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Old 15 May 2007, 05:17 AM
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Esprise Me Esprise Me is online now
Join Date: 02 October 2005
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 6,946

People sure are weird about belly buttons.

When I was a kid at summer day camp, all the girls changed into their swimsuits together in the girls' bathroom, and the boys changed together in the boys' bathroom (the bathrooms were single, large units without partitions.) I remember one day the innocent little angels got it into their heads to refuse entry to any girl with an "outie," because "that's gross!" Apparently, it wasn't seeing the belly button itself that grossed them out, as the girl they excluded had worn two-pieces before; it was as though letting her in would be akin to letting a boy in while they were changing. (I didn't know who Freud was at the time, but that memory came back to me when I studied the history of psychology in college.) I had to lift my shirt to prove I had an "innie" to get past the barricade. At first, I was just relieved to not be the one they were excluding, for once. Then, once I got inside and realized my friend Kimberly was outside crying, I felt horrible.

I had a taste of what a freak she must have felt like a few years later, when my older cousin was showing off her new navel ring. I thought the idea of wearing jewelry on one's stomach was teh kewlest thing evr!!! (and still do, kind of) especially since my mom wouldn't even let me pierce my ears. I asked my cousin how old you had to be to get one, and she laughed at me. She said I didn't have a normal belly button, and therefore couldn't get it pierced. She pointed to her own navel, which had a shallow depression partially obscured by a tiny fold of skin across the top. It was this fold that was pierced. My belly button didn't look like that; mine looked more like the indentation left when someone stuck a finger into a ball of Play-Doh. She said that since I didn't have that piece of skin, I could never get mine pierced. I was terribly upset, and carried the despair of having a freakishly unpiercable belly button for a long time.

Years later, I met a girl with a navel that looked almost exactly like mine--and it was pierced. She rolled her eyes when I told her what my cousin had said, and pinched up a bit of skin on her arm. "See this?" she said. "Anywhere you can do this, they can pierce. It's not (expletiving) rocket science."

I'm not sure she was right about that, but I was able to get my flap-less navel pierced at eighteen, and I've loved it ever since. When I change the barbell, I always think my unadorned stomach looks strange and naked.

I remember one other time belly buttons were a huge issue among my social circle. One night my freshman year of college, a bunch of us did several shots in a row and decided it would be a good idea to play strip poker. None of the girls was hesitant to remove her pants or top, but one insisted on keeping her navel covered. It was very weird to be sitting around in a nearly naked coeducational group of piss-drunk eighteen- and nineteen-year-olds, one of whom had cleavage, moles, and cellulite galore exposed but refused to let us see her belly button. I never did see it, and I never would have thought about it had she not been so adamant, but ever since then my curiosity was piqued. What could be so private about that ordinary little scar that she would rather cover it than her tits?
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