the tale of one woman’s breasts
Do you remember the moment when you first became aware (or self conscious) of your body? I do. It was summer. Hot and sticky. I was probably five or six years old. I was running around the house in pink cotton panties and nothing else. A neighbor came over for coffee. No “Hi”, “How are you” etc. The first thing she said to me was, “I see your boobies!” I was mortified by that comment and to this day it’s a great discomfort for me to bare my chest. Well, thank you neighbor.
In highschool changing in the locker room was a nightmare. Heaven forbid someone would see my breasts and make another rude comment. One of my fears was, “How come you don’t have any nipples?” Yep, that was my greatest fear because everywhere I looked women who bared their breasts had nipples. Especially the girls in the change room. I thought I was deformed.
Breast exams were instituted by my doctor in my early teens. He was obviously awkward and I know now not thorough for had he found anything it would have had to have been the size of a soccer ball. Even now I stare up at the ceiling holding my breath until it’s over despite having a woman doctor.
College came. Thank goodness I took a health program otherwise I would never have seen the true variety existing in breast design. No two sets of breasts are alike. Not even in cosmetic surgery. There’s variation in nipple size, nipple color, nipple inversion or not. Breast size, shape, height, and mass. Breasts are just as varied as the people carrying them. Breast awareness programs should start at an early age, as soon as budding occurs. Why wasn’t I taught all breasts are normal and how to figure out my bra size? Why did I have to try to learn from magazines and bra boxes and still get it all wrong? It wasn’t until I worked in a retail clothing store in which they had a mini course presentation on bra fitting that I learned how to fit a bra. It’s still a complicated procedure. No wonder why so many women are walking around with the wrong kind of bra. Shouldn’t we be taught these things from an early age? By someone who actually knows what they’re talking about?
Now that I’ve gotten through the early years I’m on to the sagging years. Yes, no matter what women do, their breasts are going to sag. You can wear push up bras until you’re blue in the face but when the lights go out and the bra comes off the breasts will most certainly come down.
Have I ever thought about plastic surgery? You bet. If I had the money I’d go out there and buy myself some perky knockers. Why? Well of course my reasons are purely for comfort. They have nothing to do with appearance. I don’t like the sweat under the lower edge and I really hate how they tousle-to-and-through when they’re loose. To have firm breasts and nipples not pointing to my toes would simply be a pleasure. Wouldn’t it? (For those out there who on occasion take me too seriously, this paragraph was tongue in cheek… sort of.)
Why do I really think I’d get surgery? Well let me tell you. Couple weeks ago I was watching a movie from the eighties. Can’t remember the name but I do remember the scene in which the main characters walk through a strip bar. The women were doing their pole action. The rest of the scene was totally oblivious to me. I was focused on the women in the background (who my husband says he didn’t notice). What I noticed was the dancer’s breasts. They were small!! They were beautiful but they were small. Itty bitty compared to the blow up doll size ones we see on the Sopranos. So what am I saying…media does make a difference. It has to. We are bombarded with images constantly between billboards and television. Ever wonder why during TV intermission you may see the same commercial two or three times? During a one-hour program you might see the same commercial 20 or more times. This is because the more we see something the more it sticks with us. Advertisers know, that’s why they do it. So why on earth would all the images we see of big round breasted not affect us or the men around us? Media matters.
Will I stop watching the Sopranos? No of course not. But I’m now more aware of how what I watch may affect me. We should be teaching this to our children too. Don’t you miss the days when an actor walked into a strip joint and all you saw were the legs? You knew they were topless and didn’t need to see them to know. Shouldn’t it be about the story and not the breasts? Unless of course it’s a movie about breast exams? Then hey lets rip them all out so everyone can see the variance.
Now that I’m an adult you still won’t catch me streaking down the neighboring streets or even from the shower to bedroom. My self consciousness runs deep. Even if I had the most perfect breasts in the world you still wouldn’t see me streaking. Does it matter? No. Why did I feel the need to talk about it? Well, just maybe some other poor soul feels the same way and for some reason feels less than a woman or less than normal. Hopefully if she reads this she’ll realize “Hey, I’m ok, after all.”
Am I more comfortable than I was 10 to 15 years ago? Yes. Why? Because I know better. Because there’s now an open forum (like this) for open discussion among women. Because I’m more focused on being healthy and making it to my 40s. Breasts are nice but in the concept of my life they don’t determine whether or not the people in my life love me or not, or whether I love myself. They are just flesh after all and when I die they’re not what I’ll be remembered for. Are they what you want to be remembered for?
Do you perform a Breast Self-Exam every month? Don’t know how? Visit The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation to watch a video to learn how.
Originally published 10/10/2004 at Large & Lovely, BellaOnline.