Let’s talk about boobies, shall we? I know, I know, it’s a delicate subject. You can try to push it down, stuff it down, or try to hide it. I’m talking about your feelings on the matter not your actual breasts, although some of us have tried to push, stuff, or hide them! I developed an unhealthy relationship with mine that started the day my innocent ten-year-old self stumbled upon a Playboy magazine lying on the ground in a spot in the woods. I was with my brother and a couple of his friends. They were all over that magazine. I heard them say things like, “Oh wow!” “Oooohhh, look at those!” “Let me see, your ugly head is in the way!” as they pushed each other around laughing like the idiots they were. I began to get curious. I wanted to take a peek, see what the fuss was about…. so I pushed my way in and took a peek. What I saw changed my life forever.
I never claimed to be the brightest child and after I tell you this story I’m sure you’ll agree. I used to watch beauty pageants with my mom. We did this as long as I can remember. We’d make some snacks and watch Miss America on the television in my parents’ bedroom. My dad and brother were downstairs – they wouldn’t be caught watching girly stuff. This was mommy and daughter time and I loved it. We would watch as all the pretty ladies floated around the stage in their beautiful gowns. I couldn’t help but notice their breasts – the way they came together in the middle. I didn’t know what cleavage was then. I thought when I grew up and got breasts they would grow together. As I got older I would try to push mine together wondering when they would start their journey inward and upward – like the girls in those pageants. Now here I was in the woods with a bunch of boys looking at this magazine with naked ladies. “They don’t grow together?!…… Oh, they don’t grow together!!!” In that moment I realized I knew nothing about the body I would soon develop. This newfound revelation only confused me more and the years to follow proved that.
I use to talk to my boobies when I was twelve. My logic was – if you can talk to plants and they grow than breasts must do the same. I came to realize my girls were deaf. I took it hard, really hard. After three solid weeks of talking to them nothing happened. No overnight miracle grow here. I tried to think of ways to get them to grow. My friend across the street already had a nice rack and here I was flat as a board. As we sat outside playing with barbies I asked her, “How did you get your breasts to grow?” She looked at me and shrugged her shoulders. “I eat a lot of peanut butter. Oh, and I sleep on my side.” “I sleep on my stomach,” I said, as I continued to fishtail “Totally Hair” barbie’s hair. Well, that’s it,” she said. “Sleep on your side.” “She was right,” I thought to myself. I was suffocating them. No wonder they wouldn’t grow. That night I started sleeping on my side. I was sure in a few weeks I would have glorious breasts. A few weeks passed and still no breasts. The frustrations mounted (no pun intended), why couldn’t I catch a breast… I mean break!
I had other issues at twelve. I still had baby fat and had not hit my growth spurt. I was an ugly duckling and in my mind having breasts would fix that. Oh, how little we knew at that age. When I was fifteen I was tall and thin. Turn me sideways and I was gone. I had a friend who would visit her dad in the summer and spend a lot of time at my house. She had the biggest breasts I had ever seen! She was proud of them too. When we went to youth functions she would flirt with all the boys telling them that if she flashed them they would faint. I would follow-up with, “If I flashed you guys you’d fall over too… from laughter.” I began to realize God was playing a sick joke on me by giving me friends with huge breasts just to annoy me. I was sure God had forgotten to pack my breasts in the suitcase of life I was given. I come from an Italian heritage and I was waiting on those Sophia Loren breasts. I wanted what was due to me – big Italian breasts. Wrap a bow around them and deliver them to my front doorstep please. As I started to outgrow my teen years I began to deal with it. They weren’t growing – end of story. I even started joking about it saying how I got my mom’s nose and my dad’s boobs. Soon all the drama of adolescence disappeared into everyday life. My breasts were no longer that big of a deal. Big or small, I was still me. My mom told me not to worry; they would grow, as I got older. She told me our bodies continually change as women. We get fuller, curvier. I rolled my eyes then, but she was right.
Now as I sit here typing this I realize I still think about my breasts a lot… but now for totally different reasons. My mother passed away from breast cancer in 2009. Suddenly all those years of wanting breasts disappeared. Suddenly, I hated my breasts and was scared of them at the same time. The very thing I wanted so badly is the exact thing that took my mom away. It took me years to become friends with my breasts and now they were my enemy. Somehow, that little black dress I was finally able to fill out meant nothing. I went through a lot of emotions when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was sure it couldn’t really kill her. I was in denial all the way up until the disease took her life. The following months and years since her death I still find myself constantly checking for lumps. My doctor told me my risk of getting breast cancer is only slightly higher, as there is no previous history of it in our family, and because my mom was over 50 when she was diagnosed (she was 52). My doctor still recommends I start getting mammograms at the age of 35 as a precautionary measure (I am 32). I am constantly giving myself breast exams and checking for lumps. Ironically, I’m one of those women who have lumpy breasts – the correct term would be fibrocystic breasts. Basically, it’s like I’m carrying a sack of marbles in each breast. Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but some days it feels like it! It makes it harder to do breast exams, but I just really have to know my breasts and pay attention to any changes that seem out of the normal scope for me. They told me cutting back on my caffeine intake would help with some of the lumpiness, but no matter what I just have lumpy breasts. Really? Well, if I am still going to have marble sack boobs whether or not I cut my caffeine intake then I guess I will have my triple latte thank you very much. In all seriousness though, I am now more concerned about my breast health than how they look in a swimsuit. After my mom’s diagnosis my outlook changed. All the trivial nonsense I had about my breasts in the past was now gone. I now carry myself with the confidence of a woman who knows who she is (the breasts just come along with the package). My breasts don’t define me; they don’t make me sexier. These breasts are mine and I have learned to love them. It was a long journey to get here, but I am no longer concerned with the vanity of it. We have become bosom buddies – my breasts and me. And one day when they start to sag or get lost somewhere behind my armpits, none of that will matter, as long as they’re healthy…. as long as I’m healthy and enjoying this amazing journey called life.