How I Learned To Love My Small Breasts
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!
Featured image by Shutterstock
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
If you’ve ever wondered what type of mindset it takes to reach icon status like Oprah Winfrey, it’s probably best to start by knowing which one she’s managed to avoid over her long-standing career.
And let’s just say imposter syndrome didn’t make the cut.
While promoting her new book, Build the Life You Want: The Art and Science of Getting Happier, with her co-author Arthur C. Brooks, Oprah shared in an interview with People that when it comes to imposter syndrome, it’s one emotion she hasn’t experienced.
"I don't have any of that imposter feelings that so many people have," she says. "I didn't even understand it, I had to look it up."
According to the acclaimed talk-show host and media mogul, she attributes this to her early life experiences, specifically the impact of her father's influence as a child. "I remember as a young girl being a strong orator in the national competition for speaking and winning the local championships, then the state championships. And then placing, I think it was No. 3 or something, in the nationals," Winfrey shares.
"And I remember after every contest, the families whose kids were just in the contest were going to celebrate and their families were all excited. My father's thing was, 'Get your coat.'"
She continues, "I learned, in all these years, every exciting thing that would happen to me it was always, that's good, get your coat. Get your coat. I don't know if that was ingrained in my personality or I just learned that nobody's going to be excited about it, so you might as well just get your coat and go. I don't have high highs and I don't have low lows. Which is a good thing, because no matter what I'm going through, I know I'm going to come out of it and be okay."
Impostor syndrome, also known as impostor phenomenon, is a psychological perspective of persistent self-doubt and the feeling of being a fraud despite evidence of one's competence, skills, or accomplishments. People experiencing imposter syndrome often believe that their success is due to luck or external factors rather than their own abilities and fear that others will eventually discover that they are not as capable or knowledgeable as they appear to be.
With over 40 years of accolades and history-making impact, it’s clear that Winfrey doesn’t shy away from the fact that her success is due to her hard work and diligence, with everything in her life being that of what she earned — which she finds deep value in: “the ability to live in the space of true appreciation for a life, not just well lived, but well-earned."
From coming from the lineage of an enslaved great-grandfather who earned 80 acres of land in exchange for labor, to becoming the first Black woman billionaire in the world without the foundation of generational wealth, Winfrey beams proudly at her ability to shift her and her family’s legacy for the better.
"I didn't have a grandfather, a great-grandfather who could give me land. But now...I am able to have my own and to know that I work for it. And it wasn't a husband that did it. It wasn't a brother or an uncle, or whatever did it, but I did it," Winfrey says.
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