Suzanne Somers, My Nipples & Me

Suzanne Somers was just 31 years old when she changed my life.

Suzanne Somers has no idea who I am or even that she had such an impact on the unfolding of my sexual identity.

After having been breast fed until the age of 4 to ensure the prevention of separation anxiety, proper brain development and the simple fact that my grandmother pressured my mother into doing it long after she really wanted to, I developed a fetish, a fetish for breasts. And when I say fetish I don’t mean it in the Sex-and-the-City-shoe-obsession kind of way. I mean it in the hair-trigger-oh-fuck-oh-fuck-oh-fuck, near-Freudian kind of way. My mother denies the fact that her breast feeding had anything to do with my life-long pathological obsession with women’s breasts, but I have yet to find any evidence more compelling than 4 years of daily exposure. So, we’ll stick with this hypothesis.

Now back to Suzanne Somers. Some of you may recall that Suzanne Somers played Chrissy Snow on the popular sitcom Three’s Company. Suzanne was funny and she was gorgeous; she had great hair and she also really, really loved to bounce. Her tits were amazing to say the least and like many boys in their teens, I too masturbated quite uncontrollably to her big bouncing boobies and her seemingly perma-erect, ever-protruding nipples.

After Suzanne, I graduated to softcore stuff like the kind they show after 11 on Showtime. Being that my family is Mexican, we didn’t have Showtime, but once a year, every year the leaflet would come in the mail that announced the free 5-day preview. Like an early Christmas present, I reveled in all the completely tasteless displays of topless women hitchhiking, having pillow fights, washing cars, and jogging in slow motion.

I was glued to the family television every night of the free 5-day preview, one hand in the panties, the other on the remote control ready to change the channel to a somewhat less incriminating station if I heard mom’s footsteps. MTV was my favorite scapegoat because my family was not only Mexican but highly Christian and everyone knows that MTV came straight from Beelzebub himself. At the time, it seemed to me a believable (and forgivable) act of rebellion that I would be watching MTV in the dark, by myself, with the volume barely above mute and my hands down my pants at 11:30pm. I was willing to get chewed out for MTV, but if I got caught watching naked ladies dry humping I wasn’t sure what the fuck my mom would do.

I grew from a little girl into an almost-woman in the early 90s. With the exception of a few animal- print wearing brown women, Mrs. Huxtable, and some guest appearances on MASH, the ideal woman was impeccably, undeniably white. And even though I was only about 9, I somehow knew 1) that thing I was doing with my down-there was definitely something that Jesus did not like and 2) that all the gorgeous, desirable, sexy women on tv had pink nipples and I didn’t.

Softcore Showtime turned into hardcore porn and before I knew it, I was watching women getting fucked on a house with a mouse from here to Tijuana. I didn’t know quite why, but the women who were brown didn’t catch my interest. I could only cum watching the white ones.

None of this mattered much for quite some time. I had no idea that Three’s Company or Showtime or Dirty Debutantes III had affected me in any way. Until one day, when, after having grown my own big bouncy breasts, a man told me how beautiful he thought my brown nipples were. A rush of blood shot to my cheeks, and though my skin was too dark for my blush to be particularly visible, I felt the hot crimson spread violently just beneath the skin.

You see, what had developed in my mind, without my ever having suspected it, was what psychologists call cognitive dissonance: brown nipples and beautiful didn’t go together in my mind, a mind that had matured with the visual omnipresence of women who didn’t look anything like me. The word brown, the thought of my nipples being that word made me so embarrassed I wanted to cover them up right there. Because of my erotic obsession with breasts and my relentless pursuit of them on tv, in movies, and online for my own arousal, white women’s breasts and their pink nipples had left an indelible imprint on the erotic part of my brain.

Later I had a D/s relationship with someone who admitted to having to “get used to my not having the pink nipples he was used to. And he was racially mixed like me; he was used to dating white women. Another time when I was 20, I was on a train in Italy. One of the ticket takers was quite taken with my “exotic look. After having pulled out his cock ON THE TRAIN and shown me the erection that I had purportedly caused I was, well, impressed and figured I would return the favor by showing him my boobies. “Oh my God he said. “They are so big and the nipples¦ so black. And there it was again, that ridiculous, unmistakably painful blush.

Even after all I’ve told you -about the blushing and the embarrassment- the thing was, I didn’t hate my nipples or my brown skin or my almond eyes or my race or my dark hair or my anything really; well, at least not consciously. But somehow, I was horribly embarrassed of my brown nipples. Maybe I had imagined that no one would ever truly want or “prefer my brown nipples. I imagined that my partners had a hard time kissing or sucking my nipples, and that they just did it to be nice even though they were repulsed. Maybe they imagined pink nipples while they were playing with my brown ones. I felt like what I had to offer was second best.

I was a skeptic when people talked about what I considered “psychobabble about media portrayals and their detriment to body image. I had thought that it was a cop out, that the answer was too obvious. But if it was all bull shit, then why couldn’t I stop blushing?

I had thought for a very long time that if I was the victim of internalized racism that I would be able to feel it or see it, that there would be obvious symptoms, a lump in my throat, an ache in my stomach: something diagnosable. I imagined that internalized inferiority would fill me with a daily, unmistakable rage. But it didn’t. It was just there, an unchecked, unnoticed, seemingly innocuous lie through which my life, my attractions, my fetish, my nipples were being filtered.

A few years later I had the chance to visit Thailand. In search of an eye liner pencil (after a day of sweat-soaked tourism), I went into Boots, a UK owned drugstore/toiletries place. On their shelf of face creams and lotions, I found Finale Pink Nipple Cream, a cream that makes your nipples pink. Many Thai people, I imagine, have brown nipples.  This cream promised a “healthy” way to pink nipples: that pesky dark nipple skin would painlessly flake off revealing new “healthy” pink skin. Needless to say, I deeply understood the impulse of the Finale Pink Nipple Cream consumer. In the tradition of skin-bleach/skin-lightening creams that have been peddled to women of color for centuries, this cream claimed that pink nipples made the breasts (and their owner) look younger and prettier.

I wasn’t the only one who had yearned for pink nipples. I figured the nipple cream made this an official phenomenon. I found out that there are half  a dozen or more creams sold all over the world that promised to do the same thing.

Since graduate school, I’ve learned so much about how lies repeated becomes the mind’s truth. My mentors have taught me a language that I could use to articulate the reasons why my brown nipples had struck me as so alien and ugly before.

Nowadays my brown nipples seem supremely normal and sexy, as do the brown nipples of others. My fetish is liberated. I get to masturbate thinking about all shades of boobies, and my own boobies are no longer barred from my most titillating fantasies.

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