loading
drag

How I came to embrace my big boobs

ILLUSTRATION BY TWYLAMAE
WORDS BY JASMINE WALLIS

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried in changing rooms. 

People create art about them, they feed and nurture babies, and as my mother says, “People pay a lot of money to have them.”

My journey with my breasts has been contentious, to say the least.  

I got my first bra at age 11, before high school, just as periods were becoming a reality among my friends. Mum looked at me one day in my primary school uniform, the buds of puberty obvious, and said, “We should get you a training bra”. 

This was 2007. The Pussycat Dolls reigned and Jessica Simpson washed her car in her string bikini. I was also an avid Lizzie McGuire watcher and felt it deep in my soul when she yells at her mum in the kitchen “I want a bra!”.

Boobs were exciting. It meant I was growing up, becoming a teenager, the best years of my life full of biology classes, boys and black-lace undergarments. 

I remember looking over my shoulder as we walked into Bras N Things, to see if anyone from my grade would witness the moment I became a “woman”. I got fitted with the tape measure, my mum and the sales girl chatting excitedly, bonding over the entry of a new woman into their ranks. 

“We’re not going to get you a training bra today,” the saleswoman said and my heart dropped. “You’re actually a B cup! You’re going to get something more supportive.”

She handed me a beige coloured, semi-padded bra. Looking back it was the most innocuous bra I’d ever seen, but to an 11-year-old girl, it was the best thing I’d ever been bought. 

 Walking into school on Monday, my head held high, my friends wowed and gasped over my new womanhood. I was an early bloomer and they were jealous.

I felt powerful that year, being the first to get a bra and, a few months later, the first to get my period before starting Year 7. But that’s about where the feeling ended. For close to all of the next decade, I had mixed reactions to the two lumps of fat that sat on my chest. 

The tables turned from my friends being jealous of my Bras ‘n Things purchase to me almost tearing up over how cheaply they could buy their cute, young, patterned bras from Cotton On Body, while I was resigned to designs for the grandmas. 

It’s not just limited to underwear, I also struggle with swimwear shopping. I have to take deep calming breaths just to write about it and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried in changing rooms from the anxiety of trying on a set of bathers. 

The thoughts run like so: You don’t want to look frumpy in that one piece. Show too much boob and you’ll be asking for men to approach you. Will you be able to play in the waves? Or will you have to lay still on a towel the whole day because you’re petrified you’re going to flash an accidental nipple to innocent children? 

From that first bra purchase, every year my chest would grow and grow and the anxieties and contradictions inflated. Everything felt related to them: girlfriends exclaiming my luck, new swimmer tops digging into my sides, boys snapping my straps in class, ill-fitting school uniforms bunching at my torso and jutting out at my breasts making my stomach look larger than it was, enduring cat-calls from men in passing cars as I walked to the shopping centre with my 13-year-old peers.  

When I got to Year 12, boys thought I’d be easier to sleep with. Don’t even get me started on running in PE in front of a group of 15-year-old boys.

Maturing at a young age made me be more conscious of my place in the world. My breasts hyper-sexualised me at such a young age that I rarely accentuated them. Growing up stopped being exciting, and instead became kind of frightening. It was like my teenage body was growing ahead of itself and I was chasing behind, wanting to catch up but not wanting the responsibility that came with DD cups.

I watched my mother, a fellow E-cup, embrace her body shape. Still today, she wears blazers cinched in at the waist, stilettos to her board meetings and form-fitting dresses that accentuate every curve in her figure. She thrives on dressing up and knowing how to work with what she’s got.

I, on the other hand, was trapped in the grip of adolescent conformity, and wore only what my friends were wearing.

Last year, a swimwear brand swooped in to save the day (and my body confidence). Raq Apparel was started by Sophia Argyropolous, a woman with big boobs who has also struggled to find fun, youthful swimmers. It has grown into a whole community of big-boobed beauties rocking their string bikinis and feeling supported, literally and metaphorically.  

An ASOS Insider, podcast creator and Global Social Media Manager, Lotte Williams, has been a big part of my decision to embrace my E cup. In a recent Instagram post she vocalised some of her struggles.  

It ends with the declaration: “And anyone #blessed with a larger-than-average chest should be allowed to embrace their body, in real life and on here, without judgement.” 

This got me fired up. I realised the patriarchy had gaslit me into being scared and ashamed about my body, sending me mixed messages about what was sexy and desirable and grown-up and appropriate since before I was a teenager. 

Seeing Lotte, a fashionable, professional woman, wear amazing, stylish outfits that show off her curves rather than trying to downplay them has been a development in my journey. I have found myself being excited by fashion again, rather than viewing it as a chore.

It could also come with becoming an adult and growing into myself as a woman, both psychologically and physically. So these days I don’t shy away from the low cut tops, or more revealing dresses.  

And as my glamorous mum says, “Some women pay a lot of money to have breasts like ours, darling.”

Lazy Loading