Titty Talk: I’m Not Comfortable in my Body

8 years old, Cash Money was just starting their takeover of the 99 not yet the 2000. Ally and I would watch her Spice World movie on VHS, then creep down to her basement to shut the door and practice twerking. Nothing made our knock-kneed selves squat and pop like Lil Wayne mumbling wobbledy wobbledy drop it like it’s hot. Sweaty and laughing for the most intense 4 minutes we could imagine, afterwards we would get ready for bed and examine each other’s nipples. One of us had darker and puffier nipples. Inquisitive. Uninhibited. My body was just there, and I didn’t give our actions any sort of thought. That was one of the last times I remember feeling comfortable in my body, a neutrality I couldn’t appreciate at the time.

By 10 years old, I was somewhere around a C cup. My boobs hadn’t sprouted overnight, but close to it. I had worn training bras the year before, but there was barely a mound that needed training. The curvature of hips to come were starting to round themselves out. Never a fan of wearing baggy clothes, my shirts and jeans clung to the flesh spilling out of my bra.

A shockingly burly and surly preteen, confused by the stares and attention, the taunting, poking and prodding, I oftentimes walked around with my arms crossed. On the playground during recess, I volunteered as a peer monitor, not out of any real sense of responsibility but because that was the only way I could think of to stay still. Playing tether-ball, double dutch (my fave), basketball or on the swings, somehow my boobs got in the way. They bounced and jiggled their way out of that boob holster of a bra, with a mind and determination of their own. Perfect recipe for playground bullying. The rest of my prepubescent peers would grab them, squeeze and pinch, rub my nipples till they hardened and laugh at the freakish, rapid response of it all. Since I couldn’t get out of recess, I repeatedly asked my teacher if I could be a monitor so I could stand on the edges and look at everyone else running around with gloriously flat chests. Whether in my school uniform or jeans and a T-shirt, my arms formed an eternal X and lips pouted. Family members, as they dragged me to grocery stores and other after-work and weekend errands, lectured how crossing my arms made my breasts bigger. With an eye roll and internal huff, I hugged myself tighter.

You like that attention, don’t you? Always wanna lather more lip gloss on lookin grown, wanna show off your breasts and you need to stop wearin those shirts. Always want people lookin atchu.

At me? What attention? I was 10.

By 8th grade, I was a double D cup but now my hips and stomach had also grown horizontally. On the Metro bus ride to and from school, or with my half-sister jaunting around the neighborhood, my boobs in their ill-fitting bra would jump with each sudden stop or ride through a pothole. I convinced myself that all Metro bus drivers drove purposely to increase the jiggle. Walking back and forth from the grocery store, whether sent on an errand or to spend my lunch money, men would shout out from car windows:

Hey! Hey you in the blue with the ponytail. How old are you?

Dressed the same as the teenage boys of my neighborhood, with knock off Kangols, Phat Farm, tall tees and sagging jeans, all white Air Forces or whatever Nikes were just released, I couldn’t really differentiate adult men unless they had gray hair or visible wrinkles. Most of them did, their crow’s feet and smile lines more apparent as they squinted, grunted, licked their lips and yelled for the Girl in the Blue.

Shit. Can’t even walk to the store without my boobs getting me in trouble. I had been called a slut by classmates and faux friends, neighborhood boys who groped me as I picked flowers at the dog park. It was all the same, packaged with different tongues but the same infliction and venomous tone: you just want the attention. That’s why you wear them tight clothes. You know you like it.

Enter high school, and my G cups were contained underneath turtlenecks and hoodies. I wasn’t the only one with breasts or hips or some other physical marker of puberty. But I was still self-conscious when I stretched and yawned in the hallway, when I saw male teachers frequently glancing down and peeking when I adjusted an uncomfortable bra strap, when a classmate flicked my boobs to watch them bounce up then down in the middle of freshman Language Arts. As he laughed, I turned red and wondered why. What attention was I asking for?

High school and undergrad brought mental and sexual assaults, explained away by everyone I told as something that just happened in relationships. What was I expecting, as a sexually active human involved with another sexually active human? I had to know that my frame lent itself to longing libido, and that’s just what happened when two people were involved. Explained with such absolute conviction, I swallowed my questions, yearning for connection and thought it was now fine since I was technically over 18.

It wasn’t. The sexualizing and outward desire of a minor. The lack of body autonomy, consent and respecting personal boundaries. By around 19, I despised my body. I loathed how hard it was to find shirts that fit properly over my breasts, a few tops just ripped or couldn’t be tug over, random jeans and pants firmly stopped at my thighs, my stomach poked out and jiggled its way into an introduction no matter the scenario. The few times I ventured to Ross Dress for Less, Target, looking for lingerie and teddies there was often something slightly off about the fit. Where my breasts supposed to hang that low? Did that much flesh usually slide out the sides at the top? I thought the point was that your boobs were supposed to be under lacy wraps until you intentionally let them out. Ugh- it was all a vessel for judgment, an invitation for someone else to exert physical dominance.

I think the biggest thing trauma does is affect how we navigate the world and interact with other people. Being taught my body isn’t for me or isn’t a functional mix of organs, tendons and whatever else, but rather for the consumption and voyeuristic peeking of older men made me want to cover up the sin.

I stayed inside, both rarely leaving wherever I was living at the time and inside my head because often when I opened my mouth to talk about the increased back pain, digging and marks on my shoulders, how dahell did my cups grow into a size L and bras were only found online, we somehow landed at sex. Baffled and floundering at the miscommunication and blaming myself, I wanted to scream more of an explanation than anything else:

No I don’t want you to titty fuck me. I was talking about a bra that fits; don’t force yourself on me. If I wanted segzy time, I woulda made that clear. If I wanted to show you my boobs, I certainly know how to do so.

Years after undergrad, after more toxic relationships and situationships, after weight loss, weight gain, medical diagnoses, stress and more cocktails of things that would change my body physically, I’m trying to land somewhere in the body neutrality realm. Honestly, I’m still uncomfortable with my body but working towards being able to respect my body without assigning positive or negative emotions about it.

How do you feel about your body? What are you working towards? Holla at a homie 🙂

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