my mother is about to call me any minute over this photo

I started growing breasts in third grade. Having been almost a full year younger than most of my fellow third graders (thanks to a move from Massachusetts to New Hampshire the year before), I was only eight years old.

I can easily remember the awkwardness and pain of all of a sudden “blossoming” in a part of my body that had been completely flat for the first 7.75 years of my life. As one who was always on the short side, my new body part was directly in line with the edge of my classroom desk, which meant for a lot more aching than was going on already.

It’s interesting to think that as women we probably go from day to day with this part of our body settled and in tact, but yet we don’t think about the beginning stages of it all. It’s bizarre to conceive of the reality that they once “popped” and in the process hurt like hell and looked horrendous under any cotton-knit shirts. I wore a lot of Lacoste pique polos back then; I was doomed.

When my mother told me right before my 9th birthday I needed a bra, I cried for not just hours but days. I was a tomboy (hence the obscene amount of pique polos). I had been the only girl on my little league team, I had rocked a pixie cut for so long that before I started to grow boobs, I was often mistaken for a boy and I loved it. I couldn’t understand why, as a girl, I couldn’t grow up to be a professional football player. Growing boobs was just the absolute proof that I was, indeed, a girl and I couldn’t avoid it. I won’t even get into the drama that followed when I got my first period at 11. I’ll just say it involved a lot of throwing of maxi pads in the bathroom.

My mother took me to a store where we picked out a nude-colored “training” bra for my breasts that were growing at a speed that made one wonder if they were in a competition with someone else on the block. The bra, boring and blah (my first and and last nude-colored one), clipped in the front for convenience and had this very minimal lace trim that I remember quite specifically. I hated that lace trim. I thought of it as some vain attempt to soften the blow of impending womanhood, as if it were mocking me and saying: “Here, take this lace trim as our condolences on your lost childhood and an example of which all your future bras will be made.” Although all my bras that would follow would be lace (and black!), it was the attempt at an apology, a makeshift pat on the back and a missing shoulder for tears that never materialized that bothered me most. I was not ready to be a woman; I was not ready to have, well, a word my mother hates: tits.

By the time I was fourteen I was a 34C. This was also the age in which boys, having not only discovered boobs but are also dealing with their own issues like erections and fur in new places, realized that breasts have a far greater impact on them than they did in years past. When they were babies, breasts were for food; as they grew, they were interesting and foreign because they didn’t have them. However around 13 or 14, boobs take on a whole different role — they’re an aspect of sex, they’re something they have an urge to see and at which to gawk. And as the girl with the biggest rack in my class, I was all but on display at all times. Do you know how many times my bra strap was snapped by a boy in those days? Let’s just say I don’t have enough fingers to cover the amount per week and, in case you were wondering, I have all 10 fingers.

The year I graduated from high school I was a 36D and had a boyfriend who would compliment my boobs so often, it became tiresome and embarrassing. I may have been an x-large in my chest, but in the rest of my body, I was a 6. As much as I loved clothes, I stopped buying anything. It was too much of a hassle to buy shirts and dresses, and by then, although still a tomboy at heart, I wore dresses almost everyday — with Chuck Taylors on my feet, of course. The fact was that my boobs were not going away.

Between 20 and now, my weight has fluctuated with my emotional take on the world. If I’m happy, I’m on the fluffy side for my five-foot frame; if I’m sad, I drop down to a 6 or 4, but no matter what the rest of my body does, my boobs do not change in size. The only thing that has changed them is being on the Pill which, thanks to hormones, has pushed them into the DD and DDD range. With the Pill, what it came down to was DDD boobs or really bad cramps; I chose the latter. Since having gotten the IUD, things have evened out, but not has perfectly as I had hoped.

I love my boobs. As a curvy girl who will never be skinny, although they’re a bit big for me, they do work on my frame at this point in my life. And as much as I hate to admit it, I also love the attention I get from men because of them. I do not dress in provocative ways, and it’s usually only in a summer dress in mid-July that I’ve actually received compliments from men, but still it’s something. As someone who has never been comfortable with her looks (we can cover my French nose at a later date), I’ll take the passing compliments from a stranger at a bar or a male friend — gay or straight (my gays really love my boobs), any day. [tagbox tag=”breasts”]

But on the other end, I hate them too. They make shopping a bitch, they give me a back ache and the last person I was sleeping with would often point out how they were starting to sag and would eventually be to my knees. Yes, he was a prick to say that, but it was the truth. At 50, my tits will be down to my knees unless I do something cosmetically about it; and if I have kids and nurse them, well, we’re just adding to the whole gravitational pull of it all.

I feel that at 34 I should be able to love myself completely — both in and out  — but I don’t. I have a love/hate relationship with not only some of my physical assets, but my personality quirks as well. I wonder if anyone is ever completely happy with themselves, head-to-toe, day after day, hour after hour, because if someone is, I’d like to meet them and shake their hand.

I have a 36D rack that, according to the saleswoman at Victoria’s Secret last week, is actually a 36DD situation. However, as long as I can get away with it, I will squeeze myself into a single D cup and accept the asset/burden with which I was born. And if they’re down to my knees at 50, I’ll cry a bit and when you tell me to shut the hell up, I will bitch slap you with my right tit, because by then it will be easy.