We are overwhelmed with emotion with all of our entries to this month’s essay contest. We laughed, we cried and had an incredibly tough time picking a winner! We want to thank all of you that took the time to write for us!
Here is the final submission from our five finalists in the Bellefleur Lingerie essay contest. Becca’s story not only touched us, it made us laugh! We love her energy and her ability to take something that isn’t the easiest to go through and find humor in it all.
Body changes and learning to love your body can be challenging but, when you get there, it’s the best feeling in the whole world. Everybody is beautiful. Thank you Becca for sharing your story with us.
Smooshed: My Boobs’ Journey to Freedom
When we were 13, most of my friends began to sprout adorable, tiny breasts. I waited longingly to cross over into the mysterious world of womanhood, curious to know how life would change once my breasts bloomed.
But it didn’t happen like that for me. There were no subtle, sweet, springtime buds. No delicate blossoming bosom. No Ann Margret softly singing How Lovely to Be A Woman. My breasts came in like Jack’s beanstalk: giant and all at once. Overnight, my awkward adolescent frame was stricken with the weight of two giant melons. “No, not like this!” I pleaded, horrified. My boobs burgeoned and my braces, glasses, acne, and ill-fitting clothes remained. How could I become invisible? Coming up with no viable solutions, I fervently prayed each night for God to make my breasts disappear.
They didn’t. Quite the opposite. They just kept growing larger and I loathed them. They burst out of B and C cups within two years. By the time I entered college, DD bras couldn’t contain the gals (I had come to think of them as entities separate from myself). One day while shopping desperately at JCPenney, I found some minimizing granny bras with 8 hooks in the back that smooshed my chest down into a lumpy uniboob. It wasn’t attractive, but at least it made me smaller. I hastily purchased the bras (likely designed by Otto Titzling himself), embarrassed to make eye contact with the cashier. From that day forward I squished my chest uncomfortably into their oppressive elastic cups and started wearing multiple shirt layers, attempting to conceal the awkward shape.
I hadn’t realized that my hatred toward my breasts had infiltrated the rest of my body, but it had. Somehow the size of my chest accentuated the imperfections of my belly, my butt, my thighs, my face, my hair. I covered up as much as I could. Behind layers of clothes, humor about the size of my knockers, and unconscious apologies about the amount of space I took up. I wouldn’t even pass by a mirror naked. The humid Midwestern summers were the hardest. I gazed longingly at tiny, perky boobs in spaghetti-strap tank tops, unconfined by bras, bouncing joyfully while I punished my own by locking them into tight elastic prisons, boob sweat rolling down into my belly button like tears.
When I moved to Seattle in 2007, a lot of things changed. I found space and freedom here to explore parts of myself that I hadn’t felt safe even acknowledging before. Drawing strength from my open-minded community, I found courage to embrace my queer identity. I began to examine feminist ideas and body-positive politics. I started expressing myself through clothes, makeup, and hip Seattle-style asymmetrical haircuts. I was finally blossoming into a self that I had repressed since I was 13. But I still didn’t know what to do with my boobs, so I kept shoving them into those evil, minimizing bras.
And then Bellefleur happened. A friend mentioned that they carried beautiful bras in larger sizes. I laughed, knowing that “larger sizes” stopped before they got to me.
Skeptical but curious, I rode the bus there one afternoon for a fitting. I was nervous. I was afraid I would unhook my granny bra and the beasts underneath would frighten the person helping me. But she didn’t flinch. She measured me without a flicker of judgment in her eye and said, “Let me go get you some bras in 34G.” I hadn’t even known there was such a thing as G! I thought the monstrosities attached to my chest exceeded the brassiere alphabet! My jaw sank further into the ground when she returned with the most beautiful, delicate garments I had ever seen. She had clearly made a mistake; there were only 2 hooks! But just to humor her, I agreed to try them on.
I must have cursed! I must have wept! Angels must have cried out! Cherubs must have drawn back the dressing room curtains as I stood there in the most beautiful piece of fabric that had ever touched my body! I could have walked out of the store topless. I bussed home smirking, trying to catch my reflection in every window, peeking down the front of my shirt to make sure my new treasure was still there. I felt sexy, and I felt like myself.
Of course I threw all of my evil granny bras away immediately and exclusively began wearing my beloved new friends. I worked in Fremont at the time and would sometimes go to Bellefleur on my lunch break just to browse and relax within its chapel walls. I stopped wearing tank tops under all of my shirts. I started wearing two piece bathing suits for the first time since childhood. I started staring at myself naked in the mirror. I discovered where my freckles and moles lived, and how my nipples looked changed throughout my cycle. The next summer I did something I never, ever imagined I would do: I biked naked in the Fremont Solstice Parade. I had finally climbed the beanstalk and faced the giants.
The road to loving our bodies is long and winding. There are deeply seated, ugly thoughts lurking in dark corners of our mind. There is the media and sexism and our own pasts to battle. That visit to Bellefleur helped me realize that I was still wasting precious energy on self-loathing that I could have been spending on so many positive things. I’ve gone on to focus my career on reproductive and sexual health. I have worked as a birth doula and an advocate for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. I’m a registered nurse, and am in school to become a midwife. I’m thrilled to support people discovering the strength and power of their bodies, and thankful to all who have supported me in my own self-discovery process. And I’m proud to continue clothing my breasts in the luxurious garments that they deserve.