The year was 1990. I was strolling along the beach, talking and laughing with my friends. My fifteen-year-old self was wearing a bikini (as you do, when you’re a teenager at the beach) when suddenly a twenty-something guy, walking solo, bumped into my right shoulder. This guy had been staring so hard at my boobs that he’d rammed right into me. It was all very awkward and my friends and I did what teen girls do. We started laughing. The guy, not knowing what to say, muttered the words: “Fuck off,” and waddled away in a huff.
Fuck off?! Was I to blame for his behaviour? I didn’t think so yet I couldn’t help but receive the usual message: My big boobs bring out the asshole-side of men and dealing with assholes sucks.
So, I decided if I didn’t want to be viewed as a “sex-object” and if I hoped to avoid assholes, then I needed to downplay my chest. After all, I wanted to be taken seriously!
I’d kicked off my high-school experience, in grade nine, with my DD lady humps hidden beneath tucked-in sweaters and baggy dress shirts. 1989 was an ideal year for top-heavy girls, like me. But, I wasn’t fooling anybody. People knew what was under there, despite the baggy layers. In fact, “big boobs” was part of the verbal description, shared by those who knew me. “You know, Shannon. The short one with the curly hair and big boobs.” (Not quite the bio I’d have picked.)
But I was short, with curly hair, and big boobs. There was no denying it. And, I’m pretty sure the existence of my not-so-secret bosoms lead some of the older boys to my locker to say “hellooooo,” which, in turn, resulted in the narrowed stares from an older girl or five. (Reminding me, yet again, that my boobs bring-on unwanted bullshit.) But, I was fourteen-years-old, a Pee-Wee Herman die-hard for fuck sakes; not at all interested in living up to what might be expected or assumed of me or my body.
So somewhat hidden, and well wrapped, is how I kept them. And, as it turns out, keeping the boobs at bay served me well, I guess… if the goal was to get a stamp of approval that read: “You are the kind of girl a boy can take home to Mom.” And so it began, my bid to be that kind of girl that boys took “seriously;” the kind of girl they committed to. And then, somewhere along the way, the act of being someone’s girlfriend became too much a part of my identity. Somehow, I ended up caring so much what boys thought of me that my worth was intertwined with being a boy’s girlfriend.
I knew this was limiting me and I vowed to change it.
In my early twenties, I worked hard to shed that need, that weakness. I wanted to be comfortable on my own, to lose the desire for approval, and to take charge of my self-worth. In time, I was able to. And, shedding those confines was a milestone for me; one that has given me a much stronger base from which to go through life.
And now, I’m forty-one. The year is 2016. I’ve discovered, these past few years, that I quite like my boobs! And, I’m comfortable in letting them be what they are: big. I don’t downplay them anymore. Nor do I try to hide them. Sometimes (*gasp*) I even feature them with low, revealing necklines. I don’t do this because I want guys to notice them. (I have never wanted that!) I do it because I actually don’t give a shit if they do. I’ve realized that other people’s assumptions, judgments, and opinions about my body is their problem. It’s not mine. Because in little ways, throughout this journey toward midlife, I’ve gotten wiser. I’ve become more in tune with myself, and less concerned with what our male-dominated society thinks.
I dismiss the notion that I might be taken less seriously because of a pair of breasts. And I also let go of the ideal that I need to be a “certain type of pretty.” In fact this notion fades in perfect timing with the arrival of each new wrinkle. This must be a part of the aging process; letting go of past ideals and pressures and embracing new, more relevant, ones.
And, I can honestly say, I like my forty-something boobs much more than my twenty-something boobs because the woman behind them knows exactly who she is and she has nothing to prove.
I’m quite enjoying the wisdom that this journey toward midlife brings and I look forward to the lessons yet to come.
** Slides off practical footwear, puts feet up, and raises a dirty martini. Condensation drips from the glass and slides gracefully into my ever-so-slightly wrinkled (and fabulous) cleavage. **