Nora Ephron said that when she wrote a piece about her small breasts she became a writer. Well, I have a lot to say about having small breasts, and now’s the time for women to talk about women’s bodies.
I remember trailing behind my mom in TJ Maxx as a child, certain that someday, I’d have “perfect” breasts. Like Jennifer Love Hewitt in Heartbreakers boobs, not ones with a field of distance between the neck and the bust, and definitely not small ones. To my surprise, and dismay, puberty showed up a few short years later – I started my period at age ten, on a Sunday night, after (or presumably during) church. I think it was January 4th. I was traumatized.
The only silver lining about beginning menstruation at what felt like a freakishly young age was knowing I’d soon see a woman’s body in the mirror. But whole years came and went, and friends and family members noted my complete lack of chest. For awhile (too long), I remained confident that someday my breasts would come. Eventually, I asked my mom, “Do you think I’ll ever get boobs?” She said, “If you haven’t yet, you probably won’t.” I should’ve known the slim likelihood of acquiring more than a bump by the looks of my incredibly petite mother – but my boobs are much smaller than hers, too.
“…the audacity most people have to discuss, rate, and berate women’s breasts always surprised me."
Miraculously, listening to almost every man and boy I’ve ever encountered talk about the unattractive “mosquito bites” on other girls never made me very self-conscious. However, the audacity most people have to discuss, rate, and berate women’s breasts always surprised me. In some moments, I felt thankful, knowing that small boobs saved me from even more sexual harassment. In others, I felt uneasy, hearing women I loved punctuate frustration with weaponized whispers, “whatever, she has no boobs anyway.” I can’t say I would’ve cared if I ever heard those words directed toward me, but with my boobs being a staple of quite a few conversations, I understand the weight and wrong in defining and deriding women based on physical characteristics and cup-size.
Especially in high school and college, the size of my chest was a frequent topic of conversation among friends, acquaintances, and near strangers. People made jokes at my expense, most of which actually made me laugh. I always thought anyone would be silly not to like me simply because of my small chest.
That didn’t stop me from trying out a larger size, though. I look back and laugh at the comical padded bras I bought from Aerie – quietly questioning a company that uses only non-retouched images while selling bras so padded that they could pass as throw pillows. I didn’t wear them often, only for those special occasions that call for boobs, like Halloween.
For a long time, I sat comfortably between wishing for bigger boobs, and embracing everything as it was. I didn’t dwell on it, but I’ll never forget the first time a friend stuck up for me about them. A group of friends performing a very original routine about my positively puny boobs laughed and laughed, and one of my closest male friends said, “Okay, but have you ever thought about how ridiculous Keelan would look with big boobs? She would tip over.” Eloquence aside, it felt good to hear someone finally say that my body was fine just as it was. Any lingering doubt faded at the realization that I have the perfect boobs for me, and accepting them fully helped me appreciate why they’re actually awesome.
It doesn’t hurt when I run – ever. In fact, I didn’t know that even happened until I was older and most of my friends had trouble finding a quality sports bra.
I can see my feet (in fairness, I don’t have the experience to know if they impair the view of your feet, but always imagined they do).
“My body isn’t for a man – it’s for me.”
I don’t have to wear a bra if I don’t feel like it (praise be). Truly, I don’t think anyone should wear a bra because they are often stupidly expensive and cause more trouble for everyone than they help. If I had my way, women could walk everywhere shirtless or in whatever cool sheer shit they own unbothered by undergarments.
I especially started to love my small boobs when I acknowledged that they made clothing myself a lot easier. I rarely have to try on shirts, dresses, or jackets. Shopping with friends, I often witness when they end up not buying something wonderful because of their bigger boobs. There’s no shame in that, but I’m glad I’ve never had to worry about it. Having a small chest means seldom worrying about how exposed I am – I don’t dress for my body, I dress my body for me. With one less thing to feel self-conscious about, I felt allowed to experiment with style. Feeling liberated from certain norms helped teach me to celebrate all women’s bodies, wanting to champion the idea that everyone should wear whatever they want – whatever they feel looks good instead of what someone else, or society, requires.
The privilege of never feeling like I have to dress up or dress down my chest gave me room to see my body, myself. I’ve honestly never worried about a guy liking my boobs, because I didn’t care whether or not they did. My body isn’t for a man – it’s for me. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.