The first time someone pointed out my chest, I was in fourth grade in Montana City, Montana.
“Your mom needs to buy you a bra because those are pointy.”
Looking down, I realized for the first time that there were two bumps poking out from my shirt. As if she cast a spell, the bumps seemed to mutate and grow beneath my shirt, rocketing off my chest like the Rocky Mountains in the Cenozoic. The weight almost tipped me over. Her voice whipped me out of my daydream.
“Ya know, I would be embarrassed to be walking around like that.”
I felt like someone dropped a bag of rocks on me. I would swear on the Bible those little dots weren’t there before my “friend” called them into existence.
My arms pulled my brown paper bag lunch across my chest, a futile attempt to keep my chest from growing any more than it already had.
I imagine bra shopping with your mom is similar to your dad teaching you about condoms. You would give your left boob (or nut) to make it stop. My first bra was an off-brand, granny-panty-white pair of triangles with snaps that bulged through my shirt. The thick straps screamed TRAINER BRA and the perfect padded circle inserts screamed, I’ve hit puberty.
“Is it on?”
“Yeah?” my tiny voice trailing underneath the stall.
“Okay, let me see.”
Two hands appeared from over the door and I realized the top of the door was so low my mom could easily peek over the edge. Stumbling over the bench, I pushed myself up against the back wall trying to avoid her gaze, like a cockroach that’s just seen light.
Her eyes squinted, focused, while she analyzed fit. I froze under her stare. “Move around a little. How does it feel?”
A pair of thumbs-up was all I could muster.
Two for $24
First intro to womanhood
Please, no one notice.
“But you said she has the best rack of anyone on the team.”
She was the most popular girl at the two-week long summer camp. With everything that goes along with perfect makeup, a rich dad, and the special skill of tanning four shades darker in thirty minutes, she was everything my middle-school-me wanted to be.
I slouched down into myself, trying to make my massive 14-year-old DDs disappear on the other side of the wall. I hated my boobs. Chances of becoming friends were sliding away like the underboob sweat dripping down to my belly button.
During long runs with my cross country team around Town Lake, I would take off my shirt and run with my shorts and a sports bra — well, two. If I only wore one, the floppage was too real (for me and all surrounding parties). Running 10 miles at a time in the warm Texas air I felt so strong and powerful; so ashamed and embarrassed of my body.
She was dating Bobby, the fastest kid on my cross country team and a notoriously dirty locker room kind of guy. They talked on the phone every night. And he liked my rack.
I didn’t think he even knew my name.
Maybe he doesn’t know it, I thought.
I stared at my boobs in the misty mirror; they stared back at me.
They wandered on to the wrong body, my boobs. Nothing would make me smile more broadly than to swap boobies with Miss Tan. She can have the boobs and the boy.
I wonder if my 5K time would go down if I didn’t have to lug these useless pieces of fat around.
I slouched down so far, my back became a perfect orb.
Snippets of conversations with my youth leaders growing up in the Mormon church.
“When you wear tight-fitting clothes, the young men can see the outline of your breasts. Then they can’t help it. They will picture you naked.”
“Chocolate,” she whispered.
Obviously it wasn’t getting through. She pulled me aside, the other kids filing in for the dance.
“You’ve never heard that before? ‘Chocolate’ means your shirt is too low.”
My face went red. I pulled up my shirt. She smiled.
“Your body is sacred. Respect it and do not defile it in any way. Through your dress and appearance, you can show that you know how precious your body is. You can show that you are a disciple of Jesus Christ and that you love Him…”
“Never lower your standards of dress. Do not use a special occasion as an excuse to be immodest. When you dress immodestly, you send a message that is contrary to your identity as a son or daughter of God. You also send the message that you are using your body to get attention and approval.
-For the Strength of Youth, 2011
“How do you think he’ll feel if you wear that?”
“I don’t know, I just think it’s a pretty dress.”
“He won’t be able to control himself.”
“Is that what you want to do to a righteous priesthood holder?”
It took a few days to psych myself up to try it. I would pull my shirt down and stare at my nipples.
My nipples have always scared me. They’re the only part of my body that shapeshifts completely at will.
Hard. Soft. Hard. Soft. One is hard. One is soft. Where did this random mole come from?
It’s not hot, it’s terrifying. My body is possessed by some cold-sensitive monster that wants to make my cheeks turn red when it’s raining. At fourteen, my body was an unknowable, repellent mess.
And when I observed my nipples, there was one question on my mind.
Where is the breast milk?
Some kids are confused about condoms. Some kids are confused about STDs. Some kids are confused about safe sex. I, as a 6th grader, was confused about all of the above AND about where breast milk comes from.
Well, I knew it came from nipples. And I knew that all girls could make breast milk because they needed to feed their babies. So the only logical answer?
The only missing part of the equation was suction. If I could get enough suction on my nipples, I could solve the case of the missing breast milk.
My mouth was out of the question. Not because it was too weird — all of this was too weird — but because there was no way I could bend the heck out of my neck in order to swoop down and suck.
Thinking through the various sucking implements, I settled on the vacuum. The long tube was perfectly sized — big enough for my nipple, but not big enough to suck my whole boob down.
I spent days stalking the vacuum, biding my time, waiting for the right moment. Obviously, the noise from the machine would be loud enough to raise suspicion.
The answer came from Google before I had my chance to corner the vacuum.
Breastmilk. Only after you have a baby. And sometimes randomly men can produce it.
For a year, every time I crossed the vacuum’s path, I still wondered.
I have hated
That are on
You have probably
Since I met you.
They are so obnoxious
They’re for you, maybe, but not
When you’re in labor, everyone sees you naked. And it isn’t a sexy naked. It is blood coming from between your legs, incredibly sweaty and smelly, I haven’t showered in 24 hours type of naked. I estimate between ten and fifteen strangers saw my downstairs and my upstairs naked and afraid during my labor.
But somehow, that’s only the fourth most horrifying thing that happened to my body when I had a baby.
Number one: birthing a 5–10 pound human through a small hole between my legs.
Number two: needing 15 minutes of stitching to sew that small hole back together.
Number three: learning to breastfeed.
When Eli was born, the doctor immediately plopped him on to my stomach for some skin on skin. Grabbing with all his might, his wailing mouth formed a perfect O, asking for something to eat. Without hesitation, the nurse scooted him up along my body. She grabbed my left boob and squeezed right above the nipple. Hard.
“You have to get him to latch.”
In one moment, I was completely alone with my new baby. In the next moment, I became the observer. Somehow, in the moment that seemed to be the pinnacle of my existence, my boobs became betrayers once again. I hated them.
But as quickly as she appeared, the nurse faded away. My once screeching baby immediately stopped crying, and transformed into the most peaceful being on the planet.
His eyes closed; his rolled up fists relaxed; he slowly sucked.
And for the first time, possibly in my life, I loved my boobs.
Did you ever play with a water wiggly as a kid? It’s a colorful tube-shaped toy that slips out of your hand with ease, then plops on the ground. Gravity seems to pull it right down to the ground.
After breastfeeding, my boobs are now two water wigglies.
The first time I went bikini shopping post breastfeeding, I realized just how bad the situation was down there. No matter the cut of the top, the sides of my boobs proceeded to wiggle their way right out of my top.
No, this wasn’t a nip-slip situation. This was a “my boobs are so flimsy they slump five different ways under pressure” situation.
I did not purchase a bikini that day.
If you’re reading this, I know we’ve had a complicated relationship, but you’ve been there with me my whole life. You’re a couple of weirdos, but you’re my weirdos.
Sorry to tell all your embarrassing stories above, and for all the photorealistic drawings of you both. To make it up to you I promise to buy a better bra and some stretch mark cream with the money that comes from this post.