Much like being a cat lady, having small boobs is something that other women think it’s okay to mock you for, and that heterosexual men don’t actually seem to mind at all.
I love how you tied the straps of your shirt back, a woman said to me at the gym. But I guess you can do it because you have no breastesses.*
Do they even make bras in your size? my Rubensesque cousin asked, over dinner.
Clearly I’m not bitter about any of this good-natured ribbing, because I’m complaining about it years later on the internet (clearly). Yes, I’m a naturally thin person, and thereby a beneficiary of skinny privilege, which is undeniably a thing. But, to be my most eloquent self, fuck these people. I don’t have no breasts, I have small breasts, and I am not any less of a woman because of it. And yes, they do make bras in my size – which, until a month ago, was a 32A.
And then, at ripe old age of 29, I grew a full cup size – without getting pregnant or gaining weight.
Lest you envy me, let me tell you how this came about. Eight or nine months ago, I started to notice my hair thinning right above my forehead. I’ve always had thick, lustrous locks, so this came as an especially unwelcome surprise, because who wants to be balding?** At the recommendation of my dermatologist, I started using men’s Rogaine (which I only had the guts to buy at CVS because of self check-out), and I started taking a prescription medication called spironolactone. Spironolactone is no joke – its other uses include treating kidney disease and heart failure, so don’t even think of asking your doctor to hook you up just for fun because she will not do it.
Anyway, one of the side effects of spironolactone is breast growth.
(See? I told you you wouldn’t be jealous.)
After taking the pills for a few months, I thought they were looking a little bigger, but I wasn’t sure – maybe it was just some kind of reverse boob-centric body dysmorphia. Still, my bras were old and not fitting well, so I squared my tiny shoulders and went to Nordstrom to get fitted. At least in my case, the truism about most women wearing the wrong bra size held up: lo and behold, I was sporting a pair of 32 Bs.
OMG, I texted to just about every woman and gay man I’d ever met, GUESS THE FACK WHAT!!!!?????!!!!!!!!!!!!!**
I was thrilled. And still am. Which I feel conflicted about. On one hand, what’s wrong with feeling good about yourself? On the other, how deeply have I – and other women – internalized the idea that our femininity is dependent on the size of our breasts? In my case, it’s not as if my growth has been so dramatic anyway; I’m literally excited about a letter. But it makes me feel more confident in my own skin, by which I mean, Now when I’m out drinking with my friends, I try to make them all touch my tits. Which, all joking aside, only underscores for me how insecure I was about my chest before. And that makes me feel like a bad feminist.
The body positivity movement is healthy and important, to say the least. If everyone were body positive, I wouldn’t have been shamed in the first place. (Let’s be honest: if you feel good about yourself, you’re not disparaging other people.) And I might not have subconsciously accepted what these other women were saying about my body, either.
But this is where it all gets tricky, because what the latter statement implies is that my insecurities about my body are my failing. And that strikes me as both incredibly unproductive and wildly unfair.
We all read (or in my case, read and write for) The Gloss because we enjoy beauty and fashion, and we shouldn’t have to apologize for that. For me, it’s all about balance – letting myself enjoy pulling together a cute outfit or trying a cool new hairstyle, yet recognizing that I’m happiest when I derive my self worth from a variety of sources: my ethics, my accomplishments, my friendships and relationships, and so on. And I feel comfortable with that.
Yet for some reason, I haven’t yet found that same equilibrium with my body image issues. I’ve mentioned here before that during college, I briefly became addicted to exercise – a healthy impulse, taken to an unhealthy extreme. And I feel like I’m always stumbling across a new think piece about how every woman has insecurities about her body, and how we all just have to let go and embrace them. But what does that actually mean in practice? Where is the appropriate line between wanting to look your best (whatever that means to you) and accepting how you naturally look?
For now, I’m just trying to cut myself some slack. My guess is that my insecurities about my body will be with me in some form or another for the rest of my life, so why not let myself enjoy it when I’m feeling confident?
And yes, if you come out drinking with me, I will totally let you touch them.
*Yes, she said breastesses. Haha, it wasn’t mean, it was totally cute! Lolz!!!
**No one. No one wants to be balding. Various doctors deduced that this could be a side effect of the antidepressants I take or an afteraffect of having gotten a tonsillectomy three months before that (according to my dermatologist, sometimes the body responds to the trauma of surgery with hair loss, and it takes three or four months for hair to go through a full shedding cycle). I didn’t want to switch my medication, which works really well for me otherwise, especially if post-surgical trauma really was the culprit. Also, getting a tonsillectomy as an adult sucks.
***To be fair, most of my texts start this way. I’ve never met a caps lock I didn’t like.