I remember the first time I realized that my breasts were small. I was in middle school and had been at my older cousin’s house where we were swimming in her outdoor pool. As a soon-to-be seventh grader, I was more concerned with my orthodontia status (the next bands on my braces were going to be a hot pink and blue combo) and convincing my mom to let me stay up to watch 7th Heaven on school nights than my boobs.
My cousin, a cool, upcoming high school freshman who had boobs the size of cantaloupes, took notice of my small chest that hot summer day at the pool and informed me that I had “mosquito bites.” What? Where? That’s funny, I don’t see any bites anywhere on my arms—nope, not on my legs either—and nothing is itching me…oh wait, my boobs are the mosquito bites? It had taken me a full two and half minutes, but my cousin, far more knowledgeable than I, had taken it upon herself to clue me in on the lowly status of my breasts. Thank you, Gen.
Fast-forward roughly eight years and several worn out 34-A cup bras later, and well…nothing has really changed. I spent years waiting for the Boob Fairy to cover me with her magic dust at night, hoping that I would miraculously wake up in the morning with an actual reason to wear a bra (or a “boob retainer,” as my little brother says) but she never came. My grandmothers on both sides of my family have DD-sized breasts, so I assumed the good genes were in my favor. I was wrong.
Just like kids wait impatiently all year long for the pitter-patter of reindeer feet on the roofs of their houses and for Santa to fly in from the North Pole on Christmas Eve, I waited impatiently for the morning where I would wake up and—ta da!—have a new chest. But after years of waiting for this growth spurt and it never coming, I simply stopped obsessing over it. Mind you, this doesn’t mean that I forgot about the size of my boobs. From the seventh grade gym locker room to MTV, like every other girl in America, I was exposed to breasts on a daily basis—and usually, they were bigger than mine.
Maybe the reason why I stopped wishing for bigger breasts was because of those rare occasions where I actually started to appreciate my breasts. Have you ever run a mile in gym class with a DD-sized chest? Obviously, I haven’t. But after watching a DD-sized friend of mine grimace in pain while she completed her four laps around the track, I had no envy. Even today, every time I work out at the gym or take a jog around campus, I look down towards my chest and say, Thank you, boobs (or lack thereof).
Another unforeseen advantage was bra shopping. Picking out an appropriate bra was always quick and painless. I never had to spend superfluous amounts of money on fancy, double-strapped, sexified push-up bras (mainly being that there isn’t much to actually push up) that look like torture contraptions.
But the very best part? There was absolutely nothing like the feeling of getting up on a Saturday morning, rolling out of bed in my pjs (sans bra), pulling over a sweatshirt and going to the corner store to buy a gallon of milk to go with my Special K with Red Berries. The guy behind the register smiles, hands me my change, and has no idea how scandalous I truly am. It is absolutely liberating to venture out into public, no straps digging into my skin leaving a faint red mark behind above my ribs, and to have it be my little secret. Ahhhhh.
Needless to say, I became comfortable with my breasts—until they actually got in the way. It wasn’t until prom rolled around during my senior year of high school that having a smaller chest actually presented itself as a problem.
The dress was perfect. It was a long, pink, chiffon dress with an empire waist that reached the floor and tied around my neck. The second I stepped into it, I felt like a 1950s Hollywood film star about to walk the red carpet. The problem? It didn’t exactly fit on top and my breasts weren’t large enough to fill it out. It was too baggy, too droopy, and had too much material. It was just too big.
I bought it anyway.
After many weeks of attempting to figure out how I was going to fit into the dress of my dreams, it wasn’t until the day of prom until my mother found a solution—and they came in the form of chicken cutlets (a.k.a. silicone “enhancers” from Filene’s). As I reluctantly put them inside the dress so I could fill out the top, I thought to myself, Damn you, Boob Fairy. I never thought I would be stuffing poultry down my dress, but thanks.
But I had to admit, as skeptical as I was, I didn’t look half bad standing in front of my bedroom mirror wearing my dress (that now fit). In fact, I looked pretty darn good with my new chest. However, as the night went on, I kept waiting for the moment where I would magically feel different—but it never came. Not when I was standing next to my date on the beach taking cheesy pre-prom pictures on the beach, not when I was shimmying to “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and jumping up and down to “Sweet Caroline” (my boobs jumped too) and not when I came home, kicked off my heels and collapsed onto my bed (without washing off my make-up) out of the pure exhaustion that only the excitement of prom can induce.
Just as Cinderella takes off the glass slipper and turns back into a handmaiden who sings with mice, I took out my chicken cutlets, which had no doubt done their job of filling out my dress and providing me with ample cleavage for the night. I placed them in my top dresser drawer between my socks and bikini briefs and shut the door. The magic was over. Bibbity. Bobbity. Boobs.
But I wasn’t sad.
Sure, my night of looking like Marilyn Monroe was short-lived, but my confidence was not. Because the truth was, having new boobs didn’t make me feel any prettier, sexier or more confident than I did before. Having a bigger chest didn’t transform me into a new woman, make me feel more feminine or even make prom feel different. Should it have? Looking back, it almost seems ridiculous to think that deceiving others with silicone enhancers would make me feel better about myself. It was a nice perk (no pun intended), but at the end of the day, despite not feeling the transformation I had anticipated, I was still me—34A and A-okay. I had always wanted a bigger chest and when I finally got to experience having one—even if it was just for one night—it didn’t make me want one more. I had officially reached peace with my breasts.
But the truth is, not all of us A-cup girls have that light bulb, Cinderella, ta-da! moment where you suddenly come to peace with your boobs and accept them for what they are. It’s normal to feel insecure about your body because let’s face it: it’s tough being a flat-chested girl in a big-busted world. Unlike Cinderella, it doesn’t take one night, one year or sometimes even a decade to reach that kind of peace—all that matters is that you get there.
Oh, and the chicken cutlets? They’re still in my underwear drawer and have yet to make a second appearance.