Self-Conscious Boobies – Redux

I’m doing a post based on some of my search terms! I should be excited but these search terms make me sad. Simply put, there are a lot of people coming to my blog because they are self-conscious about their boobs.

Some examples:

conscious about boobs

i’m all boobs

boob self conscious

curse+boobs

self conscious about boobs

self conscious because younger women with huge tits

Now, they’re probably landing on this post but I’m not sure how much that is going to answer what I assume is the underlying question of “what do I do about my boobs that make me feel self-conscious?”, so here we go. My thoughts on boobs and what we can do about feeling crap about them.

I’d say there are two main reasons for feeling self-conscious about ones boobies, which are 1) they don’t match up to what society says boobs should look like and 2) the breasts in question are attracting unwanted attention.  I have OPINIONS on both of these.

Let me tell you a story about what happened when my mother bought me my first bra. I was in class, in a white shirt (uniform regulations – hurrah!) wearing a white bra underneath. Now, these days I know that if you don’t want your bra to show under your white shirt you should in fact wear a bra that matches your skin tone as closely as possible, not a white bra. Unfortunately as a thirteen year old girl this was not advice I’d yet received. The charming young gentlemen sat behind me in class obviously noticed my bra straps as new and proceeded to declare out loud to the rest of the class that “Nessie’s wearing a bra!” I was absolutely mortified and wanted nothing more than to disappear on the spot. I couldn’t do that alas, not being proficient in Apparition. So I did the next best thing which was to wear my jumper. Continually. For most of the term. Even when I was too warm. Not the smartest thing but it made sense at the time. The situation attracted attention I think because I was one of the first girls in our class to develop breasts. The attention I attracted here though was nothing compared to that which I started receiving as a girl about town as my breasts continued to grow throughout my teenage years.

You know the “attention” I mean. The builders’ wolf whistles. The White Van Man asking me to suck his cock like I was sucking that ice lolly. The guy that asked me if he could be my “special friend” and “walk me home” as I was walking through the park. The lad that grabbed my arse in broad daylight as I was walking by.

Oh and don’t forget all the dating interest I’ve received over the years, where I’ve not been sure whether they like me for me, or just my boobs.

Yeah.

A-white-van-drives-throug-007

A classic favourite of the teenage girl. Not.

Basically most of this shit is down to living in a society that teaches men that they have a right to the women going about their business in public. The Patriarchy in other words. I don’t know what to do about it, other than keep working towards a society that no longer hates and resents the mere existence of women. To keep being vocal about how harassment affects us and how we shouldn’t have to live with it. By explaining to the men in our lives that actually, the shit men say does affect us and is as bad and as common place as we say it is, even if you and your mates are “nice guys” who don’t know anyone who engages in sexual harassment (which is blatantly untrue by the way, you just don’t see that “banter” for what it is).

So that’s point two – shit we breast-bearing people unfortunately have to put up with for the time being, although I encourage witty/rude comebacks where the situation is safe to do so.

Point One however is much more difficult to deal with, although possibly more amenable to things you can do for yourself.

There are lots of ways for ones boobies to be “wrong” because the mainstream media and fashion industries define the perfect breast so narrowly.

They have to be big, but not too big else you’re a hooker, and you’ll get what you deserve. They mustn’t be too small because teh menz need something to play with. They must be perky and gravity-resistant, even if you’ve had kids. They shouldn’t have stretch marks from fast growth (puberty or nursing). The nipples and areolae must be exactly so, else the Man in charge of Page 3 will ring them with a red pen as areas for photoshopping. They must be white (yay, racism!) and spot free, like your flawless face (if it isn’t, cover it up with make-up, you dirty skank!). Your boob size should be independent of your overall body size, so even if you’re “skinny”, you should still be able to make your body to keep the fat around your boobs. But if you are large, your boobs should even larger to make sure you still have a waist, even if the size of them is giving you back ache and people are giving you grief for not being modest enough.

And that’s just the messages I can think of off the top of my head. I’m sure there are more.  Add them in the comments if you wish.

So, perhaps you are self-conscious about your boobs because you think they are too small. Perhaps you are self-conscious about them because they are “huge”. Perhaps you are self-conscious about them because you’re missing one because of breast cancer surgery. Perhaps you are self-conscious about them for some other reason. I don’t know.

I don’t have any easy answers. The pat answer is “learn to love your body”, but I know that is damn hard. I’ve been hanging round fat acceptance sites for a while but still I don’t like my belly. I don’t like my arms. I don’t like my boobs when they attract unwanted attention. I don’t love my body a lot of the time. And that is sad, because this body? Is the only one I’ve got. It’s mostly healthy and it’s fully mobile, and that is more than many others have.  It’s still young. It’s quite conventionally pretty. It has brown hair, pale skin and blue-grey eyes. It’s curvy in all the “right” places and looks fucking fantastic in a corset. It’s really not that bad when it comes down to it, and if I lived in another period of history, it could decorate a Reubens canvas. And yet… This stuff is tough.

Not actually a Reubens but based on one!
(Vitaly Tikhov: Nude with a Rubens Painting (1920))

We know this and we know why.

Let me explain. Learning to make peace with your body is hard because you’re living in a consumerist culture that lives off of making you feel bad about yourself. The fashion and cosmetics industries would go bust if people started liking themselves because then they wouldn’t need to buy stuff in an attempt to make themselves “better”. You’re trying to swim against the current here, is what I’m saying. Don’t underestimate how powerful advertising is. Those folks have got it down almost to a science. They spend fortunes working out how best to sell their wares. They research. They advertise. And they make sure you never stop hearing it. TV. Billboards. Hoardings. Newspapers. Magazines. Shop fronts. Radio. The Internet. Your friends. Any surface they can use, they do. Even if you stop reading fashion magazines and gossip mags, and refuse to own a TV or watch commercials, and use AdBlock in your browser, you still can’t avoid it. It’s in the very air we breathe. All you can do is cut down your exposure as best you can. and even then, know that it won’t be enough.

Learning to like yourself is a radical act, and a lifetime’s practise. Don’t forget that.

On a more practical note, there are some things you can do that might help you feel better about your boobs specifically, and your body in general.

Never, ever, ever forget the importance of a well-fitting bra in a style you like. This is doubly important if you are above a D-cup. I’m lucky in this regard. I was introduced to the Bravissimo fitting method when I was 16, just as I was beginning to be sized out of the standard range, even though I hadn’t realised it yet. I also have enough disposable income to blow thirty quid on a new bra a couple of times a year.  I’m not so large-chested I’m often sized out of my torso’s dress size and have to size up. If you’re facing those issues there are others much more qualified to talk about the subject so follow the links at the end of this post. If you breasts are so large they give you back ache, double check your fitting and size. If you are wearing the correct size then I don’t have any more advice – again check out the links. Breast reduction may be a possibility – it is here in the UK, but I have no idea if that’s the case where you live, and even if it is, it’s still major surgery with risks of its own and you may not want to even if you technically could. So yes, like I said earlier – there are no easy answers, and the things that have worked for me may well not work for you.

If you manage to find the lingerie you love in the size that fits, you could perhaps take photos of yourself wearing it. I have a collection of selfies on my laptop of me messing around with poses and lighting and clothing. In there are pictures that remind me I do like aspects of how I look. They give me something to cling to on the bad days when nothing fits and everything looks horrible on me and I’m almost in tears in front of the mirror.

The only photo of me in lingerie that I am willing to show you!

The only photo of me in lingerie that I am willing to show you!

On that note, check out the Fat Acceptance movement and Health At Every Size (HAES) – there’s all sort of writing about coming to terms with the body you have in more general terms, some of which you may find useful. Kate Harding’s now archived Shapely Prose and BMI Project are eye-opening if you’ve not come across them before. I also whole-heartedly recommend browsing the Breast Gallery (NSFW). The first time I came across it, I was completely blown away. It’s a massive collection of photos on non-sexualised breasts in all their forms, the sorts you never see in the mainstream media at all, complete with notes from the person concerned saying how they feel about them. However you feel about your boobs, there is someone else with similar boobs and similar feelings. There’s also the Scar Project which is a beautiful collection of artistic post-mastectomy photos, but you’ll have to google that one yourself because the ISP I’m using has blocked it (yay, the UK’s “anti-porn” law that is a complete crock of shite!).

So, that’s about it in terms of actually useful advice I can think of. Google, used wisely, can be your friend. Above all, remember you are not alone in this. This is a cultural phenomenon and there are people out there also doing their best to come to terms with living despite it. Find them. Talk to them. Talk to me, and I’ll see if I can point you in the direction of additional resources and friendly ears. And don’t forget, there’ll nearly always be someone who likes you just as you are*. One day it could even be you**.

Hugs and love

Nessie

*On which note, if your partner or family members are making you feel shite about how you look, check out Captain Awkward. You deserve better.

**I’m working on this. Apparently, there are people who are generally okay with themselves? I would like to meet them please!

Bra Fitting Resources

http://www.bralessinbrasil.com/p/finding-bras-that-fit.html

http://www.thinandcurvy.com/2010/10/how-to-measure-your-bra-size-correct.html

http://www.bravissimo.com/perfectfit/

Boob Bloggesses

http://anytimeyoga.wordpress.com/tag/boobs/

http://muscularhourglass.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/brief-introduction.html

http://busts4justice.com/about-busts4justice/

http://www.brasihate.blogspot.co.uk/p/about-this-blog.html

Size Acceptance Links

http://anytimeyoga.wordpress.com/tag/size-acceptance/

http://wellroundedmama.blogspot.co.uk/p/about-this-blog.html

http://kateharding.net/faq/

http://kateharding.net/2007/11/27/the-fantasy-of-being-thin/

http://www.lindabacon.org/resources/

2 thoughts on “Self-Conscious Boobies – Redux

  1. This is lovely, and the links are super useful, so thanks for that.

    I’ve written a bit about my boobs before… I’d say I hate them about 90% of the time. They developed early and fast, and for several years I’ve been a size that is not usually sold at US stores (currently wearing 32FF UK or 32H US), which is so, so frustrating. I don’t know what I would do in a world without internet shopping, and even with the online shopping I spend way too much time and energy on dealing with them. BLAH.

    • Glad the links are useful. Braless in Brazil is all around pretty excellent with really detailed reviews of lots of bras, and even better, clothes, and has lots of useful links. Likewise Bras I Hate & Love has reviews of just about every freya/panache bra ever made, as far as I can tell.

      All the sympathy on your situation. I have tried buying bras online and 9 times out of 10, the purchase gets sent back. I would not want to deal with that with international postage on top. :-/

      Off the peg, disposable fashion has a HELL of a lot to answer for.

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