Friday, 13 May 2016

Growing Up With Small Boobs

Woman in a braIt was during the last World Cup. I was down my local pub, watching an England match. A shot of the fans came up on the screen, focusing on a woman. When she realised she was on TV, she raised her arms and cheered on her team. Someone in the pub shouted, "You must be great at giving head, because no-one is going to want you with a rack like that!" Then I noticed that the woman had small boobs, and I was filled with anger and disgust, but not shock. This is the way of the world. Men don't like women with small boobs; women like me.

This is something I have grown up believing to be true. On TV, in movies, at school, at uni, down the pub, even walking in the street, I have heard men talk about women with big boobs, like Jess has discussed previously. Before feminism came into my life, I didn't like what I heard, but that kind of sexism was just something that happened. I was resigned to the fact that this is how men talk about women, and they only talk that way about women with big boobs. This led to two things; 1) Me hoping I never end up with big boobs (bigger maybe, but not big) because I never wanted anyone to talk to/about me like that, and 2) The idea I wasn't attractive because I didn't have big boobs.

This wasn't just because of the way I heard men talk, but also because of how I was treated - or rather, not treated. I have small boobs, and this means I am mostly invisible. On the odd occasion, mostly during Summer, I will notice the odd random guy checking me out, but normally, nothing. Being ogled, for the most part, is something I've not had to worry about, because I'm not noticed. This could be down to one or a combination of three things; I'm ginger, and there are those who find redheads unattractive, I have a very young face and look a lot younger than I am, and I have small boobs - which might contribute to others' impressions that I'm still a teenager. But while I was a teenager, I was sure it was because of my boobs. Someone I know even said to me once, while drunk, "You're going to have to accept than no bloke is going to fancy you because you have small boobs." When I brought it up since, he doesn't remember saying it, apologised profusely, and swore it's not what he actually believes. But at the time, it was really hurtful. But not anything I hadn't already  deduced for myself.

For a really long time, I was so self-conscious about my boobs, I would try not to draw attention to them, thinking people might notice and think, "Hey, she has boobs, but they're so small!" I remember when my mum first bought me a training bra when I was around 12 or 13. I had just started budding, and so it was time to start wearing bras, I was told. I hated it. I loathed it. I wanted to stay in my vests. Wearing a training bra would only mean that, in the PE changing room, the girls would notice how I had nothing to put in this bra I was wearing, while all their bras were being put to use. I've since learnt from my mum that she bought me a training bra because she was worried I might be teased for wearing a vest. Vests might be for little girls, but I didn't need a bra, and I was so conscious of the fact everyone would be laughing at me.

As I got older, once my boobs had grown, as I said, I'd try not to draw attention to them. I wouldn't wear anything remotely low cut. The little cleavage I have was never on show. I would only wear padded bras if the top I was wearing required it - if it didn't lay right without a little help - because I was worried people would notice my boobs suddenly looked bigger, and would know. I didn't have many tops that needed extra padding for this reason, but finding pretty tops and dresses that weren't made for a larger bust was really difficult. They would just hang wrong and gape, and I would leave shops feeling awful, my small boobs stopping me from wearing nice clothes. Not good enough. And it was because I wasn't good enough that no guys noticed me, that no guys fancied me.

However, once I hit my twenties, I stopped worrying quite so much. My boobs had finished growing, and filled tops a little better. I started to feel more comfortable in my body in general, really liking how I looked. I would buy and wear clothes I felt good in, and some of these clothes were lower cut than I was used to. I felt good in them! I felt more like a woman, and I thought my boobs looked good. And if guys weren't looking anyway, why bother trying to cover up so much? Low or not, they weren't going to notice. So I wore what I felt good in.

Cait Lomas wrote a guest post for Safe Space a few weeks ago about Going Braless, and the idea terrified me. Even though I originally hated having to wear a bra, soon after, I wouldn't be seen in public without one. At all. Ever. Let's face it, as a size 30B, I don't actually need a bra - my boobs aren't big enough to need supporting, nor do they give me backache. I don't need a bra. But I was worried that without a bra the clothes I wore were wither too loose, and so I wouldn't look like I had any boobs at all, or too tight, and would squish what I had into nothingness. I was scared because I thought I wouldn't feel like a woman; I wouldn't look like a woman. I was really inspired by Cait though, and I considered it.

A little before Cait's post went live, I bought a dress with a cutout on the back. Even wearing my transparent-back bra, it looked ridiculous. This dress requited me to go braless, but I couldn't do that! Then I saw Cait's post, and it really got me thinking. Could I? Should I? I bought an adhesive bra and some nipple covers to wear with this dress, see which I prefered, and last week, I gave them a go. The adhesive bra fell off in seconds. Nervously, I tried the nipple covers, put on my dress, and looked in the mirror. And I didn't look awful! My boobs were there - small, but there! And it was such a relief. I didn't have to worry about my strapless bra falling, I didn't have to worry about my bra straps feeling uncomfortable. I felt free, and strangely confident, like I was finally accepting my boobs, saying, "They're small, but that's ok!" It was strange how quickly I forgot I wasn't wearing a bra, how I wasn't feeling self-conscious, how I just got on with my day, leaving the house without a thought. It was wonderful! And though I do still wear a bra, I no longer worry about not wearing a bra when I choose not to.

Also, as the years have gone on, I've learnt that having small boobs doesn't make me unattractive. Sure, my small boobs might mean I'm not noticed by those men who talk about women with big boobs, but do I really want to be noticed by those men? No, I absolutely do not. The ones that have noticed me? The size of my boobs doesn't matter. They don't fancy me because I have small boobs, they fancy me because of the whole package that is me: how I look and who I am.

Having small boobs is no longer something I worry about, or even think about. I'm happy with my boobs, with my body, with how I look, and I don't really care what anyone else thinks.

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No judgment, no hate, because it is already tough enough being a girl.