A little over a year ago, I had a breast reduction.
I’ve vacillated over whether or not I would share this information in a place so clearly attached to my name. But there’s no shame in talking about our bodies, these vessels that carry us. So, fair heeding: I am writing today about something private and something uncomfortable. Please look away if it isn’t for you.
Having a breast reduction consumed my thoughts for so many years, from the time I realized the difficulties that come from having a small body and giant breasts. It made me so unhappy, but I was resigned to my life of modified yoga poses, intense backaches, and swearing off strapless dresses. Make the best of the hand you’re dealt, I’d say. It’s selfish and vain to have an elective procedure when you’re healthy. It’s not your place to alter a genetic destiny for sake of convenience. What will people say? And aren’t all plastic surgeons so sleazy? I shamed myself – deeply – into indecision.
One day, this constant monologue quit. We put so much stock in what others will think – how they will judge – when we make a change, especially one that’s outwardly detectable. But nobody did. My family cheered me on (loudly), my best friends were extra-ordinary supports, and if semi-strangers noticed, I never caught on. When I finally put the pieces into action, the most difficult part was overcoming my fear of a very real and serious elective procedure for a non-life-threatening condition.
My breast reduction was one of the best things I’ve ever done. For my health, mobility and awareness of my body – things that matter to make a good life. I spent my first 24 years partitioning my vessel from my identity, believing my body was something other than me because it restricted me. Cutting away flesh made room for so much more in my life that has nothing to do with appearance. I found a surgeon who wasn’t sleazy. Rather he was kind and upfront and generous with his immense talent. He chose plastics because it let him create the most extraordinary invisible changes for people: he reconstructed bodies to help mend all the broken things inside of them. He told me: “I’m going to change your life, Maria, not just your rack,” and I still laugh because his words are so true, if a bit crass.
Perhaps it is most significant that the experience has made me less judgmental toward others and their decisions, made with the best evidence in their hands. I’ll never know the entire story.
As with so many things, my breasts are really a way to talk about something else – action. One of my favourite bands has a really poignant lyric: “But the time is never right / No it’s never right / To step outside her life / To find what’s been lost / She’ll sleep on it tonight.” How often do we vow to change something – a behaviour, a habit, a state of mind – but keep telling ourselves that we’ll sleep on it? Make the call in the morning. Wait for a tidy January 1st, for tidy resolution.
And there we are, never stepping outside this life made up of our little decisions and their multitude effects.
This leap made me vow to grab future opportunities rough and hard, and run fast with them, and to be my own judge. To not ponder so darn much over the pros and cons and consequences that are mostly in my head.
Meyer Lemon Curd
Meyer lemons are fleeting – they come in December and January and then poof! Gone for another year. If you find a bag, as they are most often sold at the grocery store, this is the perfect use. I love the tangy curd layered with unsweetened cream, sandwiched between shortbread, or freezing cold and right off the spoon from the fridge.
Method based loosely on Alton Brown’s Lemon Curd.
5 whole, very fresh egg yolks
1 cup white sugar
5 meyer lemons, zested and juiced (yield: about 1/2 cup juice, 2 Tbsp zest)
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into pats and chilled
pinch of salt
1 medium heatproof metal bowl
1 medium saucepan
To a medium saucepan, add about one inch of water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks and sugar in medium bowl until smooth. Add meyer lemon juice and zest and whisk until very smooth and bright yellow, about a minute.
Reduce heat to low and place mixing bowl over saucepan (like a double-boiler). Whisk constantly for about 10 minutes, until the mixture is bright but mellow yellow and coats your spatula. Promptly remove from heat and add butter, stirring completely to melt after each pat. The final product should be very glossy and smooth.
Store cooled curd in a clean glass container with a layer of cling film directly on its surface. It keeps refrigerated up to two weeks.
Makes about 2 cups of curd.