Once, many years ago, my best friends banded together to try to teach me how to take an attractive nude selfie. It was fun, but disastrous—I couldn't manage a single photo that wasn't inadvertently hilarious at best or, at worst, horrifyingly unflattering. So I resigned myself to the fact that I would never be the kind of person who sends naked pics to her boyfriend. That all changed recently, however, and I'm crediting the transformation to something I tried against my beauty editor's advice: CoolSculpting.
If you're looking for one of my many stories that preach self-love above all else, this isn't it. This is, instead, about how I wanted to feel better about the way I look naked by actually looking better naked. I continue to work daily on accepting myself as I am (all bodies are beautiful!), but I'm a human woman who's been inundated with images of perfect-looking women since birth and, you know, the struggle is real.
I used to be heavier than I am now, which means I have residual, um, depleted fat rolls (disclaimer: This is definitely not the actual term) around my midsection. Living in Los Angeles as I do—where every girl I know miraculously has a perfect stomach—this tummy flaw has made me extremely self-conscious in bathing-suit or nude situations. That's an understatement—I've hated the way I look without my clothes on for at least ten years now and will do anything to avoid being nude or semi-nude in front of others (swimsuit cover-ups, dim lighting, etc.). Sad, but nonetheless true.
"My belly button has been kinda squished for as long as I can remember."
Maybe I could've worked out like crazy in order to do something organically to help my situation, but I'm not entirely certain even the most dedicated fitness routine would make a difference. My stomach is definitely the area of my body where I gain weight most readily, and when you couple stored pounds with stretched-out skin, well, it's just never been a pretty picture, no matter how many crunches I've done. My belly button has been kinda squished for as long as I can remember.
So, when a friend tells me Coolsculpting actually works, I'm intrigued. "It gets rid of the fat in your problem areas, and [the fat] never comes back to that spot again," she tells me. I then do absolutely zero research before signing on for a treatment, despite protests from TZR's beauty director, who warns me she knows of someone who was badly bruised by it. That's how eager I am to love my body—finally—well into my 30s.
If I had done research, I would've learned the following. According to DMH Aesthetics, an LA-based clinic that has performed more than 30,000 treatments, "CoolSculpting is the only FDA-cleared non-surgical fat-reduction treatment that uses controlled cooling to eliminate stubborn fat. Through a process called Cryolipolysis, the CoolSculpting procedure safely delivers precisely controlled cooling to gently and effectively target the fat cells underneath the skin while leaving the skin itself unaffected. Over the next 90 days, your body naturally processes the fat and eliminates the dead cells."
I've heard a rumor the fat then shows up in places you've never gained weight before, which alarms me, but not enough to stop me from undergoing treatment. Perhaps, I think, it will go to my boobs! According to DMH, this rumor is nonsense anyway. "We all have a set number of fat cells in our body. Losing or gaining weight generally does not increase or decrease the number of fat cells, it increases or decreases the size of the fat cells. Since the treated fat cells are permanently eliminated from the body, they cannot come back or migrate to another area of the body."
Photo: Getty Images
The day of the treatment, I am exactly zero percent nervous. After all, I trust the friend who recommended the treatment to me and (don't tell our beauty director) assume the bruised woman was an urban myth; however, I soon learn Beyonce's song "Pretty Hurts" may have been about CoolSculpting. I am not exaggerating when I say I've never felt pain like this in my entire life. I shed all dignity and cry out in agony as the machine does its work. The nurses hold my hands, offer me this little zapper that's supposed to distract you from pain and tell me they think we should maybe quit halfway through and do the other half of my stomach another day. I gratefully accept the offer, even if it means I have to come back for another session or risk having a lopsided stomach.
Before you close the browser window in which you were researching CoolSculpting services near you, I have since spoken to many people who've undergone the treatment and experienced no pain at all. I'm told it varies by patient and that, perhaps, I'm just a wimp. Whatever the case, I force myself to return, but not without help from my sometimes-friend Xanax. It still hurts like h-e-double-l, but there's less panic this time, which helps make the experience more manageable.
Flash forward a couple of months, and I'm in a hotel room in Rome. I step into the bathroom to take a shower and accidentally catch myself in the mirror (something I generally try to avoid doing, especially when sans clothing). Wow, I think. I kind of like the way I look.
I then do something unthinkable for me—I snap a selfie. I'm so proud of the selfie that, devoid of a boyfriend to send it to, I instead sexually harass my best girlfriends by sending it directly to their inboxes. Most of them respond with something akin to, "Um, you're not allowed to complain about your body ever again," to which I reply, "It's CoolSculpting!"
Apparently, I'm supposed to do two to three sessions for maximum results, and I have to admit feeling greedy now that I've seen how well CoolSculpting works. I don't know if I can brave another session or two of the pain—or if my friends can handle being sent any more unsolicited nudie pics—but I do know I don't regret doing it, as I've never felt more confident as I did in that, my very first naked selfie.