15 December 2020

The Battle of the Breasts

 This post was inspired by the Twitter account: Wild Woman Writing Club

 I saw this tweet today and made my think about the tumultuous relationship I have had with my female body over the years.  I don't hate my body.  Now.  But I have wished that everything about it could be different.  I have cursed it.  I have hurt it.  I have never loved it.  But now, I feel that my body and I have finally become friends.

I don't think that I even thought for a second about my body, the size of it, the shape of it, or even what I looked like until I started primary school.  Before that I had been safe in the cocoon of my immediate family and the elderly neighbours that lived on our street. I knew, because I was told, that I looked like my mother; but other than that I did not have a care in the world in that respect.

Primary school taught me that I was "pudgy", the teacher called it.  My  mum told me that it was just baby fat (which it was) and to ignore the teasing and being picked on that had started after my teacher pointed my difference out.  (Thanks Mrs Ogden, two thumbs up).

A boy in another class was "pudgy" too.  He was not teased or picked on.  It wasn't the same apparently. That was the first time I learned that girls were held to a different standard than boys.  Even when they are five.

The baby fat disappeared but at around ten, my body threw me a curve I wasn't expecting.  Not yet.  Not so soon.  I wasn't ready.  I am not sure how you can be readied for it.

My body shape started to change and I started to grow breasts.  My child's clothing was now at odds with the shapes and curves that were appearing. 

Overnight it seemed grown men looked at me in a way that I was not used to and did not understand, other than to know it felt wrong.  I couldn't go on my own to the local park anymore because a group of older boys had noticed my blossoming breasts and cornered me on the roundabout; pointing my early development and asking if they could "cop a feel".  

I felt like my breasts had stolen the childhood that I was not ready to leave.  My growing female body set me apart from my female peers and I was jealous of them and their flat chests.  Some of the boys noticed and I learned to stay away from some.  The innocent "kiss chase" game I had once participated in without a thought, became something I knew to stay away from.

Moving to high school, I was the only girl, in certainly the first two years, to have breasts.  It definately set me apart.  In a way I did not want, when I all I wanted was so desperately to fit in.  Attention from men also increased.  I hated it.

Coming into my third year and other girls started to develop too, making me more normal again.  Able to blend more into the crowd.  Yet mine were still bigger and were a figment of fun.  I gained a nickname which I won't repeat here, but it was related to the size and shape of my breasts.

I still hated my breasts and resented the boys that were allowed to grow up normally, without a body part being the thing that they were known for.  

For around six months when I was 15, I was attacked by three boys at the bus stop at the end of school, every, single, day.  Throwing me down to the small rise of grass next to the bus stop, grabbing my breasts.  I remember the fear.  The embarrassment.  The wondering of why, on a main road, no one ever stopped to help me.  I was invisible.  It felt like because of my adult, larger breasts, it was somehow allowed.  Accepted.

I remember telling a teacher and being told that "boys will be boys".  Something about male hormones and a suggestion to wear a larger shirt.  I didn't tell my parents.  I was too ashamed.  I felt that it was my fault.

It stopped eventually, because I paid them to stop.  A packet of cigarettes.  They and I acted like nothing had ever happened afterwards.  I think that was when I began to feel like my breasts were intrinsically linked with my self worth.  I had paid them to stop, my breasts had become a commodity to trade.

Now, I weep for my 15 year old self.  The question still rolls around in my head.  So many cars passed by each day.  The drivers, the passengers, so many must have seen.  Why did no one ever stop?  Did I matter so little?  Did they think I encouraged the assaults?  Back then, I could only conclude that I did.

Fast forward a few years and I was a larger girl, with the larger breasts.  My self worth had plummeted to a level that my breasts were the only commodity I could use to attract the attention of boys that I then desperately craved.   Their attention, no matter how depraved, how wrong, made me feel like, for that moment, I wasn't invisible.  I was, in that moment, worth just a tiny bit.

I think the thing I am most ashamed of is that in those years, I met again one of the boys who had accosted me so many times at school.  I slept with him.  Now I cannot believe that my self worth had sunk so low that I would allow that to happen.  To court it.  Jesus Christ.

The self harming I did back then I now realise was a punishment to myself for what I allowed, and encouraged to happen to me.  

This tale of mine doesn't sound great inspiration for girls to feel better about their female bodies and their worth.  But reader, my life got so much better.  I found hope again.  I found self worth.

I slowly began to realise that I was more than my breasts.  They did not define me.  I threw away those who objectified me for them.  I began to dress differently.  No longer the black to hide the larger body but with the breasts showing.  Instead pretty dresses.  Patterns.  Colours.  I started to write about being confident in yourself and growing yourself as a person, not seeing yourself as purely an object to try to attract the male sex.  The more I wrote, I more I became a real person.  

The proudest moment of my life appeared when a reader of my confidence blog emailed me, thanking me for encouraging her to find her own self worth.  Enabling her to think of herself as more than her shape.  Instead, a whole person. I still have that email.  It was a defining moment of my life.

Now, at an undisclosed age, I am finally at peace with my female body.  I have worked on my character, my thoughts, my beliefs.  Twitter, the cess pool that it is and can be, helped me to step out of my shell and find the person who, I was surprised to find, I had so many thoughts, so many opinions.  

I finally allowed myself to trust.  To have a relationship.  With a man who loves my body, my breasts, but just as much, my mind.  Someone who encourages me to constantly question, to learn.  Never telling me what to think.  

The battle with my breasts lasted decades and started in a time that is not now.  But girls face different challenges now. But they can, like I did, get through it.  My mental health didn't help throughout.  But I battled, and eventually, I won.

So what would I say to a girl who is battling against her female body, her shape, her form now?  You are more than the value that others place on you.  Work on your mind.  Your personality.  Your thoughts and beliefs.  They will grow, improve your mind and carry you straight through your life.  

I am at peace with my body now.  I can even now, once again, flash a hint of cleavage in a dress because I like the way it looks.  Not as a symbol of worth.  That belongs to my mind.

This body you have is the only one you will ever have.  Do not hate it.  Do not let others define it.  Tell you it should be different.  Don't modify it, change it, mutilate it, harm it.  Embrace it and love it.  It will carry you through the years of your life when those who would judge it are long gone.

Work on your heart and your mind.  You will find yourself and believe me, once you find the person who you are, happiness and peace will come.

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