I remember the first bra my mum ever bought me. It was 28 AAA, we were in France, and it was from Cacharel. The years that followed were full of tissue stuffing, Wonderbras, and chicken fillets. I loved that when I wore them, boys would look at my chest—a proper novelty when you're 6 feet tall and grew up lanky.
One night wearing said fillets and dancing in a club with a man old enough to be my dad, they flew out from under my top and got stomped on by a plethora of spiky heels. As I looked down at the exploded silicone, I knew my false-advertising bra days were over. Walking around with two lies on my chest had become counterintuitive.
I blame science for those fraught early years. We were taught that bras keep our chests perky and our backs from caving in. Statistics became a metaphorical symbol against sagging and backache, but why was I underwiring and wrapping my lady lumps anyway? I mean, I ain't got nothing to droop. I wore one because everyone else did.
I try to go braless sometimes, but I often feel self-conscious about my nipples in social situations. But maybe it's time to get over that. I think it all comes down to how you feel about your breasts. Nowadays I like mine. They're not the best pair I have ever seen, nor are they the worst.
The way we think about our bodies has dramatically shifted, and maybe that's why I've come to accept my small breasts. When I saw Laura Dodsworth's book Bare Reality: 100 Women, Their Breasts, Their Stories, a graphic dichotomy between women's personal lives and how they are depicted in the media, it struck a chord. The inevitable result of Laura being a woman, a feminist, and a photographer of bosoms is starkly beautiful. I wasn't even looking at the exposed flesh but more that unairbrushed breasts seem to be so rare these days. I dug it. A lot. And, what's more, I know I'm lucky—I still have two healthy breasts.
I hope we can change the way we feel about breasts, about the conversation around them with the men in our lives, about the intimacy they provoke. One of the world's most discussed, displayed, and desired body parts needs new words. What do you think?
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