I Kissed a Girl

The most surprising thing about sleeping with women was what it taught me about my own body.

two women with long hair in men's clothing
(Image credit: PhotoAlto/Laurence Mouton)

It all started 10 years ago with a drunken kiss, which quickly led to drunken sex. She was the cool, pretty receptionist at the glossy music magazine where I was interning. But after a few more heated nights together that summer, my gig ended, and so did our trysts. I initially dismissed our encounters as nothing more than clumsy, alcohol-fueled experimentation — little did I know things were going to get much more complicated.

Prior to that fateful fling, I had been straight as a ruler and extremely confident about my figure. I'd always been robust (185 pounds), and proudly so. Constant attention from men — be it coy advances or vulgar catcalls — kept me feeling like a wanted woman. I was certain that my large breasts, tiny waist, and curvaceous hips were irresistible to members of the opposite sex. These assets — in any size and shape — were just so alien and intriguing to them.

Naively, I assumed that connecting with women would feel even more comfortable, like coming home. We are wired the same, after all. But losing my lesbian virginity at 22 actually stirred up insecurities and fiercely competitive body issues I hadn't known since junior high. Given that our bodies were so similar (shapely, supple, soft), it was like having sex with a distorted mirror image of myself. Not only could I see what I looked like from a multitude of angles and positions, I also saw all of my flaws, reflected, in a sense, in hers (stretch marks, cellulite, jiggly bits). By the time we collapsed on opposite sides of the bed, I had taken enough mental notes to fill an entire spiral notebook: Keep back arched and stomach sucked in at all times; while lying down, bend legs to avoid unflattering thigh spread; whenever possible, sit upright to prevent breasts from running off in opposite directions... Scared straight by the experience, I waited another six years before kissing another woman.

Enter my first real girlfriend, Taylor. At 5'8" and 118 pounds, she looked like a black version of Shane McCutcheon, my favorite character from The L Word, in her uniform of Converse and clingy, boyish clothes. Although our television alter egos never would've hooked up on-screen (I'm more of a Joan Holloway from Mad Men), I was hopelessly captivated by her. And even though we enjoyed a passionate sex life, being intimate with her always made me feel heavy and unsexy. I so envied Taylor's nonexistent hips and delicate, dimple-free legs that I couldn't really appreciate how much she turned me on. The relationship lasted just four months.

Following our split, I decided to broaden my horizons. I embarked on Operation Goldilocks, engaging in trysts with women of all sizes. Seeing their vast array of physical flaws — love handles, razor burn, rolls, creases, scars, body acne — initially made me feel better about my own. But it was a false security. Inadvertently, I fell into an emotional abyss, ballooning up to 204 pounds, because no matter how much I appreciated my partners, I realized I still wasn't happy with myself.

Then I met Kiana. Our chemistry was instant and intense. Of course, it didn't hurt that she had the archetypical tomboy physique that I was naturally drawn to. But I felt conflicted about getting intimate with anyone so perfect. No matter how many times Kiana squeezed me tight and showered me with compliments, all I heard was, "You're sexy for a fat girl." I was afraid that things were unfolding the way they did with Taylor — that I would feel lousy about myself again. But I also felt foolish for letting my insecurities threaten to ruin a potential relationship with the loveliest suitor I'd ever encountered. And the more I shied away, the more intently she pursued me. That's when things finally started to click.

Falling in love with Kiana challenged me to confront the root of my Sapphic anxieties. Though she was initially shocked when I confessed my body issues to her, my opening up has only brought us closer. With her support and the help of a nutritionist, I've dropped 42 pounds since we started dating a year ago. And after years of struggling to fit in to the lesbian community, I feel like I'm finally finding my place. Best of all, when Kiana tells me, "Damn, babe, you look amazing," I believe her.

Would YOU Kiss a Girl?

Margeaux Watson is a writer for Entertainment Weekly and a contributor to Naked: Black Women Bare All About Their Skin, Hair, Hips, Lips, and Other Parts (Perigree).