Breasts, boobs, gozangas, mammary glands; whatever you call them, every woman has them. Some are small, some are large, some are natural, some are enhanced, and one is generally bigger than the other. As a young girl, I had no need for them. I looked around at my family, and I worried. I came from a very extensive group of large-breasted women. I hoped that as I passed the ages of 13 and 14 and still didn’t fill out a large cup size, that I was safe. I was not.
The summer between my freshman and sophomore year, my front became more robust, even more so the following year. I wore baggy sweaters and sweatshirts to conceal them. Once I graduated from high school, and put on those freshman 45 (everyone gains 45 pounds, right?), they got even bigger. I lost and gained weight pretty regularly over the following four years, but my breasts never got smaller. At their largest, I filled out an H cup.
Many of you might be reading this, crying sarcastically for the large breasted woman, but they have been more of a challenge than a blessing.
Back problems: For the last 20 years, I have had issues with my back and shoulders. After a particularly long day of standing, my lower back throbbed. My bra also pulled on my shoulders, causing deep grooves which have now become a permanent part of my physique. At one point, the pain became so constant and inhibiting, I sought out a plastic surgeon. The plastic surgeon worked closely with my insurance company, but the insurance company had me seek out the assistance of other doctors for therapy, and it became a strain on my time and my finances. The surgeon was indignant, reaching out to the insurance company and informing them that all the therapy and chiropractic care was not going to fix the issues that I faced, but the insurance company fought them. I gave up.
I’ve learned to mitigate the pain in those years since by buying different types of bras (read super ugly), as well as layering a sports bra or compression tank on top, but I continue to have those days where I have to implore my husband to give me a back massage.
Speaking of bras: Women with large breasts get slighted when it comes to our lingerie selection. Not only are appropriately sized bras very hard to find, they are often not available in anything decorative. The wide straps, full coverage, and underwire serve more for function than for fashion. Also, they are outrageously priced. I generally tend to only own a few bras at a time, replacing them only when I can’t sew in a new underwire. The last bra I purchased, ON SALE, was over $40. And it is not cute. And I’m wearing it today. Under a black sports bra.
I can’t wear tank tops: Nor should I most days, but even fat people get hot. I’ve recently worked really hard at losing a good amount of weight, and I went to Vegas in August, where it is mandatory to not wear sleeves. I bought several flowy tank tops, but had to search high and low to find layering tanks so that my bra straps and sports bra wouldn’t show under them. I would watch “Friends” and see Rachel Green gallivanting in her pajama pants and tank tops, looking completely comfortable and completely adorable. I tried once buying a tank with a shelf bra in it to wear with my super cute plaid pajama pants. I might as well not have been wearing a bra at all. I’ll stick to the old lady jammies.
Other clothing dilemmas: I also can’t wear button down shirts. To be fair, I’ve had an aversion to any shirt with buttons since I was a small child, perhaps subconsciously knowing that I would never be able to wear them as an adult. However, there have been times where I’ve wanted to look exceptionally professional and felt that a crisp white button down would do the trick. I have two options: I can buy a button down shirt that is big enough to fit my chest without gapping, meanwhile drowning me everywhere else; or I can buy one that fits me through the shoulders and midsection, and accept that at some point during the day, my bra is going to be exposed through the gap between the top buttons.
I can’t wear halter tops either because they don’t make a convertible bra that will hold the ladies up so that they aren’t improper. Speaking of improper, I wore a halter top wedding dress, with a corset bodice and LOTS of boning because of the lack of support my convertible bra provided. I looked like an extra in a Russ Meyers movie. At several points during the wedding reception, my brother in law gave me money to “cover those things up.” I’ve also tried to wear halter swimsuit tops that tie around the neck to help support them better than regular straps, only to have my neck be red and achy by the end of the day from where my strap has been placing pressure.
I have terrible posture: The saying “Stand proud and tall” has no bearing upon me. Although I am tall, I have never stood it. The mere weight of what my front is carrying drags my shoulders into a permanent slope. The few times that I have attempted to stand properly, I’ve been angrily accused of shoving my breasts in people’s faces. Sigh. Catch 22.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve worked on becoming more accepting of the body that God gave me, but I’m secretly waiting for the day that I win the Powerball. The next morning, I will be waiting outside of my plastic surgeon’s office as they open, prepared to dispense with most of my breasts. Then I will make a trip to the cute bra store and buy dozens of cute bras, followed by a trip to the tank top store to buy tank tops. I guess if you’re going to dream, dream big…..or little, as the case may be.