Boobs: A Love Story
Boobs. Tatas. Tits. Pillows. Call them what you want; somewhere along the way, they became complicated.
To have boobs was to be ashamed.
Second grade, Christmas break, my mother took me shopping for my first training bras and while I was standing there, the boy I had a crush on saw me: mortification. I was too young to understand what boobs or puberty was, but I knew that having bras wasn’t something every girl in my grade experienced.
A few years later, by sixth grade, one of the many not-so-flattering nicknames my bullies gave me was “Double-Ds.” I was bullied a lot, and for an endless list of reasons, but the fact that I had boobs really seemed to be cause for attack. I hated them, thinking that if they weren’t there, the other kids wouldn’t be mean to me.
Somewhere around middle school, the Purity Police (mostly at church) decided that I needed to cover up. For the next five or six years, I was told to wear t-shirts over my swimsuits at summer camp. I was scolded for wearing a tank top that was no different from the other (smaller-chested) girls’ shirts. All of the sudden, it was my responsibility to ensure (by way of covering up the shameful boobs) that the thoughts of adolescent boys were pure and chaste.. as if!
At the age of almost-16, I asked the guy I had been with for about a year why he liked me and his response was “Um, well, you have really big boobs.” Swear to God. Really? That’s it? I am smart, funny, loyal, and the best you have is “you have really big boobs?” Too insecure to see that red flag and run, I slumped my shoulders and accepted that the boobs I hated were the only thing I had to offer in a relationship.
To have boobs was to be different.
By the time I was ten years old, shopping was demoralizing because I couldn’t find *anything* that fit. It was the dawn of the heroin chic era, when waifish, emaciated-looking women stared back at me from the covers of my sister’s Cosmopolitan magazines. Clothes were made for women without curves, not ten-year-olds with a big rack, so I looked awful in everything. This didn’t help me out in my desire to escape my bullies.
Now, at the age of 32, shopping is still terrifying: three weeks ago, I panicked in a dressing room when I tried on a shirt that fit everywhere but the chest and I wondered if I was going to be able to get it off without ripping it. When getting measured for the maid of honor dress for my best friend’s wedding last month, the saleswoman winced as she said “technically, your bust measures almost three inches more than the biggest size available for the dress, but if it’s a problem, they’ll let us know.” Awesome.
To have boobs is to be broke.
My size is not available from most American manufacturers, so I have to import them from France at $137 APIECE. To put that in perspective: that’s more than HALF of a week’s pay for me.
To have boobs is to harbor potential terrorists.
I was 27 when my friend Diane, whom I had known since middle school, told me that she had breast cancer. Not too long after that, my grandmother was diagnosed with it as well. Thankfully, Diane has been cancer-free for years now, and breast cancer was not responsible for my grandmother’s death, but it doesn’t make the fear entirely go away. Given the barrage of pink commodified cancer crap flooding the shelves, I am reminded that at any moment, without any provocation, these parts of my body could turn on me and invade the rest of my body. Gulp.
So all this crap, and yet, I subtitled the post “A Love Story.” Huh?
Because here’s the thing: I’m taking them back.
I’m done being ashamed of my boobs, because there’s no reason to be ashamed! I’m done being afraid of what others are going to say about them. Other people can have opinions, and they can keep the nasty or creepy opinions to themselves. My having boobs doesn’t give anyone else license to comment on them any more than I have license to comment on their bodies.
I’m exhausted of trying to find clothes that “hide” them or don’t have words across the chest because it might draw attention – people will notice them anyways! Flattering clothes are not as easy to find, but there are some shirts and dresses that I can totally rock but look dumpy on small-chested women (sucks to be them!). It’s still kind of scary to go shopping, but my mother once told me that it’s the clothes that have to fit me instead of me feeling like I need to fit the clothes. So I’ll take a deep breath and keep hunting (note: avoid Lauren Conrad clothes at Kohl’s if you have boobs at all).
I’m through being responsible for the thoughts in someone else’s head. Men think about sex. Women think about sex. Whether or not I have boobs, those two things will remain as true as they have always been. I don’t have a lot of body-confidence, but by Jove, I’ve got boobs, and they go a long way. Someday, they’ll work to my advantage. Also: I have tiny ankles, pretty eyes, very long eyelashes, and cute little freckles on my cheeks.
I’m being as responsible as I can be with regards to breast cancer. Do your monthly exams, ladies and gentlemen! Get your mammograms (if you’re old enough and if your doctor tells you to, blah blah)! And chill the heck out, because in the end, we can’t control that anymore than we can control the orbit of Neptune.
There are things about your body that you haven’t always loved – maybe even hated at times.
I’m not going to flippantly tell you to get over it, because that would make me a raging hypocrite. What I am going to tell you is that you are worth loving. You deserve kind words from others and from yourself. Don’t let someone else trick you into believing otherwise. Take whatever it is and work on it – whether it’s learning to love ears that stick out too far or hair that is out of control or losing weight you’ve carried for decades. You deserve – we deserve – to be happy with, accept, and love ourselves. I promise.