This is a blog about making small changes and self-improvements, and right now, that’s about boobs.
As a toddler, seeing my aunt nurse my cousin, I would lift up my shirt and press my baby doll to my tiny nipples, for verisimilitude. My other cousin, seven years older than me, developed early and well, and I remember my father commenting on her breasts once. It sounds horrible to retell the tale, but he wasn’t being lascivious or untoward, he was just noting that she had grown up, and I would one day, too. Since I was an only child, my cousins were some of the only intimate exposure I had to other children. I had no one to compare myself to. I remember, finally, in high school, comparing our large acerolas with my best friend, both of us relieved that we were ‘normal’, even if the nipples of 80s and 90s movies might have made us feel that we weren’t.
My fraternal grandma brought me bra shopping. She took it upon herself, since she was a woman with large breasts and divots in her shoulders, and my mom was only a one or two hook kind of gal. My grandma explained the importance of having a few special pieces, and washing them correctly. I miss her sunburned décolletage.
I can’t think of another part of my body with which I have so much history; so much of a story. Crying in dressing rooms. Bra straps snapped by boys in the hallways. The literal sustenance of both of my babies; they gobbled the milk from my engorged breasts, larger than their heads. Frightening orbs full of power.
I had tits. That was part of my identity. I was canonically tall, I had hair that was blonde, and my breasts were pronounced and I often dressed to display them. I often displayed them without even meaning to, such is the way with large breasts.
My breasts were removed from my body in August of 2012, and there have been many attempts at trying to fashion some sort of breast replacements. I had a temporary mastectomy bra. I had tissue expanders. I had implants, and then one of my incisions burst, months after the surgery. I had more surgeries. I saw more doctors. I cried in more dressing rooms. I currently have two implants, but unlike breast augmentation, breast reconstruction is not a boob job. It’s not adding weight or fullness to natural tissue. Breast reconstruction is lumpy and asymmetrical and unlike natural breasts, your reconstruction doesn’t change with weight gain or loss. I have dealt with a great deal of dysmorphia, and it was finally time to do something about it.
I went back to the mastectomy store. I have a lot of issues with the branding and commodification of breast cancer, and this particular corner of it does not escape my ire. The place looks like a renaissance painting and an old lady beauty salon got into a fight, and nobody won. There are so many wigs. There are so many scarves. There are so many bras. Hair! Accessories! Boobs! The only three things a woman is or needs! One of the breast forms chosen for me has a little tagline on the item; almost you. I can assure you, ma’am, this is not.
I didn’t want this. I didn’t want so much of my confidence and body image attached to two bags of fat. My feminist brain is so loud right now; I can hear it screaming about gender and fatphobia and beauty standards, but then I saw my shape in my bra with my two inserts and remembered what it was like to feel like me, and I begged it to cease.
I do hate that this is drag now. My body used to be effortless, and now it involves Mrs Doubtfire-level of foundation garments. But, isn’t all that we do a bit of drag? Especially as we age? I am definitely costuming up at 44 in ways that I never thought possible at 24. These are thoughts for someone else, not a college dropout who just wants to wear shirts, man.
So, as a small improvement, I got boobs.