The Breast Part

Fair warning: This is a post about my boobs.  If you are a relative or coworker or anyone who doesn’t want to hear me talk about this most wonderful body part, you have been warned.

One of the single biggest influences on my body image, whether positive or negative, is my breasts.

It might sound silly, but it is very, very true.  I don’t know if all women are especially conscious of their breasts, but I always have been.  For the longest time, they were too small (or so I thought).  Granted, I was about 14 years old when I thought this, but still, I was hyper-aware.  It is sort of awkward, conceptually, when you think about it: women have these weird mound-like protrusions from their chest.  Obviously, they serve a very important purpose (i.e., breastfeeding). But for the vast majority of our lives, we aren’t breastfeeding.  During these non-nursing times, breasts become something sort of different: sexual objects.  But I think that a lot of the way we see our breasts isn’t determined by men or sex, but by other women.

When I started high school, I remember thinking that I must be the flattest-chested girl in the entire school.  This wasn’t true at all, but my image of breasts did not fit with how I thought they should be.  This says a lot about how girls are primed, even from a young age — I was thirteen years old.  Over high school, my breasts grew at what was probably a painfully normal rate.  I felt happy with their size when I started college at 17.  I was maybe a small C cup at that point.  Since then, they’ve grown about two more sizes.  This is not what I wanted to happen, at all.  I feel like women are constantly made to understand that their bodies can be perfectly controlled, in terms of size and shape.  Breasts are a perfect example of why this is not true.

In the last four years, I have been on and off various hormones.  About two years ago, I finally settled on a birth control pill that worked well (I was only using it to control my period, headaches, acne, etc.).  After having pulmonary emboli, however, hormones are out of my life permanently.  At first I thought this would be nice and cleansing; more authentic to how my body should be.  But after a solid six months hormone-free, I have to say that I am hating it.  I have terrible acne for half the month, awful cramps and headaches, and my moods are not only terrible but unpredictable.  I cannot believe that women lived like this for thousands of years before the invention of the pill.

Whatever.  My point is that the lack of birth control hormones in my system has had another unpleasant side effect: my boobs have been growing like rabid animals.  Ugh.

It’s frustrating to feel like I reached a point where I was satisfied with my breast size and now they’re growing beyond my control.  I despise not being in control.  But that’s just the thing: I have been made to believe, all my life, that my body can be shaped and contorted and dominated like a bonsai tree. This is not the case, and it never will be; there are a million factors that play a role in determining the size and shape of all our various body parts.

So why do I let my boobs affect my self-esteem so much?  I’m constantly aware of their size; I feel like they’re awkward and too big all the time.  My younger high school self thought they were too small, making me somehow un-womanly.   There are, of course, some practical reasons for my current self-consciousness about them: plain and simple, they get in the way.  It would be so much easier to run with smaller boobs.  There are certain yoga poses where I feel like I’m being strangled by a small human sitting on my chest, until I realize that it’s really just my own breasts.

Other times, I feel like I’m being stared at by men.  I don’t think I’m imagining it.  It doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing; men ogle.  And I am so tired of it.  I am much more than whatever sexuality my breasts represent.  I think I have a nice face, too.  Is it somehow less important?

It’s a funny conundrum: my breasts are sometimes wonderful, sexual objects and are other times obnoxious, uncomfortable objects.  Depending on which side of this equation they fall on on any given day, my self-esteem is either high or low.  By no means are breasts the only determinant of my (or any other woman’s) self-esteem.  But they are a pretty big factor.  Sometimes I wish they would just go away entirely.

I am going to try to be nicer to my breasts.  After all, they do have an important purpose.  Many women would probably be thrilled to have my boobs.  I guess we want what we can’t have.  And short of a breast reduction, which I don’t think I would really want anyway, my boobs are not going to be changing much.  L (my therapist) is always trying to get me to accept things the way they are, at least in moments like this.  I think that my self-consciousness about my breasts is a moment where I need to just accept myself: that means accepting the good and the bad.  Sometimes it’s nice to get a little attention.  Other times it’s downright obnoxious.  Sometimes they make me feel very womanly.  Other times they feel big and horrible.  Overall, they are a wonderful, albeit confusing, body part over which I don’t really have control.

So be it.

Your feelings on your boobs?  How do they affect your self-esteem?

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13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. It All Changes
    Jan 05, 2011 @ 22:34:26

    I have always had large breasts from puberty. I hit puberty early and the boys noticed. Since then I’ve been self conscious about them. They got more attention than my eyes did often.

    Even after weight loss they are smaller but still large. And now they are saggy so I am super self conscious about this. I’m lucky that Hunni likes them how they are and I won’t need them for their intended purpose. But I would really love to get a reduction. I just can’t afford it or the time off I would need.

    Reply

  2. Sonia @ Master of Her Romaine
    Jan 05, 2011 @ 23:34:25

    I can definitely relate to this post…by the time I graduated hs I was also a small C…then I kept growing. I’m now a 34DD! I am also very short- just shy of 5’1″
    I have always been really self-conscious of how large my chest is in proportion to the rest of me, and I’m always buying minimizing bras and never wear low-cut anything… I have thought (though not very seriously) about getting a breast-reduction…but I know I would never do it.
    I need to take the advice I give to others about being happy that they are healthy and have normal bodies!
    I think part of my problem is that I love looking at fashion magazines and watching runway fashion shows and those girls are definitely not curvy. I also have problems finding tops that fit me well- I should be a small but can’t wear one because of my breasts but when I get medium, it’s baggy elsewhere!
    What are we to do?!

    Reply

    • caronae
      Jan 06, 2011 @ 00:06:23

      I definitely feel you — models are never curvy. There are some plus-sized models (who aren’t really plus-sized, more like size eight) who look like me, but they’re never featured. I have a similar problem with tops — mt torso is realllly long and relatively narrow and I have big boobs. A large is long enough and fits the chest, but is too wide around the waist. So annoying, lol!

      Reply

  3. Jess
    Jan 06, 2011 @ 00:27:00

    I used to want my boobs to be as small as possible (when I was more concerned with everything on my body being tiny) and now I accepted them for what they are! I’m a D, but I don’t feel like they are that big haha. I think of myself as more of a C, and I’m okay with that!

    Reply

  4. laurn
    Jan 06, 2011 @ 00:35:14

    I totally see where you’re coming from– we live in a patriarchal society that sadly, most of the times views women as nothing more than mere objecets. Is it right? Hell no. So the best I can say is to try your hardest not to buy into it. This is hard to do, especially when many things supposedly for women, such as magazines, feed us the lies as well. But you’ve just gotta do you, own your body and your boobies and accept them for what they are and love them. And if guys look at you in a demeaning way, speak up and assert your dominance! It’s so empowering. And now I feel like I’ve gone on a feminist rant that is totally off topic, so anyways…

    I’m on the other end of the spectrum and have the tiniest ant bite titties. For the longest time I hated them and was so self- conscious of them, but I’ve finally come around. Now I wouldn’t have them any other way! But it was quite the process to feel this way. So basically what I’m trying to say is, LOVE YOUR TA-TA’S, no matter the shape or size, because they’re all yours, and you are quite the special little snowflake.

    Reply

  5. Gabriela @ Une Vie Saine
    Jan 06, 2011 @ 08:28:52

    I’m pretty much flat-chested (hello A cup), and it’s so true: we want what we can’t have. I’ve beat myself up over my chest size, but I do sometimes wish they were just a cup size or two bigger. But you know what? They do their job, and they WILL do their job when I have children. My boyfriend loves my boobs (sorry if that’s an overshare for anyone reading), I’ve come to appreciate the fact that I don’t have to worry about support in bathing suits, and one day I know that I’ll be able to feed my children with them. I don’t think true femininity is tied to breast size- all women have them, and it doesn’t make anyone better or worse to have big or little ones. There are pros and cons to both.

    Thanks for being brave enough to share this- work what you’ve got girl!!

    Reply

  6. Kate
    Jan 06, 2011 @ 08:32:35

    oh man. i have had big boobs since i was about 13 and have gone thru hard core hating them phases and hard core loving them phases. i now get a small kick over how stupid men can get around a bit of cleavage. there is no part of the male body that distracts me that much when i get a tiny peak at it. my realtionship with my boobs now is pretty good. i just treat them well with good bras and correct posture. it took a long time to get there but i like it.

    Reply

  7. Sarah L.
    Jan 06, 2011 @ 11:39:34

    Hi Caronae! I can definitely relate to everything you described from going off the pill. I actually stopped taking it because I got uncomfortable about using pharmaceuticals to essentially strangle my body into submission. But acne and cramps that followed made me seriously question my decision. Then I found Meghan Telpner’s lunar hormone balancing e-guide and it has helped me a lot. It has taken months but my acne is getting better and my PMS and cramps are much less severe. I’m not sure if it’s something you’re interested in but you can check it out here: http://meghantelpner.com/shop/the-lunar-cycle-hormone-balance Thanks for always being so honest about these types of things as far too many women remain silent about their insecurities and there is no point to suffer in silence. 🙂

    Reply

  8. Fi @ sparklingsnowflake
    Jan 06, 2011 @ 13:12:32

    This is such a great post, really well written about a topic that can be awkward for some women.
    I have to say I’ve grown to like my boobs. As a teenager I was utterly convinced that the areolas around my nipples were huge and ugly. But over time they’ve become more in proportion to the rest and I guess I’ve also just gotten used to it. Overall my boobs are a little larger than I would like, a D cup at the moment, but that’s a reflection of my weight being higher than I would like. For me, the size changes in proportion with my weight generally.
    Also, hi! I’m a new reader – I followed a link on healthylivingblogs.com to get here – your blog title intrigued me! I also struggle with some mental health issues and have a blog to help me express myself/work through things, so it’s nice to find others out there too 🙂
    Caronae is such a beautiful name, I didn’t know it meant seashore until I read your ‘About’ page. I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog!
    Take care,

    xxx Fi

    Reply

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