Since about May I have been wearing strictly sports bras. For the following reasons, A: they're way more comfortable. B: I don't feel like I'm on display when I wear them. C: they strap me down well enough that I can wear shirts I normally wouldn't be able to wear. In general I try to avoid my chestal (yes, I know that's not a word) area. I like to pretend its not really there.
I started wearing a training bra in the second grade, mostly because I was a chunky little thing, but I super hated them. At first I was too oblivious for it to bother me, but by third grade it was war against that stupid thing. It was always sticking out from the collar of my shirts and just ruining my life in general. By the fifth grade I was wearing a real life bra. My mother dragged me to the department store to be measured and I wanted to kill everyone with my eyes. At this point in my life I wanted nothing more than to be exactly like everyone else. Fat chance, I was about a foot taller and 15 pounds heavier than all of my tiny twig-like friends. I refused to let my mother check to see which bras fit best. I fumed in the dressing room and refused to look in the mirror. At that moment I hated everyone and everything. None of my flat chested, daintily framed friends had to go bra shopping. I equated having to wear a bra with being fat and I hated my body. I just wanted to be carefree and small like my friends. I wanted to wear a messenger bag slung over the middle of my chest without worrying how the other girls would make fun of me.
I refused to talk to anyone about anything to do with my changing body. I was angry a lot of the time.
It wasn't until the middle of eighth grade that most of the other girls had come into their own and it suddenly wasn't considered gross to have boobs, it was maybe even preferred. My friend's bodies finally began to resemble my own a bit more. I still refused to acknowledge any part of my own body and I felt slightly uncomfortable participating in sleepover talks about I bras and boobs and periods. I did everything I could to pretend mine didn't exist.
By the time I hit high school it wasn't such a hot topic anymore and none of the friends I had really talked about any of that. The summer before my junior year I let my mom take me bra shopping again (before that she'd buy them and leave them outside my bedroom door). A C cup seemed normal and I wasn't as embarrassed about it. I didn't really take too much time to consider my chestal area in comparison with others. I was ok with where I was. I had made progress. Or so I thought.
My sister came home from her mission about the same time I had made my sport-only habit. I was tired of not being able to wear shirts I liked that fit me everywhere but the chestal area. I love button up shirts, but if I wanted to avoid the about-to-bust-open-look or having to awkwardly re-button the buttons over my chest I had to strap myself down with a good, tight sports bra. My sister loves me and she was sick of my looking like a frumpy freak. She had made me a bet.
Every real bra I currently owned was a C cup, and I had stopped wearing them due to discomfort. I explained this to her and she said she knew what the problem was. She pushed and threatened me into Victoria's Secret (a store I never wanted to set foot in) and felt sufficiently awkward while she sat in the dressing room averting her eyes as I tried on a few different sizes. Only the last one fit. I knew it, she beamed. My heart sank.
All this time she had been convinced that I was a double D and was dying to get me into Victoria's Secret to buy bras that fit me properly. Horrified, I said no over and over. Then she made me a bet. We would go in and just try some on, if she was wrong she would leave me alone, if she was right I would let her buy me new bras. I was determined to prove her wrong. But I didn't.
As we waited in the line to check out I felt my ribs get tight and my stomach tied in knots. I focused on the floor tiles and popped my knuckles over and over. It was all I could do not to cry. I was disgusted by everyone in the place, but especially myself.
Only a few minutes later she had texted my whole family letting them in on her recent triumph. When I got home I wanted to die. I went to my room and cried.
After crying, I realized there was something wrong. All this time, nearly five years, I thought I had finally come to terms with my body and learned to accept myself the way I am. But when I considered it further, it occurred to me that I had been comfortable because a C cup was ok to have. It was "normal", even desirable. I had nothing to worry about. I had been hanging on so hard to that idea that when it didn't apply to me anymore I hated myself again.
I have always struggled with my body image but until now I thought I had it more or less under control.
My sister, seeing how distraught I was over the news tried to console me, "You know, in general when you gain weight your boobs get bigger, mine always do." I know that in her strange way she was just trying to make me feel better, but she only solidified my fear:
Only fat girls have big boobs.
That all happened last friday and I've been agonizing over it ever since. It's a hard thing to talk yourself down from. I had thought I was safe and I had been wrong. And I was utterly disappointed in myself. I wish I could say that I'm writing this because I came to find peace with it and I have some kind of insight or wisdom to share from the experience, but that's just not so.
I'm still struggling, but I'm hoping that the process of sharing my thoughts, fears and weaknesses will help me come to terms with it and be able to accept my body the way it is and not always have that hideous thought lurking in the back of my mind.