I got my first bra when I was nine. I didn’t need one, and wouldn’t for another four years or so, but I was in a class with girls who were older and significantly more physically developed than I and I wanted to fit in. Family members joked with me that I just needed “two peanut shells and a rubber band.” I didn’t think it was funny then, and I still don’t.
When I finally did grow breasts, they were enormous, and I didn’t know how to buy bras that fit, nor did I have anyone to help me. My family members all generally have smaller breasts, but I’m told that one of my grandmothers was “shaped like me”. That she died from breast cancer before I was born and that many of my female family members jealously made comments on my bra size wasn’t lost on me. Boys also began noticing that I had “filled out,” and it made me madly uncomfortable. I began wearing hulking sweaters and turtlenecks to hide my bountiful boobs, but I only succeeded in making myself look heavier than I was. (Which I wasn’t, but I’m not going to get into weight in this post because regardless of how much I weigh, my breasts are almost always larger than those of most women I know.) Fashions in the early 1990s were less baring than they are now, so it was easier then to cover myself with my version of “prissy-grunge” style.
Growing up in a church that discussed sex and sexuality as something that was dirty and/or unacceptable outside of the bounds of marriage didn’t help. I had a t-shirt that said “I’M NOT DOING IT!” across the front and all of the reasons why God doesn’t want anyone to have any sexy time ever unless they are married. It was way too big for me and was a crew neck, which is something gals with large chests shouldn’t sport according to What Not To Wear, so it was a double whammy for anyone trying to get a glimpse of my body.
Even now in my mid-ish thirties, I’m pretty modest. I do, on occasion, show some cleavage, but it isn’t generally on purpose. I’ve learned to dress in a more flattering ways for my body, and to be okay with showing more of my body without the worry of being judged. It still happens, though, regardless of what I wear.
While fretting about what to wear on a night out in Miami, a friend who rarely chooses to wear a bra said, “Why don’t you just wear jeans and a tank top?” It was an innocent question, because it would be fine for someone with less breast tissue to do that. “Because when I wear an outfit like that, I look like a whore,” I replied. “I need something with more coverage and structure so that people won’t think I’m interested in having sex for money or want them to come back to the trailer park with me for a rockin’ good time.”
Overheard from a friend’s husband at a party, “You know Tricia, right? Big-boobied Tricia? Married to John? She’s over there.” Or, from a friend in my neighborhood talking about her husband and those of some mutual friends, “The other night the guys were talking about who’s boobs are bigger, yours or [Name of another friend who is well-endowed].”
When I had my first child I mentioned to an acquaintance that I chose not to nurse. “WHAT? I can’t believe that? You were made to nurse babies.” Um. No. I actually don’t want to. Probably because everyone in the whole world has an opinion on my boobs. MY boobs. The ones that I don’t want to get any bigger and make me feel like more of a cow than I already do. Or was compared to by a college boyfriend. “They’re like udders,” he said.
Another friend recently had a breast augmentation. She mentioned that she needed new tops and dresses because her new breasts didn’t fit in most of her old clothes. I told her she should go with scoop and v-necks to compliment her new figure. “Oh, is that why you usually wear those? I thought you were just showing off!” I was dumbfounded. I’m not trying to make anyone feel insecure about their own breast size. I’m just trying to look as good as I can in a body that I’m learning not to loathe.
What am I supposed to do with comments like that? Feel proud? Or disgusted? Or badly for those who don’t have big breasts and that their husbands would discuss mine in front of their own wives? I’ve learned to ignore it, but it makes me realize that many (most?) women are insecure about their bodies. If they weren’t plastic surgery and particularly boob jobs wouldn’t be so popular.
But seriously, I don’t walk around talking about how flat-chested other people are or describe them by their bra size. Or how big I think your penis might be. Boobs are a pain in the neck. Literally. My back and shoulders often hurt from their weight. I sleep in a bra because I can’t stand the way it feels without one. I’m getting indentations on in my shoulders from hoisting these things up for what seems like eons. Bra and bathing suit buying is in the special order realm, and the luxury of wearing a button down shirt is unlikely. Sometimes I take off my bra and realize I’ve dropped popcorn down there. Sexy, hmm? Just saving it for a little snack later.
I’d kill for a breast reduction (And maybe a little lipo on the belly and butt area. If we’re going to do it, let’s do it right), but the recovery time and expense is a deterrent. Until the time comes for that, I’ll keep trying to love this body. And try to remember that it’s a compliment (I think) that others are interested in my mammary glands.
P.S. Yes, I’m aware there is a porn star named “Tricia Oaks.” Yes, she also has giant boobs, and no, it isn’t me. Mine are bigger than hers.