Sarah Darer Littman - YA author of Purge.
Most girls anticipate the arrival of their breasts with Judy Blumesque fervor. (“I must, I must, I must increase my bust.”) I tried to ignore mine. I wore the same bra, a 34A, all through high school. Sported flannel shirts and other camouflage clothes to conceal the suggestion of a chest, and developed a stoop shouldered posture to aid in this endeavor.
My grandmother was appalled. “Wings back, chest out!” was probably her most uttered admonition to me during my high school years. What she didn’t understand was that the last thing in the world I wanted to do was walk around with my chest out. It frightened me. Well, not it per se, but the attention that they seemed to attract whenever they were unveiled. Grandma was so determined to rectify my slumping posture that she would make me walk the length of our back deck with a book balanced on my head. Kicking it old school. What she didn’t know was that as soon as I exited the front door, I reverted to my slumping, chest-concealing ways.
I ignored my breasts so much I didn’t even realize they’d grown. My first semester of college, they kept falling out of my ancient bra when I ran for the bus. When I went home for Thanksgiving, I told my mom and we went to Lord and Taylor. The bra fitter told me I was no longer a 34A, I was actually a 34C. Great. Even more to hide.
When I was in my 30’s, I had kids. Finally, my breasts had a raison d’etre. I loved breastfeeding – the closeness with my babies, the knowledge that I was giving them the best nutrition possible. But instead of shrinking, as many women’s do after nursing children, mine got even bigger. WTF?! If my shoulders got any more rounded, I’d look like Quasimodo.
Out of all my body parts, I’m still the most insecure and self-conscious about my chest, but after years of therapy and with that je ne sais quois that’s come to me with middle age, I’ve learned to accept “the girls”. They still cause me frustration when I’m dress shopping or worse still, looking for swimwear. But I write in my basement, and at the bookstore where I work part-time I can wear skirts and tops, so I don’t wear that many dresses. And I found a great place that sells cute bikinis with supportive bra tops for well-endowed women. So if I’ve got them, why not, if not exactly flaunt them, at least not hide them? And definitely, definitely stop hating them. Because life’s too short to waste energy on that. I’d rather be writing.