Headlights, bazongas, baby-feeders, titties, jugs, knockers, ta-tas, boobies, whatever slang term is applied, breasts have been my focus since I was a very young girl. My maternal grandmother had enormous boobs for her 5 foot frame. My Aunt Helen was even more blessed than her. My mom and my aunt had average breasts — not too big, not too small. To me, as a child, I looked at breasts with admiration and wondered what my body would look like when I started to “bloom.”
In sixth grade, with special permission slips signed, I was taught through filmstrips and a rather dry lecture, about the changes my body was about to go through. I learned about menstruation and it horrified me that I was going to bleed from “THERE.” Every month? What the hell were they thinking?! That wasn’t going to happen to me. I was also taught that I was going to grow “public” hair which I proudly came home from school and told my mother about. After her initial shock wore off, she explained it was PUBIC, not public. To this day, I’m terribly amused at the irony.
“They said my boobs are going to grow. Is that true?” I asked my mother as she bustled about the kitchen.
“Yes, it happens to all women’s bodies. Sometimes they are big, sometimes they are small, but all women grow breasts,” replied my mother matter-of-factly.
“Will I get as big as Aunt Helen?”
“Probably not,” said my mother. In retrospect, mom still feels like she lied to me that day. Unbeknownst to her at the time, she did.
My friends called me flat tire in the fifth grade because I didn’t have boobs. They made fun of my body and I let them. When my breasts started budding during my sixth grade year mom bought me my first bra, a white trainer. I felt as humiliated wearing it, as if my friends were barraging me with proof of their ideas about my body.
The first day I wore it in public, it was under a short sleeved white sweater that had little knit flowers adorning the front. I was mortified when my friend Kim Tarpley told me she knew I was wearing a bra. Up until that point, I could believe in my mind that I was a boy. When it dawned on me that I wasn’t a boy, I realized I was a girl. It was noticeable after I’d taken off my coat in the hallway outside of Mr. Martinez’s classroom.
EVERYONE COULD SEE THE BRA! I ran to the bathroom and promptly removed it, hiding the ugly white declaration of womanhood in the sleeve of my coat before entering the room where I would sit for the rest of the day in misery, terrified that someone would discover my secret.
I told my mom I was wearing the bra she bought me, but we both knew I was lying. I didn’t want to become a woman. I didn’t want to be a girl. I wanted things to stay the same. I fought against the changes in my body, ignoring what I could, telling the other girls who proudly proclaimed they’d started their periods that I had as well so I wouldn’t feel so alone. My period didn’t show up until just after my 15th birthday so I’d been lying about it for three years before I could reveal the truth.
Why did I want to be a boy at that age? How badly did I want to be a boy? I remember telling my sixth grade student teacher (I’m sure it was after a shameful boob incident) that I didn’t like being a girl.
“Why wouldn’t you want to be a girl?” She asked me gently. She had a Dorothy Hamill haircut that was coffee brown and smelled like Johnson’s Baby Shampoo. When she hugged me to her polyester blouse, I started crying. Love’s Baby Soft coated my cheeks when I’d settled enough to talk.
“I want to be a boy because boys don’t get hurt.” I sniffled. She handed me a tissue.
“What do you mean boys don’t get hurt?” She asked rubbing the comfort circle between my shoulder blades, as her face tilted towards mine in concern.
I wanted to tell her everything. I wanted to explain that girls have men that do things to them. I wanted to tell her that it happened to me. I wanted her to make it all better. I wanted her to wave a magic wand and make the changes in my body stop. I wanted to stop the clock and become the more powerful gender. I wanted to be a boy because of the horrible things I’d experienced at my father’s. I wanted to be a boy because my brothers and dad were strong and nobody could hurt them. I wanted it so badly. I wanted the freedom of running around without my shirt on in the summer sun. I wanted to love my body like I used to do.
Instead, I shook my head, sobbed some more with wadded tissues in my hands, “I don’t know.” I finally replied.
Summer came and to my horror, so did boobs. I don’t mean that I grew into my body gracefully. I went to sleep one night and woke up the next morning with boobs that Dolly Parton would be envious of in seemingly an instant. My mother recalls how horrified she felt as I grew out of bra after bra on a weekly basis. I eventually landed on DDD’s on my 5’4” frame.
Okay, so maybe it was by the beginning of 8th grade, but it really was rapid, sudden, and I felt enormously ashamed. I could no longer hide the fact that I was a girl.
No matter which shirt I wore, bathing suit, blouse, dress, I couldn’t hide them. There they were as proud as anything screaming womanhood at the top of their…well, cleavage. My Aunt Helen tried to offer advice and solace, but I just looked down and wondered where the hell my feet went. She tried to guide me to select bras that would both support my “gift” and not dig into my shoulders so badly. I didn’t want to talk about it. In retrospect, that was a pretty large elephant sitting in the room. It felt like my body had betrayed my wishes to be a boy.
I felt self-conscious because nobody, and I mean nobody, had boobs the size of mine. Or maybe it was just that I couldn’t look at another girl/woman’s body and not wonder if they hated theirs too. When a boy/man looked at me, I felt like my boobs were the only thing they saw and that their thoughts were impure. I felt like a lunch buffet in front of sex-starved men. When girls looked at me, I heard their thoughts: “SLUT! WHORE! BITCH!” My entire identity became my boobs. I hated them.
At twenty I married for the first time. To spice up our sex life, we rented a video camera and taped our intimacy for future review. When I watched what my body looked like while involved in “The Act,” I felt such shame, not because I was having sex with my husband, but because my boobs dangled down in awkward heavy teardrop shaped pendulums. I felt repulsion towards my body so strongly that I decided to have a breast reduction done.
Halloween rolled around in 1991 and while my friends were planning their sexy costumes, I was planning to reduce my boobs to a manageable size. I didn’t feel fear of going under the knife. I wasn’t worried that I could die, in fact, at that time I felt it would have been the preferable choice. I wasn’t alarmed that it took a team of professionals to talk the insurance company into paying for the surgery for my overall health. The only thing I was wanted was for my boobs to match Marilyn Monroe’s size — a C-cup. My mother and my grandmother drove down from Michigan to Indiana to take care of me when the surgery was done. They were there when I was wheeled into surgery and there when I came out.
I woke up groggy from the anesthesia. My breasts were bound to my chest with bandages and I could, no kidding, see my feet. I tried to sit up to see if that changed, but fell back immediately weakened by the residual effects. I had drains under my arms that were uncomfortable. Did I mention I could see my feet? I ached all over. It hurt to breathe, but not like when you have a cold and you’re struggling to get a lungful of air, just achy deep in my chest.
When I got home later the next day, I laid on my couch while my mom brought me lunch. By the third day, the bandages had been removed at the doctor’s office, my mom had returned home, and I got to see what they looked like for the first time.
They weren’t pretty.
I had stapled wounds that wrapped from under my arms around my chest with only a two inch gap of unmarred skin between my breasts. I had stitches around each nipple that itched so badly I thought I would go mad while healing. I had no sensation on the bottoms of my new breasts. They looked like a Frankenstein experiment gone bad. But you know what? The mutilated remains of my former boobs made me feel a sense of power.
I was no longer defined by my boobs.
I had control over my breasts. They were but a symptom of my self-loathing. For the first time since I was called a flat tire when I was in the fifth grade, I felt like I could be okay with my boobs.After that problem had been eliminated, I started tearing down other parts of me.
I realized that my boobs hadn’t been the problem at all. It was me.
I discovered that I wasn’t just my boobs or just my vagina. I wasn’t just my physical person. I was more than that. I became an “I am” kind of gal. I am a woman. I love being a woman. I love the way my body looks, wiggles, giggles, shakes, and moves when I do. I love the way my breasts fluff out my clothing. The cleavage I see when I look down makes me happy. They may not be perfect in someone else’s eyes, but they are mine. They are a part of me. They are beautiful.
My Gerber servers, holy grails, whoopee cushions, humpback whales, flying saucers, traffic stoppers, super big gulps, double whoppers, pillows, billows, Don DeLillos, soft-serve cones and armadillos, chi-chis, balloons, whatever you want to call them, my breasts are wonderful and I’m glad I’m no longer defined by them. Further, I AM glad I am a woman.
(Slang terms for breasts found in the final paragraph are found at: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=99+words+for+boobs)