On some random Tuesday evening when I was in the fifth grade, I went to bed a flat-chested tomboy who reluctantly answered to the nickname Larry and woke up Wednesday morning half a woman. Just half because overnight my right boob had decided to grow. Not the left one, mind you, just the right side. The left one was still stuck in preadolescence, yearning for stuffed teddy bears, Roald Dahl novels and a competitive game of dodgeball. The right one had moved on to Judy Blume.
I was too young to appreciate sarcasm and irony, so I didn’t see the humor in my body moving along without me. Yet I knew this was not going to go unnoticed at school. The boys in my grade didn’t miss a thing. When we were younger, they liked to rhyme my first name with poop, but as I got better at sports, I gained their respect, resulting in my nickname needing an overhaul. Having the last name Lawrence meant Larry was the best they could come up with. They would say, “Larry can be on my team,” or, “Did you hear? Larry pitched a no-hitter.”
Being great at sports made you popular. There were only two other girls in our class who could run as fast or were as athletic as I was. We were the three most popular girls in school, until fifth grade. That’s when, all of a sudden, everyone else began developing boobs. It no longer mattered if you were athletic or smart. It seemed that your popularity grew with the size of your breasts. For me, only half of my body decided to step up with the big girls while the other half chose to stay young and immature.
This odd circumstance warranted a new nickname in the eyes of my coed teammates. I became One-boob Larry — not a clever moniker, I know, but they were in fifth grade. What could you expect? Nevertheless, it stuck, and I was humiliated. It made me self-conscious about my body, insecure about my budding femininity and has always been a thorn in my side… well, the one side, anyway.
So shamed and distraught was I that I felt the need to create a backstory. I told everyone that I had been hit with a football in the chest and the one side was swollen from this terrible incident. I figured if I feigned injury, I’d be in the clear. How could they laugh at someone who had been wounded?
Months later, the other side grew somewhat, but it was always lagging behind, like having twins where one was in the advanced class while the other was constantly being told to stay after school. Dating sucked. Boys noticed. Sometimes I would warn them before my shirt came off. One doctor suggested a reduction. Another suggested an implant. I did neither. I tried stuffing the one side with those bra cutlets for a minute in my 20s, but it just looked wrong.
I finally chose to accept both of them, equally. If they didn’t want to be equals, that was their problem. Eventually, boys stopped noticing that there was a difference, and they stopped caring. I had all but forgotten about my chestal shortcomings until I went for my first mammogram. The technician said, “You know your boobs are different sizes,” as if I hadn’t looked in a mirror in 30 years.
So it’s not always about big boobs or small boobs. It’s sometimes about lopsided when you have one of each. Not only did I learn to love my lopsided boobs, but also I’m proud of my uniqueness. I embraced the fact that I was once One-boob Larry. It made me unlike everyone else. I’ve told the story many times on my radio show over the years, and every once in awhile, a lopsided woman will call in to commiserate, but we are few and far between.
You get the hand you’re dealt, and you deal with it because nothing you do will make enough of a difference anyway. We all have imperfections. Beautiful women such as Padma Lakshmi and Tina Fey have scars, Megan Fox has clubbed fingers, and Victoria’s Secret model Karolína Kurková has no belly button. Like these women, my lopsided boobs certainly do not define me. They are merely just another aspect of my quirky life.