anyone stand in their way…yet I didn’t let myself do the same (hypocrisy strikes again!).
But when I came to Ibiza, my perspective changed. When you see something (in this case, boobs) on daily basis, it no longer becomes taboo. It’s “normal.” And what’s even more “normal” than seeing so many boobs, is one realizing that, contrary to popular belief, there is nothing normal.
Therefore, my beach times here became the perfect storm of an accepting environment, a changed attitude to be able to shed my bikini top and enjoy my day as I wished.
“Take Your Shirt Off,” – T.Pain
The first time I took my top off, I was at Illetes in Formentera. I had gone for the weekend with an Italian friend I hadn’t met too long ago. Her open and general give-no-shits attitude served as silent encouragement for me to do what I had always wanted.
I took it off and laid on my towel. As much as I was enjoying it, I was still slightly self-conscious. As people walked by, I found myself turning over on my towel. It took me 20 minutes to stand up and walk to the water. Sweating profusely, all I really wanted was to go in the water. But I was regretting my decision and mortified by the thought of people looking at me.
I was scared of what they might possibly think. What if they thought my boobs were ugly? What if I disgusted people?
And then it hit me: it doesn’t matter.
It truly doesn’t matter.
This is my body. This is my life. I will never see these people again. And if I do, it still doesn’t matter.
How on earth could I be so deathly fearful of my own body.
I had always said “I don’t care what people think” (within reason and as long as it didn’t damage others) about so many different things in life, and most of the time, I was able to stick to them. But with the topless issue, up until this point, I was horrified about what they thought.
And when I say horrified and deathly fearful, I mean it. The only person who was ever allowed to see my breasts was my older sister, and it is because we are extremely close. No one on dance team in high school, none of my college roommates, none of my friends. And my previous boyfriend…only in the dark.
I once had to do a Samba dance performance and my afro-brazilian inspired top of my costume was difficult to put on and off, and one of my friends was helping me. We were stuck and I had to pull my arm through a strap, and I realized there was a moment where she would have no other option than to see my boobs. My heart was beating so fast, and I started sweating. I felt like perhaps I would have panic attack. Not from the performance nerves, but because one of my closest friends might somehow see my boob.
Part of my body that is mine, and is the way it is. I was so uncomfortable with myself.
So in that moment, at illetes beach, it was the first time that I truly understood what it means to be okay with myself. For the first time in my life, I felt a sense of tranquility that has never happened before.
Ghandi said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
And at that moment, I found something like a unison between those three elements.
Life After Freeing the Nipple
Since beginning to go topless, I’ve had a string of reoccurring dreams of me driving topless, but that’s beside the point. I haven’t dared do that yet, and I’m not sure I will. Right now I’m interpreting those as subconscious happiness and acceptance of my body.
In life while I’m awake, this side of the railroad tracks isn’t wrong. It’s neither good nor bad, like almost everything. It’s different. It’s more carefree. It’s easier.
It’s how I felt when I realized (after years of reading about feminism and having it make sense, but not completely understanding) that I didn’t care what people thought if I had dark leg hair. Life becomes less stressful. If you’re hot, take off your pants and put on shorts. And you don’t have to have a panic attack because you didn’t shave earlier.
Saying f-you to society feels great!
We have so much pressure on so many ends to be so many things. From the moment that I became conscious of its absurdity until the moment I finally took action to change it was long. But it’s a great feeling when you finally do it. I don’t owe anyone explanations. I don’t have to apologize to anyone, or change anything about me to fit in. I am the way I am. And that’s it.
Maybe, someone will approach me on the beach. And in a very direct (we like to say “Spanish” to generalize), non-Anglo-Saxon way, the person might say “your boobs look weird,” or “your boobs have weird shaped nipples.” And I’ll say, “yes,” but take no offense. Because they’re right. But it doesn’t mean they are putting a value statement on them, or wanting me to be afraid of them. It just means that they are telling it like it is, and I can accept it.
And it’s not to say that I’m perfect either. I still am self-conscious in certain company. I am still weary of being topless in crowded beaches or where I might see someone I know.
But it’s all part of the process, and I am very proud of myself for how far I’ve come. Erika Irusta R says,
“…si les hablo. Es posible que este viviendo un ataque de amor por mis tetas y que por ello les hable sin para en un simpático monologo. Ellas siguen mudas pero yo me siento feliz de mantener esta relación.” (Yes, I talk to them. It’s possibel that I’m living through an attack of love for my boobs and because of that I talk to them withought stopping in a funny monologue. They are still silent but I am happy maintaining this relationship).
I’m not sure I’ve reached that point yet, but with more of a conscious effect, I could get there someday.
Erika goes on to say:
“podemos amarles tal y como son o podemos ser creativas con ellas y buscar las maneras que nos acerquen a nuestros deseos. O podemos hacer ambas cosas”… (we can love them exactly how they are or we can be creative with them and look for ways that they get us closer to our desires. Or we can do both things…”
If anything, I hope that this year in Ibiza has opened up a pandora’s box of acceptance of myself and others. The liberating feeling of finally realizing that there is nothing wrong with you is one of the best accomplishments I’ve had so far.
For me, it’s triumph over all society’s damaging opinions, voices, and control. It was empowering in that for the first time, I felt in charge of my own body. And I loved it.
I hope that everyone can experience this feeling. If you even draw your own boobs and accept them for how they are, it’s still strides ahead.
Have you gone topless at a beach? What was your experience?
Do you live in Ibiza? What else did it teach you?