I remember back in the 10th grade when two girls joked about the size of my small breasts. "What will your boyfriend play with?" They asked me maliciously while palming their own overtly abundant breasts. Their words were internalized. Even more recently, a friend of mine off-handedly referred to them as "tiny" while conversing about the kind of bras we preferred. I don't think she realized how damaging her choice of words were, but thankfully the woman in me has matured to a point where I can quiet the insecurities of the little girl who once felt like her A-cup was not enough, that small breasts made her less of a woman, and the idea that men wouldn't fantasize or lust after her petite body.
Oftentimes, it's not you who makes you feel bad about your body, it's the opinions and desires of others that you internalize to the point that it plagues your self-esteem and reopens wounds that haven't quite healed. It sucks. I can pinpoint every single time I've felt badly about my body. More times than most, it was by other women.
I don't remember exactly what age my breasts began to grow, but I remember that swollen feeling that made my chest particularly tender at the time. I remember anticipating in delight at how big of a transformation I'd hope it be in contrast to my flat, prepubescent chest. I knew a girl in my elementary school who seemed to go through her life changes at an incredibly rapid pace. Her breasts had to at least be a full C cup, and she expressed stories of how excruciating her cramps were because her period had already started. Listening to her stories made me feel behind this mature preteen.
I saw women who were older than me whose chests were different from that of a man. I wanted that. I wanted bountiful curves, but I knew my day would come. So when I felt that tenderness, as I said, I was excited. My time was here.
However, it differed completely from stories I heard from classmates who said their breasts grew overnight. I'd go to sleep and wake up relatively the same size. And in the year or two that passed, the growth was very gradual until it just stopped. I was a full A--no more, no less. I was displeased. They weren't big at all. All the stories I heard didn't match up to my own experience and I felt less than myself, less than who I was supposed to be. Of course, the very clichéd tried and true revelation of stuffing my bra became a reality for me in high school. Stuffing didn't do much, but somehow it did something for my self-esteem to appear to have shapelier breasts. It was some time after those girls made their comments to me in our math class that I started adding the extra padding, and for a while I felt better.
I wasn't too concerned about what would happen when the cat was out of the bag so to speak, because although I was interested in sex, I was nowhere near having it. For the moment it did the trick with my confidence in the way I looked. I remember the day when I got caught, though; it was the first real conversation I had with my mother. She took me to get a physical, and as the doctor was examining my breasts (bra-on mind you) my mother could see a glimpse of something white slipping out of my bra. I was mortified. Later on that day, she asked, “Why do you stuff your bra Sheriden?"
I honestly didn't know how to put it into words why, but I am grateful that the moment happened because it forced me to begin to come to terms that this was my body, and I'd have to make peace with it. We went bra shopping shortly thereafter and got bras that made me feel better about my 34A cup size. Pretty, lacy, dainty things have a way of making you feel much more at home in your body, it's an undeniable fact. I relied heavily on bras with plenty of padding to achieve the shape that I wanted.
My first love led me to falling in love with them for what they were without padding. He was my first for many things, and through his love I began to see the beauty in myself. For a long time, I was programmed to think that there was no desire or likeability in having small breasts. He proved me wrong and then some. A man doesn't necessarily care if he cares for you. I grew more confident from it. I said goodbye to padding for good, the least amount the better. I grew to love their shape, their perkiness, the way they are the perfect handful, how sensitive they are to touch, how great it feels to have them grabbed, groped, and suckled. I began to see them for what they are versus for what they aren't and found beauty in that. I no longer settled; I loved them.
I spent so much of my pubescent life being insecure because of what other women told me was wrong about myself.
I was so caught up in their perception of me that I didn't consider my own perception. Insecurities for the most part, remain dormant, usually just the slightest of whispers when doubt enters the room. However, those whispers can turn into screams given the right ammunition and for me, realizing that there were no truth to the venom-laced words I had heard throughout my teenage years granted me access to tapping into the inner confidence that was always there.
My A-cup was and is enough. It's easy to internalize all the things you feel are wrong about you, but instead of that, I challenge you to love yourself for who you are and how you are.
As cliché as it might be, everyone's already taken so why not be yourself and love yourself a little harder because of that truth? I know I've definitely learned to, and I can finally say that I'm happy with being me.
What's something about your body that you had to make peace with and learn to love? Share your experiences with me below!
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