I was a 36 DDD by the time I was a freshman in high school.
Bathing suit shopping was a nightmare- while my friends got to wear the cute bandeau-style tops from Victoria’s Secret, I was stuck sporting grandma-like underwire tops. The size of my boobs were a joke to many, including my friends and family. Not only was it weird to them, but as a fourteen year old girl, it was also scary having to deal with two large and unwanted bags of fat, as my doctor kindly reminded me at every checkup, on my chest. They did nothing more than crush my self-confidence, and I wanted nothing more than to hide them all the time.
The worst experience was when I went semi-formal dress shopping with my mom freshman year of high school. We went to all of my favorite stores in search of the perfect dress. As the shopping trip went on, I was slowly running out of stores to desperately tear apart looking for a dress that would just cover my chest. When not one store in the mall held the answer to my prayers, I had one of those moments that every girl feels once in a while when shopping: that gut-wrenching, ‘I hate my body, get me out of here and to my bed ASAP’ feeling. After trying on too many dresses that wouldn’t zip all the way or didn’t even cover one of my boobs, I needed the comfort of my bed and ice cream.
I ended up getting my semi-formal dress at David’s Bridal. It was a strapless black silk dress, with a thick black ribbon around the bottom of my chest to form a type of accent, however it wasn’t the endlessly glamorous dress I had imagined wearing to my semi-formal. Unfortunately, it was the only dress that fit. So, it was the dress I wore to my semi-formal, which I would later wear to my sophomore father-daughter dance because again, no other dress could be found.
Though the dress fit on both occasions, I wasn’t happy in it. Anyone that knows me knows I live for fashion, and I’m happiest when I’m sporting my best looks. I didn’t feel close to my best in that dress. After the dress incident, I gave up on dress shopping, on bathing suit shopping, even on bra shopping. I was happiest in my school uniform, because the loose-fitting polo shirt was the perfect thing to cover my chest. They were the biggest insecurity in my life (no pun intended), and it came to the point where I considered a breast reduction for a long period of time. When I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I was a 34 FF by the end of my junior year.
A FF equals a DDDDD in the bra world, just so that’s clear. I couldn’t figure out how the hell that change in size could have happened in such a short amount of time, or how that size was even possible. This called for a rush to the specialty bra store, where I predicted I would have another meltdown in the dressing room because I didn’t feel comfortable in anything. However, in the small store, I found my boob soulmate, if that’s even a thing. I met a woman with even bigger boobs than me… crazy, right?! She knew how I felt and knew how to help me. She was making jokes about her own boobs and embracing her body to the point where I wanted to be able to do that.
So, after leaving the store with properly fitting bras and bathing suits that actually flattered my seventeen year-old body, I made a conscious effort to embrace my body. I stopped caring about a small amount of cleavage because come on, there was no way I was getting around having that. I started making a conscious effort to shop for clothes that flattered my chest instead of hiding it. I finally realized: I have boobs, and like Beyoncé once said, “if you got it, flaunt it.”
I knew this change in body perception wouldn’t change the leering stares or comments from others, especially boys, but all I really cared about was the fact that my own perception of myself changed. I purchased beautiful prom dresses that flattered my boobs, and unlike my semi-formal experience, I felt beautiful and more like myself. Though it took a long way to get here, I now know and accept what my body is, for what it is, cleavage included.