Most women go through life having a tumultuous relationship with at least one body part. From around the time we hit puberty, it’s usually our hips, our boobs, our butts, our arms—whatever it is—that grows seemingly out of nowhere and causes us unmeasurable amounts of stress that last well into our twenties—sometimes even into our thirties. A lot of it (most of it) has to do with how women’s bodies are viewed in society, and, of course, that’s total bullshit, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still there and it usually takes a long time for most women to get comfortable with their bodies.
For me, it was my boobs. And chalk it up to being older and wiser and giving fewer shits than I did 20 years ago, but I’ve come full circle with actually loving them. Let’s chart the relationship, shall we?
At 28, I stand at 5’4, which is a pretty nondescript height. What most people don’t know (or don’t believe) is that I actually used to be the tall kid. I sprouted at 10 years old and was the tallest kid in my grade 5 class (back row, middle in my class photo). With that growth spurt also brought boobs. I was the first kid in my class to have them and when I moved to a new city and school in grade 6, I was instantly accused of stuffing my bra (what?) because back then having an A-cup meant that I wanted attention (I didn’t). Unsurprisingly, it made me self-conscious and I spent the better part of middle school desperately trying to hide my boobs and early entrance into “womanhood”.
After a couple rocky years in middle school, I decided not to go to the same high school as the rest of my classmates and opted for another fresh start for grade 9. Of course, by the time I was 14, most of the other girls in my school had gotten boobs as well, so it was a little easier to blend in (plus, we had uniforms so that definitely helped), but it was around grade 10 and 11 that I somehow ended up being the girl with the small boobs (oh, how times changed). I became self-conscious that no guy would want to date me because I didn’t have a big chest. Frankly, if it weren’t for the fact that I have an hourglass shape, I don’t think I would have gotten a date all through high school.
Fast forward to university and my early twenties, I still spent most of time boosting up my boobs as much as possible. Like many young women, I spent most of my part-time job earnings at Pink and Victoria’s Secret buying push-up bras to make my chest appear bigger so that guys might look at me a certain way. By the time I was 20 I had a serious boyfriend (who is now my husband) that really didn’t care what kind of bra I was wearing (because, of course, he’d seen me with it off, too), but I was still so hell-bent on looking “sexy” and a padded bra equated that for me.
Chalk it up to getting comfortable in my relationship or just comfortable in my body, but I’ve once again evolved in my relationship with my body. As I’ve spent the last five years in the working world having to wear “office-appropriate” clothing and all that, I constantly find myself trying to get away without wearing a bra. I’ve realized that since I sit at a small size B (thank the pill for that late-teen boob boost), unlike a lot of women, I can get away without wearing a bra under some tops and dresses (which totally horrified my conservative European seamstress when I told her I didn’t want to wear a bra, or cups or have any padding under my wedding gown). If I have to wear a bra somewhere, you can bet your ass that it’s a minimally lined bralette (thank Drake they’re in right now) and nothing more.
I’ve finally accepted the fact that my boobs (and body, for that matter) are going to change (especially as I go through the next few decades of my life), but after 18 years of trying to change what I have, really, who the fuck cares? Don’t get me wrong, I still like to look good (and no, not just for my husband, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care what he thought about me), but part of what I love about my body is that my small chest balances out my big hips and, to me, that’s enough.
Because, in the words of Justin Timberlake in Friends With Benefits, even if they’re tiny, “they’re still breasts.”
This story was originally published on September 30, 2016.
Illustration by @drakecereal