I’ve never had a bosom to speak of. In elementary school, my friends and I read “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” and publicly I laughed along with my friends at Margaret’s attempts to increase her bust. Privately, I tried that same move in my bathroom.
I looked forward to turning 16, that magical age where all Disney princesses and golden California twins end up with perfect size 2 bodies, waists smaller than their necks, and disproportionally huge racks. Sixteen came and went, then 20, then 24 … and to my disappointment, my chest stayed improbably in the 32/34-A range, my convex sternum protruding like a gravestone marking the death of my hope for some real boobs.
During my first pregnancy, I encountered the strangest feeling. I was a teacher then and at a pep-assembly and while I was clapping, my arms bumped in to something. Boobs! With each clap, my upper arms bumped into my burgeoning breasts, who had awakened from their slumber by pregnancy hormones. For the first time in my life, I had cleavage and not just any cleavage, I’m talking Victoria’s Secret cleavage; full, firm, and glorious.
I’ve never been one you’d label skanky, but I have to admit I rocked some very low-cut maternity tops to show them off. Around 39 weeks pregnant, I got hit on at the bar where my husband worked. It was one of those situations in which I was sitting at a high table with my rack visible, but my belly was hidden below. False advertising! When I sat back my stomach rose like the morning sun, rendering the poor guy speechless! His friends across the room almost fell over laughing!
The boobs only increased after my son, Kellen was born and I became a dairy queen, filling my freezer with months worth of frozen breast milk. Clearly, when it comes to breastmilk-making, starting size does not matter. I nursed for 16 months and then … a reality check. Back came the stark reality that, unless they’re serving their biological purpose, my boobs go into hiding.
I started running when Kellen was three, and my little boobs became even smaller, but as my self-esteem flourished with my running success I (tried) to push aside the self-consciousness. I laughed when my running friends joked that they needed to get me a shirt that said, “With an ass like this, who needs boobs?”
I stopped running during my second pregnancy and again my boobs resurfaced. And again I busted out the low cut tops! I nursed until Alora was just over two-years. My mileage far exceeded my prepregnancy mileage and when I quit breastfeeding, the boobs didn’t just go back in their cave, they seemed to melt. I joked about being nipples on a ribcage to my friends, but on the inside kept thinking they certainly couldn’t get any smaller.
But then months into higher mileage training, I noticed my 32-A gapped so much that I couldn’t hide it. I wanted to cry when I saw myself nude in the mirror, so after a long run I went into the local lingerie shop and ashamedly announced I needed the smallest bra they had. And again, that too is starting to gap.
Surprisingly, I think I’m ok with this. I think I can thank my daughter for this turn of events. When I think of her, I don’t want her to ever hate her body or wish she fulfilled some arbitrary male phantasy. My little boobs did their job and did it well and the rest of my body is pretty darn useful too!
Damn, resolving to be a body positive role model is a lot easier said than done. I’ve been raised, steeped in this American big-boob-loving culture. The number of friends who are having breast augmentation keeps increasing and as it does, it is getting harder for me to stand proud with my washboard chest. Some women say that boobs get in the way, that they would trade me any day, but I really don’t think so. I am thin, but my flat stomach sticks out further than my flatter chest – not a silhouette I feel proud of. Women’s shirts are made for boobs but I don’t fill out the darts and my shirts hang longer in the front. . and the smallest bra I could buy doesn’t fit.
On other women’s running websites and even Salty Running, so many of the articles are about taming your boobs, finding the right bra, avoiding chaffing and getting ogled. Last week I read one about returning to running after a boob job (a runner got an enlargement due to her insecurities about being flat). I understand the insecurity, the pain, the wishing, I also understand that there are many women who do need to tame their chest to run, and I also believe that it’s your body so if you want a boob job get one and I will tell you how lovely your chest looks, because it will.
As much as I struggle to accept my tiny boobs, I don’t think surgery is the right answer for me. I want to empower those of us on the less-endowed end of the spectrum who choose to accept their booblessness and not change something about ourselves that isn’t actually broken. I want to work hard to accept my body for the way it is … today.
So today, I am saying eff-off to all of that. Sure, I have a goal of running a 3:10 marathon, but I also have a big dream goal of accepting my body. I do not need to insert saline bags into my body to feel good about myself. I am giving that shit, the shame and self-loathing, up by celebrating what the rest of my body can do. My pecs and arms can do 100 push-ups. My legs ran 22 miles with nine at an average 7:04/mile pace and three at 6:50/mile pace the other day. My lungs, legs, and butt get me through 60-70 miles per week. My arms can hug my kids against my bony rib cage while my brain, heart and mouth can show them and tell them what really matters in life. My tiny boobs nourished babies for almost three-and-a-half years. They did their job, they’re too small to cause me this much angst anyway, and today I am saying farewell to hating them.
How do you feel about your boobs? Have you had surgery to fix your boobs or would you consider surgery in the future?