My five year-old recently asked me how I got my large breasts. ‘Did you swallow two balloons?’ he asked.
Balloons. Heads. Balls. Cantaloupe.
My breasts have been compared to many things over the years, but how did I get them in the first place? I guess we’d have to ask a geneticist.
This is the story of my boobs, and how I am trying to learn to love them.
First things first: they are natural, don’t fluctuate much with weight, and I’ve had them since I was a pre-teen.
I remember the fast way I climbed puberty’s bra-size ladder: A, B, C, D, DD, DDD…..by the time I was 19 and working in a lingerie shop I learned I was a cup size E. Who knew?!
This was, perhaps, the only period in my life I actually loved my boobs. Maybe it was just working around bras all day and the incredible discount I got for myself. Maybe it was due to the fact that being out of high school I no longer felt like some sort of freak of nature who needed to hunch over in order to avoid stares.
I was only a teenager when I learned to feel shame for my breasts. This was societal, not a particular incident. I was taught at church that if boys saw my cleavage I was somehow responsible for their naughty thoughts. I was taught ‘modest is hottest’, but how can you hide size D breasts?
I tried. Oh, goodness, how I tried. I invested in tight sports bras and wore them over my regular bras, because the two combined created a squashing effect. I taped them down. I literally taped them down hoping to get less stares during the school day. If I wore turtle necks I had a huge ‘boob shelf’ that people would stare at, and if I wore more suitable low-cut tops, I could not conceal the ‘shameful’ cleavage.
I noticed over time how moving around the classroom or working in groups meant I would have to bend down, and bending down meant
So I tried to never bend over, constantly aware of the awkwardness of my body.
In gym class, I learned that running not only hurt like hell for someone of my body shape, but it again attracted the kind of attention I was told was my fault. So I didn’t run. I didn’t jump. I tried to avoid changing into my gym outfit (although to be fair the girls in the locker room were never mean or stared – thanks, friends).
I got a ‘D’ in gym to match to my ‘D’s.
If you knew me in high school, you are probably thinking ‘But…………’ and yes, there is a ‘but’ and something which took me decades to figure out:
Because of the tremendous attention paid to my enormous breasts, I was the first to take my top off during stupid teenage dares and car games. Red Light Green Light, anyone? If you’ve been on a limo ride with me, you’ve probably seen me topless. I did ‘flashing’ games, etc.
My adult brain realizes this was me trying to take back some control over my body.
Playing these games which involved me asking for attention felt better than the constant attention I received without asking for it.
When I had my son 5 years ago, I was determined to nurse. There was not a nursing bra in the entire state of North Dakota which fit me, but luckily some online shopping did the trick. (But have you ever tried bra shopping online? What a nightmare.)
In any case, I nursed my son for 11 months and at first would hide in bathroom stalls and sit on toilets, because nursing covers didn’t work with my by-then ‘G’ cups. I had to have at least one breast out in the open to properly feed my son. People stared and stared and stared if I did this in cafes or on playgrounds. I would basically only go places like the mall which had nursing rooms because I hated the disgusted looks I would get.
One time on a plane I had a literal stare down with a man in a suit two rows up and across from me. I always nursed on take-off and landing and even with a blanket covering the terrible act of feeding my son(sarcasm) there was always a bit of boob showing. It’s how my body is shaped. This man stared at me with vitriol and I narrowed my eyes and stared right back as my son suckled. I would not be shamed anymore, I decided. No more bathroom stalls. And I urge and encourage the normalization of the normal act of breast feeding.
When I look back on my nursing experience, I feel happy because it was special. But I also remember how hard it was to find a pump that fit my breasts. I remember how nursing accessories were usually quite unsuitable for my body shape. I remember the tapes in public.
A few years ago, I received a referral to have a breast reduction. Insurance would pay, and it would be plastic surgery, and I would no longer have to contend with these breasts I had spent years and years trying to hide. The plastic surgeon was kind; he told me he could do a good job. But then he told me I may not be able to nurse if I had another child. So I backed out, for now. But sometimes, on days when my shirt will not stay buttoned at work or when I notice I am slouching again to minimize my breasts, I will reconsider the surgery I could have gotten. I will probably get a reduction some day, for health reasons.
But for now, I am trying my best to love my G Cups, which, for the record, just don’t get smaller, despite me losing 20 pounds this spring and summer.
And I’m also trying to help those who may also have large breasts and feel like they spend too much time trying to hide their bodies. This isn’t how we are made. We aren’t made to hide. And we shouldn’t have to.
If you’re like me, you’ve tried to hide them and it just doesn’t work.
I’m trying my best to learn to love these G cups.