Every woman spends hours and hours of her life taking care of her body, pampering it, stressing about it, crying over it, and rarely does she get to talk about it. Part of the point of the Hourglass Symposium is to share the untold stories of the female form. This one is mine...
Most people's first impression of me is, "damn, she has big boobs". Their second impression of me is, "she's short". As you can imagine, standing at 5'2" and carrying the weight of a 28G bra size, I'm a bit disproportional. It took me a long time to both recognize and come to terms with my beauty.
When I was little, I was one of the 3 shortest girls in my class. Kate, Leigh, and I all raced each other throughout grade school- sometimes I was in lead as the tallest of the three, other times I was behind as the shortest. Not many people noticed me, especially guys. In a class with a 2/1 girl to guy ratio, I was drowned out by all the tall and quickly developed girls. my height sometimes did play a roll when girls would speak over my head. I was in a forest of giants.
I remember in grade school I would lock my bedroom door and dress myself up in a sheet that I'd fashion into a gown, and I'd smoosh my small pathetic bumps behind my nipples together to form what sort of looked like cleavage. When I played with Stephanie in her basement, I would sometimes fashion boobs for myself made of old hand kerchiefs so that I could look like Catherine Zeta Jones while we played "Zorro". Her sister was well endowed, I remember wanting to be like her one day.
I talked to a guy I went to school with named Scott years later, and asked him what people's impression of me in grade school was, he answered, "honestly there was no impression. No one really noticed you until high school when you got boobs."
I believe it.
Now, for a second, imagine you have been invisible your entire life, to men and women alike; and then all the sudden, SMACK out of thin air, they can't stop staring at you.
It seemed like I grew breasts over night. Because my breasts grew so rapidly, I awful red stretch marks crawled up my breasts. They looked like someone had repeatedly cut open my boobs with a knife and I was afraid that I would have them forever. Every night for about 2 years I applied a vitamin e cream to my chest before I went to bed, I'd even stretch the skin horizontally with my fingers because sometimes when i did that, the red would become white and less noticeable. Thankfully they disappeared!
But even with the stretchmarks, I didn't realize I had big boobs until I started getting all the attention. My mom and aunt would talk about how my cousins and I were so much more well endowed than them and made a big deal over it, and then I started getting attention from strangers. I was 15 and I wore my beautiful brand new robins egg blue V-neck top when I went to a play with my Mom and sisters, my mom looked out into the distance like a hawk while she walked a bit strange and sometimes blocked my way. "What is wrong?" "That old guy can't stop staring at your chest," she said. I glanced over, and sure enough there was an old man, hunched over, skin hanging from his bones, his icy grey eyes locked on my breasts. I crossed my arms and hid them as best as I could behind my playbill. I felt dirty. To be that young and knowing that some creeper man old enough to be your grandfather is imagining feeling you up and sticking his withered old penis until your virgin vagina is terrifying. It felt like my clothes were being teared off with his eyes, then my skin was being picked apart by his greedy nails. I felt like a hundred eyes were staring at me naked and worst of all, I no longer was pretty in my new robins egg blue V-neck shirt, anyone who looked at me now would see a slut instead of a Grace Kelly.
It started happening more and more. I think the vultures can smell innocence as easy scraps. For example, at a carnival a sleazy guy in his 20's pretended to bump into me while sliding his hand around the curve of my ass. I didn't even think my ass was that special. I grabbed his hand away, squeezed hard and stared him in the eyes and said, "not cool". I was trying to be authoritative. I don't know if my acting worked... he sauntered away but I still felt gross again.
I seldom told my friends about the whistles and catcalls I got, the stares, and cheap feels in a crowd. I didn't want them to think I was exaggerating or making it up, It happened that often. I also didn't think they'd understand. Maybe i was wrong, maybe I was right. I was caught in the middle of feeling like I've finally grown into a woman and having the attention of people noticing me- a part of me liked feeling sexy for once in my life, but at the same time I felt violated and used... and worst of all I didn't know how to handle myself in those situations.
My diary from high school is filled to the brim of me being frustrated with men because they'd stare at me and "devour me with their eyes", but no one ever wanted to date me. I didn't know how to be sexy or flirt... sometimes I would awkwardly try and fail miserably. I tried to flirt with Sebastian once. I hope he doesn't remember that because it was EXTREMELY embarrassing.
I wanted to be seen as an Audrey Hepburn or a Grace Kelly... they were my two favorite actresses at the time and I found them to be so classy and gorgeous, but they had small breasts, and i could never be like them. Instead people would just see me=big boobs= slutty secretary. I would watch cartoons and movies and they always would cast the classy heroine as small chested, and the slutty one with big breasts. I would often frantically search google for pictures of female celebrities who had both natural big breasts and class, just to prove to myself that I could have both. They were hard to find. I collected pictures of Selma Hayek and Sophia Loren... who btw has the most extreme 8 shaped body in the world... I have NEVER seen anyone in pictures or real life who has a body that literally looks like an hourglass like she does.
Once I grew to be a what I thought was a 34DD, I felt ugly and hideous. My boobs were so large and disproportional to my body and they hung so low, even with my bra on. When I went into stores and tried on clothes, nothing would fit- I had a saggy old woman's body. I couldn't shop at Victoria's Secret or the junior sections of stores, I had to go to the old lady section to find clothes. I'd be in tears over my looks, frustrated that there literally were no bathing suits that would fit me, and bras were impossible to find.
Then, my junior year of high school, my Mom and I went to Tina's Closet in Lisle and my chest and my self esteem were uplifted forever. It's a privately owned store that focuses of truly making bras, bathing suits, and various shape shifters fit on their clients. I went into the changing room, was measured and the saleswoman said, "You're a not a 34DD, you are a 28F." My mom and I stared wide eyed in disbelief... we had never even heard of an "F" size before. They taught me about bras and set me up with a couple new bras and my entire world changed. There is nothing more important to a woman's outfit than a good bra, one that works for her body and supports her. My breasts no longer looked saggy, I could go into stores and find clothes that actually looked good on my body. It was a miracle. Most women actually wear the wrong bra size... it's a shame that so many women don't know much about their own chest- how to measure it, how to calculate their size. I'll write another post about bra sizes eventually.
Now, this doesn't mean I never had issues with clothes and bathing suits again. To this day, it's still difficult to find shirts, dresses, and bathing suits that fit me. All of my bras and bathing suits are bought and customized at Tina's Closet. Sometimes they have to take them in a couple inches because the bra companies don't sell my exact size. So I'll have a bra that says on the tag it's a 30G, but they've taken it in 2 inches to make it a 28G. It's taken me a long time to figure out what clothing styles work for my body, sometimes I still experiment. It's not so much a question of fashion as it is what works. Usually what's in fashion doesn't work for my hourglass. I still get frustrated that I have to go to Tina's closet for bathing suits... I only have her selection to work with. I wish I could go into any store, pick up a standard string bikini and just wear it. Bathing suits and bras for me require trying them on, being remeasured, waiting a week for them to be tailored and customized, and then worn. It's a frustrating process, but I'm fortunate to live somewhere close to options. I've seen many women at the beach with beautiful breasts that just don't fit into their bathing suits and they are hanging out and look awful, probably because that was the best they could find.
Once I hit my senior year of high school, I finally saw myself as beautiful. I still hadn't come to terms with my body yet... I still had back pains and a difficulty finding clothes, but I recognized that i was unique. I learned to actually talk to guys, got a boyfriend. Creepers stopped creeping on me as much. I think that because I was more mature, they could almost smell that I could handle myself better and that I wasn't easy pickings. I think it helped that I had a lot of guy friends and a boyfriend. I liked walking with them because if I noticed someone staring, I could take a step to the side and hide behind them. Then when you have a boyfriend walking beside you, most people don't even bother to stare and it's not a problem it all. It was weird, I relied on them so much for protection against staring and they never even noticed it.
But it was bad because I got to the point when I felt unsafe to walk without a guy there. I didn't tell many people this because I knew I was overreacting, but it was a real wake up call to learn how to be independent and confident in myself when i went to college and had to walk alone. I can walk alone now, don't worry. :)
In college, people talked about my boobs a lot. I'd have girls and guys alike call me up and say, "hey we are having a debate about your bra-size, what is it again?" or "We just were talking about your boobs the other day..." you think I'm kidding but I'm not. I really hated it because eventually girls would start to feel intimidated by me because of my chest. Apparently it was my entire goal in life to steal men from their grasp. Kim was a prime example of this. We were at a concert and we all just stood listening to band, and I was bored so I spotted a guy named Hugh I had met at school. I went over and talked to him and he told me about the band because he knew some of the members. Well for the next couple days Kim didn't talk to me at all, and I found out the reason why is because she felt I was trying to steal him away from her. They weren't even dating! She didn't know him any more than I did. She had absolutely no claim on him. On another occasion she called me a "slutbag whore" for the sole reason that I found Jensen Ackles attractive. Next, we were on a train talking about how Kim had been flirting with a tall thin guy who was an amateur model, She said, "I don't know if I find him attractive, I go for a guy who is tubbier with more meat on them." I responded, "oh, he is my ideal body type, I like skinny guys" and then she snapped at me and yelled in my face, "WELL YOU CAN'T HAVE HIM!"
I also spent Halloween with some guy friends from theatre and their girlfriends. I was going to dress up as a pirate- I had a beautiful costume all planned out, but then I found out that one of the couples was going as pirates and I was sensitive to that and I didn't want to make anyone feel jealous or awkward (girls can be weird about such things), so I changed just hours before into a Russian Supermodel costume. The girls clearly didn't like me. In the bathroom they looked me up and down and said, "So you are the one they talk about with the big boobs." Can't imagine the cattiness that would happen if i wore my pirate costume.
I hate cattiness. I hate the stupid attention and stereotypes that people formulate when they see me. It frustrates me a lot. But I've gotten over it for the most part, I realize that it's their problem and not mine. It still hurts. There are so many times that I try to play myself down and step out of the way so that girls won't feel intimidated by me. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I probably care too much about it than I should.
Another huge thing I wrestle with is this: it's good to acknowledge and be confident in your beauty, but it's bad to be conceited about it. For some reason it seems easier to be a guy to have the attitude of, "I'm hot and I know it." It's seen as a good thing. And it is a good thing. If a girl thinks, "I'm hot and I know it" it can often be taken as she is conceited, bitchy, a whore. Where is that line between confidence and conceit?
I've been talking about so many negatives about having large boobs and considering myself attractive but there are positives. It can be fun sometimes! I receive free meals or tea on occasion, I get compliments a lot. Some of them have made me smile ear to ear. One woman was walking past me and stopped dead in her tracks and said, "Are you a model? You are so beautiful!" I've been called "Movie Star" before. But one of the most flattering things is that a lot of my friends associate me with Audrey Hepburn. I don't know if they realize the full extent of what that means to me. As I mentioned previously, I have admired her beauty and class ever since I was little and first saw "My Fair Lady" and "Breakfast at Tiffanies". Some of my friends have their phone ringtone for me as the song "Breakfast at Tiffanies". The fact that some people associate me with her means the world to me in my own silly way.
I still don't mention many of my compliments that I get and catcalls and such to my friends. I'm constantly worried that people will view me as conceited or a slut. I try to walk the line of being confident with myself but handle myself with grace. Some days I succeed better than others. I try to compliment people as much as I can, because I know how good it feels... but a compliment is worthless unless it is genuine. It must be genuine.
I never feel more beautiful than when my hair is long and sun-stained form the summer and the wind catches in and tangles it how he feels fit. I like to walk as if I'm Eowyn on top of Edoras in a white dress standing still while the wind races passed her. Sometimes when I'm lonely or having a bad day, I'll make myself look like a bombshell and saunter silently throughout a public place, just to get checked out by passers by. It probably sounds vain but I don't care, I'm human and I'm being honest.
I recognize that I'm not the most beautiful woman in the world. I am disproportional, sometimes I wish my strong arms and legs were more slender, I still have a bit of achne, sometimes I get sick of the way my face looks, my one eye is weaker than the other, I don't like the way my nose looks from the side, my lips are too small, when I smile I see my grandma in my face because we have the same jawline and smile, I have a scar on my chin from stitches, and I still have my chicken pox scar on my forehead. But you know what? Why focus on all these petty negatives. Every woman on the planet could list off a dozen things they don't like about their body, but in the end, passerby just sees someone them as beautiful and they don't notice the "flaws". It's pointless to stress about the things we can't change. So I don't. And neither should anyone else.
Sometimes I wonder what it will be like when I'm old and wrinkly. Hopefully I'll be a different kind of beautiful. I don't want to be one of those old women who lament being beautiful and feel they are worthless and nothing without their looks. That's why it's so important for me to define myself as a writer, a thinker, a philosopher, an artist... so that I know that no matter what happens to me physically, I am still lovely Laura.
This isn't the most interesting of stories of the female form, but it is mine. Maybe you learned something about me for the body in general that you never knew or even thought about before. Every woman spends hours and hours of her life taking care of her body, pampering it, stressing about it, crying over it, and rarely does she get to talk about it. I have several women who have expressed an interest in sharing their stories about their body, each story unique and begging to be told. If you would like the story of your body told, even anonymously, let me know, and I would be more than happy to add you to the Hourglass Symposium.