Hanging out with my childhood friend R takes me back to my painful adolescence: the dread, the self-consciousness, the awfulness of being a kid trapped in an adult body. It must be even worse nowadays, when there are names for the conditions that were not crystallized in words then. My daughter C and her friends are ever on the alert for nipplitis, the unseemly puckering of nipples through shirts; camel toe, the unfortunate highlighting of the crotch by certain clothing; VPL, visible panty line (which thongs were invented to address); matchy-matchiness, the impression of being overattentive to color coordination; and mom butt.
But perhaps having these terms of art makes it easier to fend off embarrassment. Could defining the enemies corral them into a manageable herd?
Late middle age is another adolescence. Only now I’m a kid trapped inside a geezer body. No matter what my gym routine, mom butt is an enduring affliction. And for a woman who’s had breast cancer, nipplitiis may be a thing of the past, but there is an additional glossary of embarrassments to be mastered: pink patch, premature hair-thinning; slumpback, shoulder-rounding caused by self-consciousness not about breasts but about breastlessness; lost-lump emergency, breast-form slippage; joining the shmoos, having a belly bigger than your chest (but not as big as your mom butt).