Astries, Bazookas, Bongoes, Cha-Chas, Dingos, Ear Muffs, Fog Lights, Gazongas, Hush Puppies, Jibs, Kongas, Lulu’s, Milk Shakes, Nancies, Oompas, Pillows, Rib Cushions, Spark Plugs, Tatas, Umlauts, Wahwahs, and Zingers.
Wow. This list truly speaks to the true creativity of the male mind.
But it’s not just men. Sometimes I think we all might be slightly obsessed with breasts, and I’m not quite sure why. I once had a friend tell me that I could rule the entire world, with no other qualifications than my cup size. His comment was completely inappropriate, but still interesting. Why did we get so obsessive about something as boring as breasts? And why is that some cultures don’t even seem to notice them? (Think of pictures you’ve seen in National Geographic of topless women in Africa or South America and compare that to the craziness that surrounded Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” here in the states).
Every woman has some kind of relationships with her breasts, and I am no exception. And as weird as this is going to sound, I am going to tell you my life history through The Girls.
As a teenager I was a serious ballerina. I took classes every day and in the summers danced for 40 hours a week. This all changed when my family moved to Europe. Suddenly I was dancing a lot less and eating a lot more. During my first summer there I gained 10+ lbs and a brand new set of boobs (that I am still convinced may be made up completely of gelato). I had always considered myself very graceful, but this new addition, which came on fast, completely threw me off and I started falling down constantly. I fell down the stairs, I fell up the stairs, and occasionally I fell under the stairs. Soon my mom started to recognize the sound of me by a crash. I also started spilling yogurt on my shirt constantly. I think there were about 11 full days of my sophomore year that I didn’t have yogurt on the front of my shirt.
I was a bit traumatized. Where had these things come from? And from whom? I am not from a family of large-chested woman and I was concerned that I was some kind of freakish fluke. After some digging I learned that one of my Italian grandmothers was a bout 4’11”, with a very large chest. Apparently I have May Pearl Zitto to thank.
I think I was one of about 7 girls in my entire (tiny) school above a B cup, and along with my new balancing act I suddenly had a lot of attention I had no idea how to deal with. This ranged from the immature (year–long games of groups of boys trying to throw rocks down my shirt) to the offensive (being groped onstage during a school play). I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to like this attention or not. It made me uncomfortable but it also seemed like most of the girls wanted attention, so wasn’t I supposed to be enjoying it? Most days I wanted to shove at least 3 different guys into the bushes, but in general I just laughed it off. And got more and more bugged. Yay repression.
One day after school my Vespa ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere. And I mean nowhere. I was somewhere in the rolling hills of Tuscany, and no one was going to find me. I tried calling my family but as usual the phone line was so I started pushing my Vespa. Remember when I said rolling hills? I meant it. I pushed that stupid scooter up and down hills for what felt like miles. Almost every car that drove past me honked, but no one was stopping to help. Finally, when my arms were killing and I didn’t think I could make it one more step I did what I had to do. I took off my coat to reveal a tight shirt. The next car pulled over.
I’m going to go ahead and admit I’ve repeated variations on this maneuver since.
After high school I moved back home and started hanging out with a guy who 5 years later would become my husband. Once we started spending all our time together he told his friends about me and they gave their blessing with the following: “Jenna? She has big ol’ boobies.”
Thanks guys. A glowing review.
When I was 20 I finally told myself I had to go to the doctor. For several months I’d felt a lump in my left breast and I knew it wasn’t going away. I made an appointment with my doctor while I was home from ASU for Christmas break. The doctor assured me it was going to be fine, but he wanted to take an X-Ray to see what it looked like. After he saw the x-ray he told me that it didn’t look fine and that I needed to have surgery. Soon. The lump was solid so they wouldn’t be able to tell me if it was malignant or benign without a biopsy.
That was a really awful moment. I remember sitting in my car thinking, what if I am 20 years old and have breast cancer? How many times have I passed billboards and thought, that will never be me?
I was supposed to be getting on the road to meet my then boyfriend in Las Vegas but instead I met with a surgeon. A few days later I was laying in the recovery room of the hospital deliriously trying to convince my mom that what I really needed was a banana split. Once I was coherent (and had eaten my ice cream) the doctors told me that what they had thought was a small lump had actually turned out to be the size of a golf ball. I know. Traumatizing.
But it was a benign golf ball. And somehow, my only memento of the occasion is a scar that I almost never notice. A few weeks later, when my stitches were out and my bruising had gone down a friend hugged me with a golf ball in the left breast pocket of his shirt. I laughed for a straight 15 minutes.
My sophomore year of college I began a job nannying for an adorable 3 year old boy (this is not the NYC boy I talked about in an earlier post) who I’ll call Will. His mom was stick-straight triathlete. So was his previous nanny, and I perplexed him to no end. One day Will pointed to my chest and said “Jenna, what’s that?” I wasn’t totally comfortable with his parents yet and wasn’t sure how they’d want me to respond, so I practiced the distraction technique. “It’s just my body,” I said cheerfully. “Want to play trucks?”
But the question continued, and soon I could tell he had really been thinking. “Jenna, you have a big tummy,” he said to me one day, patting my chest knowingly. “You had a lot of lunch.” Another day he was sure he knew the answer. Jenna,” he said. “You have a baby in your tummy.”
Finally one day he’d had enough. I clearly wasn’t giving him the answers he needed, so he took matters into his own hands. Literally. While we sat on the floor reading stories he suddenly stood up, grabbed the neckline of my shirt and yelled “JENNA, WHAT IS THAT?” before looking down my shirt. And that is how I introduced a 3 year old to breasts.
This is about to be TMI, so please skip ahead if you’d like. I warned you.
One day I was washing the dishes and David came home, walked up behind me, and performed the Kitchen Sink Grope. You know what I’m talking about. It had happened about a thousand times before but this was the first time I’d actually given it a name. Not only that, but our sink was in front of the kitchen window and I just knew that one day a small child was going to see this and be traumatized. I decided it was time to lay down the law. I whirled around, pointed a soapy finger in his face, and said, “How would you like it, if I just walked around grabbing you all the time?”
I’m sure you can guess his response.
Today, I am generally happy with my size. I don’t fall down (much) and have found the world’s greatest sports bra ($70, but well worth it). As for me, I am trying to be extra accepting. It’s interesting to me how often other girls will tell me how lucky I am when I’m thinking the same thing about them. Will we ever learn to be happy with what we’ve got? I’m going to try. Even if the bras in my size at Victoria’s Secret sort of remind me of utility belts.