Zoom in on school picture day in fifth grade: I’m sitting front and center, holding the class sign—a special, and humiliating, task given to the shortest kid—while my taller peers smirked around me. At barely 4’4, I was constantly mistaken for a second-grader. While my friends were already fitting into “grown-up” Abercrombie and Fitch, I was still stuck in a size 6-8 at Abercrombie Kids. I was picked last for every team, picked on by the class bullies, and passed over by every 5th grade boy. I was constantly mistaken for a kindergartener, even as a ten-year-old.
Once I got older, my shortness took a backseat to a much more catastrophic issue—my flat chest. In sixth grade, while all my friends showed off their Limited Too sports bras in the locker room, I was forced to shamefully display my half-undershirts from Gap Kids (size 6-8; yes, I was 11 years old). In 7th grade I finally got up the courage to ask the LTD2 saleswoman for a bra of my own, but when my size turned out to be a size 27 (not even a 27AAA, a 27-nothing), she had no choice but to smile sympathetically and suggest I “try again in a year”. Year after year, I remained flat as a board—not even a couple mosquito bites to speak of. My doctor never even brought up the “period talk”, no matter how much I’d ask her when my boobs would come in.
My seventh-grade best friend and I would walk around the blacktop at recess, discussing in minute detail which girls in our grade could be flatter than us (she wasn’t even as flat as me; we both knew it, but she pretended we were the same so I didn’t feel as bad). At camp, we had a list on our wall of all the girls in our bunk, ranked by boob order. I cried every time I saw my name dead last, underlined three times for emphasis. While my bunkmates bragged about filling out their bikinis, I tied my XXS halter tops so tight around my neck that I’d give myself welts, trying to create the illusion of SOME shape underneath the wrinkly fabric, but it would stay resolutely flat. I’d refuse to take off my bra or towel in front of any of my friends, afraid they’d make fun of me for having the body of a 5-year-old boy even at the age of 14.
By 15, I’d grown to a barely-there 32AA, but it still wasn’t enough. Saleswomen at Victoria’s Secret would still tell me that I was still too “teeny-weeny” for their real bras—“but have you tried our sports bras in the Pink collection? They’re more fit for a…younger silhouette.” I still couldn’t get a strapless dress to stay up or use a halter top to create cleavage. I still couldn’t even buy a push-up, because I had nothing whatsoever to push up. I never even let a guy go to second base, because what’s in it for him, really? I was getting older and older, freshman year, sophomore year, junior year of high school, and I was still mistaken daily for a pre-teen. But still, I hoped and prayed that one day my boobs would suddenly arrive, and with them would come a whole new life.
By the time I got to college, I had just broken into “real-bra” category—a very small 32A. It still wasn’t enough for me, though. I could never quite fill out my “going-out tops” and bandage dresses, and I never felt quite hot enough when I hit the frat parties with my friends. I knew chicken cutlets were out of the question—nothing freaks out a guy more than a body part that comes off once the lights are turned out. I was obsessed with trying to find a way to trick everyone into thinking I had a chest to speak of.
I finally found the solution—the double-bra! It was, in my mind, genius—a strapless bra padded on the bottom to make your boobs bigger, then a push-up on top to create some cleavage. I FINALLY looked my age when I squeezed into my party clothes—if there were a couple extra straps hanging out, so be it. And if I ever met a guy and wanted to go back with him, I’d always remember to run to the bathroom and take off the inside bra…that wouldn’t be too hard to remember, right?
Not quite. A few weeks later I really did meet a cute guy at a frat party, someone I actually liked for once, and he invited me back to his place. As things started to heat up a bit, he reached up to unhook my bra…and froze.
“What the hell is this?” he asked, totally confused.
I panicked, remembering that I was wearing two bras, and fumbled desperately to come up with an explanation. When I finally spoke, it wasn’t exactly inspired.
“I…um…I forgot to take off my bra from earlier when I was changing! Ha ha ha!”
He didn’t buy it. Needless to say, I was out of there in five minutes and never saw him again. After that, I swore to stop with all the boob bullshit—no more push-ups, no more strategic bronzer application, no more stick-on bras, no more doubling up, none of it. I was finally ready to accept my mosquito bites as they are, because nothing could be worse than getting caught trying to make them something they’re not. I wore regular bras for once, when I went out and other times, and never even worried if my top didn’t fall quite the right way. I embraced second base, for once, and stopped cringing every time I walked into a lingerie store. Finally, I had come to terms with my flatness.
But then, a miracle occurred. The next summer, my boobs magically grew from an A to a solid B, with no warning and no explanation. Finally, I could buy whatever bra I wanted at Victoria’s Secret, wear whatever bikini I felt like, fill out all my Forever21 tops exactly the right way. I could get to second base and know for sure there was something in it for both of us. But somehow, it didn’t make a difference. I’d thought my whole life that having boobs would make everything better, but I felt exactly the same—no hotter, no cooler, no more confident with boobs than without them. I realized that being flat-chested never made me who I was, just like being a 34B doesn’t make me who I am now.
Boobs are, after all, just some weird-looking things sticking out of your chest. You can push them up, squeeze them together, lift them, stretch them, stuff them, support them all you want, but at the end of the day you can’t hide behind them, and they can’t define you. You’ll always be the same whether you’re endowed with a pair of mosquito bites or a couple of watermelons.
Diary of a Former Flattie: My journey from AAA to B
You Might Also Like...