Dear Rosencrantz and Guildenstern,
Hey friends! How are you doing? I imagine you’re both feeling pretty excellent since I removed you from your lacy prison an hour ago – we’re all benefiting from the sweet, sweet freedom of bralessness.
I guess I am writing to you guys for a couple of reasons – first, I have to apologise to you both. I’m sorry that for the first few years of our relationship I was less than impressed with your presence, or lack thereof. I sort of stumbled into puberty – there was no fanfare, no angels descending from the heavens, not even a rapid growth spurt. You guys just started sprouting from my formerly flat chest and then at some stage you kind of… stopped. And I’m not going to lie, I was disappointed – it felt like you’d given up before we’d even gotten started, that you both had so much potential but decided you were happy with sticking around the first few letters of the alphabet.
I spent most of high school in an antagonistic relationship with you guys, as well as with the rest of my body. I poked, prodded and pushed you, glaring at you in the mirror before nights out. I felt like of my many “flaws” you two were the most inconvenient – just one more cup size or two and I could work with what I had. Ros and Guil, I am sorry to say I felt you were both insufficient and a bit pointless (is there some sort of nipple pun there? I’m not sure, let’s work on it).
I am also sorry that I didn’t defend you – from the hands of foolish, arrogant boys at parties, from the stares of old men on trains, from friends who gave me sympathetic looks and recommended push up bras to help with my “small boobs and big shoulders”. None of those people gave you the respect you deserved, and I didn’t feel like you or I were worthy of it either.
All that changed during Tuesday afternoon Literature class. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, your namesakes stumbled into my life through Tom Stoppard’s ultimate spinoff play – Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Although you were just a couple of minor characters in Hamlet, in this text you were the stars, a couple of hapless dudes who liked to chat about the meaning of life and death, the relationship between stage and life and the pointlessness of decision making. The play made me giggle and sigh and think about things, but most significantly, it made me turn to my friend, and in an attempt to make her laugh, I whispered “I’m gonna name my boobs Rosencrantz and Guildenstern”.
And thus, you were christened. I made the joke a few more times – I am a firm believer in repeating jokes if they’re successful, and I was pretty pleased with that one – and suddenly you two had taken on lives of your own. You were no longer my insufficient mammaries, you were just a couple of mates – and I couldn’t be mad with or disappointed by my mates! I didn’t see you as just body parts, but truly excellent and wonderful beings. On nights out I would loudly proclaim “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are looking great tonight!” because let’s face it – you were. By giving you two names I was making friends with you, and I began looking at myself in a kinder and more compassionate way. Sometimes I wondered about the implications of naming you after a couple of dudes, but any feminist qualms were soothed by the equally feminist notion that if it made me feel good about my body, it was a good thing.
However, as you guys are probably aware, you are the only parts of my flesh to receive such an honour. My stomach, thighs, bum, arms, cheeks and legs remain nameless. I continue to poke and prod and starve and measure them, denying them the kindness I have learned to give you. In spite of all the progress I have made in the art of self-acceptance, I still can’t bring myself to view these other “problem areas” as anything other than disobedient flesh. I held onto the anger I felt towards you two and intensified it in other parts of my body. They disgust me at times, and in those moments I wonder if I will ever be able to extend to them the same olive branch I gave to you. Those feelings exhaust me, and they are part of a relentless cycle that keeps me in its grip even though I know it’s destructive. My only weapon is that I know I accomplished what seemed like an impossible feat with you two – and maybe that will be enough for me to do it again.
I want to say thank you Ros and Guil, for putting up with me and how I treated you back in the day. Thank you for teaching me that my body is not something I have to endure or put up with, but something I can celebrate and connect with, even in ways that may seem silly. In naming you, I gave myself permission to like you and enjoy you and ensure other people treated you with the respect you deserved. I’ve come a long way in learning to love my body, but sometimes I wonder if I will ever truly be at peace with it. You two were the first step, and hopefully I’ll be able to make a few more. One day, I will be able to look at my body not as a villain, but as a friend.
Lots of love,