A few months ago I woke up one morning in bed with this dude with whom I was having the most frustrating and confusing non-relationship in the history of ever, and he rolled over, apropos of nothing, and said, “you have the tiniest nipples I have ever seen.” Then he rolled over and started texting someone; probably a woman with a normal breast-to-nipple-to-areola ratio. Well isn’t that just exactly what I wanted to hear at eight o’clock on a Monday morning while my chest was still clutched with the panic that I might have leaked leftover vaginal goo into his crisp white sheets overnight? His tone wasn’t necessarily negative, but it wasn’t like he was fucking cooing over their miniscule adorableness, either.
It was, for all intents and purposes, a “harmless observation.” (Let’s pretend for a moment that that is a real thing that can happen.) Okay, a harmless observation made while I was still vulnerable and naked and super self-conscious about maybe having grossly snored for eight-plus hours next to a dude who’d just said he didn’t want to be in a relationship with me. Why, thank you for noticing, kind sir!Aghast, I glanced down at the crinkly chocolate chips at the bottoms (because they point down, because they graze my ankles, because they get rug burns) of my real woman tits in horror before snatching the sheet away from him and securing it snugly around my miniaturized shame, turning to face the wall and contemplate whether or not that observation was evidence of some sort of disappointment on his part. “Yeah, totally weird, right?” I managed feebly, then took back my mental apology for pretending he was someone else while he fucked me from behind.
Has this motherfucker ever met a woman before?! Has no one told him the ladybody rules? Here is what you can say about a woman’s body when she has clothes on: “You look great in that!” Or: “Wow, that fits perfectly!” Or: “Damn, I can’t wait to undress you!” Or: “No one can tell you bought that on sale!”
And here is what you can say about a woman’s body when she has her clothes off: Absolutely Nothing. Listen homie, that thing that you secretly hate about my body? Don’t worry, I hate it, too. With every fiber in my weird, fibrous breasts. And I’m the one who has to deal with its daily mockery! Every mark, every scar, every scratch, every flaw: I’ve seen it, documented it, cried over it, and tried to hide it. Would it kill you to pretend it isn’t there? Or that—brace yourself—it might make me mysterious and sexy? That morning a couple months ago, lying in bed with a dude who frequently insinuated that maybe I wasn’t quite good enough for him, stark naked and painfully self-conscious about my meat waddle and wrinkly areolas, I decided to write this list.
My Physical Imperfections: a semi-comprehensive list by Samantha Irby, a fat person with visible varicose veins.
1. Inordinately large big toe, peppered with a little sprinkling of coarse hair.
2. Missing baby toenail.
3. Mole between second and third toes.
4. Dark scar on instep from drunken flip flop accident that resulted in broken foot in 2006.
5. Remaining toenails could stand to be trimmed.
1. Large, black circular scar from cutting open my toe while shaving it, the fucking horror.
2. Giant crack on bottom of heel.
3. Yellow foot bottoms.
4. Weird raised vein on top.
At the end of every sexual relationship I never cry because I save my tears for shit like dog food commercials and reality television singing competitions, but I always want to because “that dude seemed cool with all my weird moles and dark fleshy patches and holy shit I can never show this wretched body to anyone ever again.” It’s always that first shower after the breakup when I’m lifting my tits up to rinse the crumbs from underneath that it dawns on me that now I have to go out and find another person who won’t balk at these flabby arms or whatever.
That is terrifying. Just the thought, right now sitting here at Cara’s desk working on this essay, of having to introduce my jelly to a new person who is likely to scrutinize and reject it makes me feel like an asshole. I just don’t want to do that anymore. Can’t we just lie fully clothed in bed together while holding hands and talking about how good pork belly tacos taste? I don’t want to do the “I’m sorry this is my disgusting body” apology jig ever again, nor will there ever be a time that the “just let me keep my shirt on” waltz isn’t utterly humiliating. Why must they always argue? Just let me keep this stupid long-sleeved shirt on already.
1. Dark brown leather burn from fancy-ass North Face boots three inches above ankle.
2. Dark red mark from ingrown hair on the upper inside chunk of calf.
3. Dark pinpoint scar from a mosquito bite I scratched the shit out of this summer.
4. Short, rust-colored scratch on outside calf.
5. Giant-circular-pale-bumpy-keloid-scar-thing from a bike accident when I was eight, maybe? The bike flipped over and landed on top of me and holy shit this knee is where I landed.
6. Several super gnarly-looking purple ingrown hair scars that serve as reasons one through five (yes, there are five of them!) why I am never going to shave my pubic hair down to the wood ever fucking again.
7. Dark brown inner thigh meat.
1. Long dog scratch that healed totally ugly.
2. White dog puncture wound scar on lower shin.
3. Raised cluster of purple veins on outer thigh.
4. Dark scrape on knee.
5. More dark red ingrown hair spots (no dick is worth this I promise).
6. Gross green veins
7. Shit, this leg has some leather burn, too?! Those boots are three years old!
8. Old bug bite, or zit, or something that kind of looks like a herpe.
I am covered in what my grandmother called “chocolate sprinkles” when I was too young to know what “disgusting harbingers of cancerous doom” meant. I.e., I am a moley motherfucker. You can dress it up and call them beauty marks if you want, but they are moles. And I have all of the kinds: flat scarlet ones, teeny raised dots, gnarly brown skin tags that actually get caught in shit like my zipper. You name the mole, I’ve got one somewhere. I have a giant black one in the crease where my right ass cheek connects to my thigh and I’ll just wait over here while you try to figure out how many dudes have asked, “is that something I gotta worry about?” while trying to fuck me in the ass.
Here is what the women in my family happen to be blessed with: giant asses, terrible vision, the worst teeth ever, weird, patchy thinning hair right at our rapidly graying hairlines, and a skin landscape dotted with thousands of moles. My grandma’s face looked like a giant chocolate chip cookie. When I was a kid I would sit and stare at them, willing that shit not to happen to me. Now every time I look in the fucking mirror I have nineteen new goddamned spots, and they’re always the jagged edge kind that make me think I have skin cancer but are really just harmless and gross.
Ass and Vag:
1. That butt mole.
2. It’s pretty much all supersexy large curd cottage cheese back there.
3. Scar that I got from an infected bite wound from a goddamned dude. I seriously had to be on antibiotics for two fucking weeks from a human mouth, bro.
4. Insanely large mons pubis.
5. Total baboon pussy: brown outside, neon pink inside.
6. At this point in the night it is really fragrant down there, whew! And hairy!
1. Waistband skin tag that has nearly been ripped off a dozen times due to comfortable, high-waisted mom jeans.
2. Big red birthmark on lower belly.
3. Hyperpigmented waistband shading? Is there a cute way of saying what that is?
4. Cinnamon roll.
5. Treasure trail, which is apparently not sexy if you’re a lady.
6. Streeeeeeeeeeetch marks.
7. Hyperpigmented under-boob from years of underwires holding up these jugs.
8. Same dude bit me on the goddamned back, left a mark.
9. I’m like, seven shades of yellow-brown-black up in here
10. Deep, dark shoulder grooves because these tits ain’t playing.
11. There’s hair on them!
12. My armpits are pretty dark, good thing they’re covered in silky tendrils.
1. Stretch marks is getting redundant, eh?
2. Gigantic, horrid mole that is just, barf.
3. Right arm has a cluster of red moles that look like flea bites.
4. Dark elbows covered in chicken skin.
5. Crescent moon-shaped birthmark.
6. Pale, raised scar from when I threw myself down a flight of stairs at age six as protest against accompanying my mother to the grocery store.
1. My neck is crazy hyperpigmented; it’s basically every shade in the pantone African-American skin collection, from Smokey Robinson to Amistad
2. So many moles, goodness.
3. Teenage girl acne.
4. Dry patches.
5. Oily patches.
6. Blackhead city around the nose.
7. I’m still missing that damned tooth.
8. I need braces but I’m old, so fuck it.
9. Itchy, scaly scalp that needs my constant attention.
10. Sometimes my one eye gets lazy.
11. Waxy ears, the waxiest.
12. More moles, seriously.
13. This dumb hair which omg is going gray so fast.
14. Chin whiskers.
15. Is that a hint of a moustache?
16. Meat beard.
I have dimples, though, two of them! So doesn’t that sort of cancel out all this bad stuff? No?! Not even the green-ish birthmark on my ass cheek that I missed during the initial analysis of this disgusting pre-corpse? Shit. And those scratchy elbows I left out on purpose?! Fine, then. Fuck it. Love me or don’t. High five.
Spending the night is the worst because:
Can I shit in this dude’s crib? Like, reallyshit in this dude’s actual toilet and shit? I mean, because, um, last night at dinner I ate ten ounces of medium-rare steak and some oozing, cheesy au gratin-y mashed potato thing and I couldn’t resist buttering the shit out of that cornbread and I’m pretty sure the grilled asparagus had hollandaise on it and confident women order dessert, right? To prove how progressive we are? Because we don’t want to sit there idly poking at a side salad pretending not to be starving half to death?! So I ate that entire molten chocolate flourless salted caramel tower and now it is morning and my stomach is hot/churning/gurgly and I’m pretty sure these walls are so thin that he will hear all of the disgusting grunting I’m about to do getting all of that sludge out of my body and I should have just taken a cab and gone the fuck home why am I so dumb?
It’s just so motherfucking bright. Whatever sexiness I feel at 2 a.m., shrouded in darkness, cloaked in mystery, is completely erased by the harsh light of the sun. In daylight you can see my little pencil eraser nipples and that giant red tomato splotch birthmark on my lower belly. My chin whiskers are out, can he see that shit? How much pore-minimizing, light-reflecting, wrinkle-hiding makeup did I smear on this light-colored pillowcase? Does that long hair belong to me? Did this asshole fuck someone else in the same gritty sheets I just pretended to be asleep in?!
Last Thanksgiving I woke up in the bed of a dude I thought I knew better than I actually did. He didn’t have blinds or curtains and the sun was excruciatingly bright, white hot and unforgiving. In the middle of the night I had burned my tits on the sizzling radiator trying to sneak to the bathroom because I didn’t want to fart next to him in bed and use my asshole as an alarm clock, and I glanced down to see an angry red burn streaked down the side of my boob. Dude woke up and rolled awkwardly on top of me, and I hate banging in the morning, but shit. It was fucking Thanksgiving, for Christ’s sake. I was feeling charitable. Anyway, we’re doing it missionary style, in honor of the pilgrims, and I looked up and saw two alarming things: 1. his eyes were rolling back into his head which looked so ridiculously insane and 2. there appeared to be a rather large clump of female hair trapped in his beard. And it was dangling precariously close to my face.
Sex in the Morning
Dude, I know it’s a thing. A supposedly hot thing. And if we lived in a movie it would probably be a very sexy thing that I enjoy doing with my perfectly elastic body and my vagina that smells like a new car. But in real life I am so gross at eight o’clock in the morning. And everything in the room is just so visible. I start wondering if homeboy has ever heard of a dust rag or a Swiffer cloth. Or how many technical manuals one person can own. Why this motherfucker still has a road atlas. Or if there’s anything edible in his fridge. Okay, so I’m underneath this sweaty, grunting dude watching a tangled snarl of some broad’s snatched-out weave move closer to my mouth with every thrust. I just kept counting turkeys jumping over a fence (right?) and scooting my head out of the way, thinking that if I had just gone home this wouldn’t be happening to me right now. Is it too much to ask a man to take a lint roller his sheets at the very least? If you aren’t going to wash them, is it too much to ask for you to gently shake them out on the back porch?
My Toothbrush is Not Here
And my mouth tastes like a butt. My hair stuff isn’t here, either. Why does this dude only have bars of Dial soap? Can I use that shit without my face cracking into a million pieces? Why doesn’t he have Vaseline? Or Listerine?! If I could just find a bottle of mouthwash under the sink maybe I could swish with that and use a Q-tip to scrape some of the plaque off my teeth before I have to breathe on him again. That is the worst part of the walk of shame, the tasting of last night’s dinner and some dude’s dirty balls on my breath while standing awkwardly in line at Starbucks, tongue fiddling with the grime on my teeth. And my hair needs a little water and a little leave-in otherwise it looks like scattered tumbleweeds atop my head, and all of that glancing around the bus trying to assess whether anyone has noticed or not is downright exhausting. This is the kind of stupid worry that keeps me awake at night. I am an idiot.
Re-wearing Gross Panties With the Hardened Crotch
You know, because you got super wet while you were making out in the cab on the way home and instead of thinking “I should probably rinse these soiled underpants in the sink and lay them on a towel on the radiator” when you drunkenly stumbled into his place, your brain was all “cock fuck bite me right there stick your fingers inside me ouch I can’t get my goddamned shoe off kiss me harder does he really sleep on a futon? Bite me again get your dick in my mouth right this minute.” Then your panties end up in a pile with all your other shit, slowly turning to stone overnight. That’s not just me, right? I know that shit happens to you broads, too. And in the morning when you wake up before he does so you can text your friends, while trying to find the coffee filters in his messy ass kitchen, to let them know he didn’t chop you into a dozen pieces, you remember that you don’t have pants on and then holy fucking shit, smelly petrified sexytime pantycrotch.
The Cat is Getting So Fucking Mad Right Now
I didn’t know I wasn’t going to be coming home, Helen Keller. I didn’t know that I should’ve left three scoops instead of half a scoop to compensate for the crushing guilt that’s washing over me because I’ve neglected your nighttime snack time to instead sit across from this dude who was cuter on the Internet and pretend I didn’t want to order the biggest steak on the menu and all three types of potato sides (scalloped/mashed/au gratin). I should’ve cleaned the box, too, but I was already dressed in my patented fifth date outfit (more cleavage, but with jeans so it still seems casually unslutty, and maybe some red lipstick) and I didn’t want to leave the house smelling like cat ass. So then I come home the next morning smelling like borrowed soap and Old Spice deodorant and your bitch ass is like, “Fuck. You. Look at this nice shirt I shredded in your absence. Feed me and go away again.” And I do.