According to legend, when French explorers first came across a particularly pointy range of snow-capped mountains in the Rockies, they were stunned by their towering beauty. One Frenchman saw resemblance in these mountainous majesties to certain female anatomy and exclaimed, "Tetons!", or breasts. After having seen the Grand Tetons for myself earlier this summer, I can understand how this explorer made such a connection.
But in my 16 or so years in bra-wearing, no man--French explorer, high school boyfriend, stranger on the street--gave me the once-over and was so overcome by the exquisiteness of my bosom that he felt inclined to exclaim anything positive. In fact, my post-puberty years were spent enduring unpleasant euphemisms pertaining to my small breasts. I'd get that once-over and hear terms like "mosquito bites" and "less than a handful". These were typical, although unappreciated, throughout my teenage years, long before I had developed any sense of confidence in my physique.
And as if it didn't already hurt that I had to buy severely-padded brassieres to make it appear to the general public that I was female over the age of 8, an online conversation with a friend from school one night left me feeling downright sorry for myself.
I was a junior and he was a sophomore. We knew each other from orchestra class and were conversing over AIM as we did during study breaks. We could relate to each other because we were both academic over-achievers and immersed ourselves in extra-curriculars. But on this particular night, he was struggling with acceptance of self. When he asked me via AIM what his most detractive characteristic was, I responded with, "You're far too hard on yourself. Take a moment to breathe every now and again." He seemed to agree, said he would try to learn ways to relax, and even acknowledged appreciation.
Not wanting him to feel friendly advice was a one-way street, I typed the same question back to him, figuring he would offer similar input. Instead, my instant messenger screen read, "You're breasts are too small." Choke. Gag. Can't breathe. Seriously, what the hell? My knee-jerk reaction through my typing fingers came out, "How dare you? That's not exactly something I can 'work on'!" What was worse, he was best friends with another guy from our orchestra who I so desperately wanted to date, and I got a confirmed answer from him that my breast size had been a topic of one of their conversations. I felt as if I had been run up our high school's flagpole with a sign that read: TAKE PITY UPON MY INFERIOR BREASTS.
A 16-year-old me dressed for homecoming. Had the big hair, but looked as if I still needed a training bra.
Sure, I eventually recovered from this situation and forgave my friend for what he said. But the feeling that I got from the initial blow could never be forgotten. I had to grow a tough outer shell. I needed to be comfortable in my own skin. I wasn't going to survive finding a mate if I lacked self-confidence. It was out of knowing that I was going to go through life with a flatter-than-an-ironing-board chest that I had to learn to accept the parts I had been given. This began with compiling a list of the upsides of having smaller boobs:
- They won't sag quite to the extent of their larger counterparts when gravity and old age become my enemy.
- They don't bounce (and therefore, don't hurt) when I go for a run.
- No back pain.
- No stretch marks.
- I don't have to spend a bundle purchasing special size bras.
- There's less terrain to cover during a breast examination.
- I wouldn't attract shallow guys who would only want me for my breast size.
- They wouldn't affect my golf swing. (Yeah, if only I played golf…)
After that, there was learning that my friends didn't see me as the girl with the lacking lactoids. To them, I was Vikki, Girl with Too Many Neuroses to Count But We Love Her Anyway. Next, I had to learn to buy clothing that flattered, not flattened, my upper half. This was especially tricky when buying a bathing suit. Victoria's Secret seems to think that all women who wear small bikini bottoms also have super model breasts. When my wedding day rolled around, it wasn't a question of: Do I need padding for my gown? Instead, it was more: At what size pad do I stop before it looks like I'm stuffing my top? And I was OK with having them in there because the attention was on the ceremony, not my undergarments.
Then there was recognizing that the man I married actually loves me and all my parts. Even the ones I was once so very ashamed of.
And to show the world I had a sense of humor about my chestular region ranking below average in size, I learned to makes jokes about them, like taking a quizzical glance inside my shirt while muttering, "Well, they were here just a minute ago…" or "Where have they run off to now?" I have even been known to dub them my "itty bitties", turning what I would have once considered a negative reference into a humorous one.
But now I stand at the threshold of my sixth month of pregnancy, and my boobage is becoming more than I know what to do with. Having grown from an embarrassing 34(almost)A to what feels like a whopping 36C in just a couple of months, I cannot seem to adjust quickly enough to the changes. And they're still growing. They get in the way when cross-lathering with the loofa in the shower. When food drops, it doesn't fall directly into my lap; it gets stuck in my cleavage(which, by the way, is a new word in my daily vernacular). And what's up with my underboob being able to touch the top of my pregnant belly when going sans bra? Even though I know I'm not anywhere close to the ranks of the bustiest women I know, I can finally understand and sympathize with those whose breasts must rest under their arms when crossing them and why they buy bra expanders instead of buying an entirely new bra. Growing an ample bosom comes with great responsibility.
Am I complaining about these changes? They may be a little strange to someone who is experiencing boob chafing for the first time in her life, but no complaints here. Heck, I always dreamed about what it must be like to have actual breasts that would round off the top of the hour glass in the stereotyped female figure. Except, in that same dream I'm a little taller, my skin is a lot more tan, and I have a better-looking butt than J. Lo. But hey, if it takes growing a tiny human in my womb (while being pasty white and having a butt that didn't show up until college) to experience what life is like with a bigger cup size, so be it. The inside joke around our house now is, "Look at what one tiny little sperm can do to a woman's body!"
But as the following cliche so aptly states, all good things must come to an end. I am well aware that my recently-developed pair of sweater puffs will deflate after I'm done breastfeeding our little one. I'll go back to having breasts that, upon lying down, will melt back into my body faster than two pats of butter on a hot iron skillet, which means I will not tearing up my membership card to the Itty Bitty Titty Committee. No sir. By then, they may be in need of a new club president. Until that time, I will enjoy the confidence found in my naturally augmented curves, continue to be amazed at the next size up in bras that I must purchase, and laugh when my girlfriends send me congratulatory messages for my newly-acquired chest. So to my pregnancy, I affectionately say, "Thanks for the mammaries!"