I don’t know if my breasts were always different sizes, but I’d like to think that I was a self-conscious enough teenager to notice any slight abnormality on my body. However, it wasn’t until a slumber party when I was 14 that this was brought to my attention. A dear friend called out to me, “What the fuck is wrong with your boobs?” and that’s when I noticed my right breast protruded out of my Victoria’s Secret Pink tank top quite a bit more than my left breast.
“Huh,” I thought, “puberty is so weird. It’ll even out.”
But, even out they did not, and after two years of my A-cup left breast failing to catch up to my D-cup right breast, I finally went and saw my mother’s gynecologist about the issue. At this point, I assumed I was dying of an enormous tumor or some rare form of breast cancer. As I sat in a paper gown with my legs in stirrups and the cold (literally and metaphorically) gynecologist giving me a breast exam, I mentally prepared to break the news to my parents, my sister, the boy from camp I thought was cute, but never liked me back. I got lost in this odd daydream until the gynecologist said (a little too chipperly, in my opinion), “You’re all set!”
“What do you mean I’m all set?” I spat out.
“You’re totally healthy,” she replied, once again, a little too chipperly.
“BUT WHAT ABOUT MY BREASTS!” I answered (probably a little too aggressively, if I’m being honest).
“When did you first go on the pill?” she asked, oblivious to my impending mental breakdown.
I explained that I had gone on the pill at 15 to alleviate some teenage acne. In retrospect, this acne probably could have been cured by a routine course of Proactiv, but I thought I would start having sex soon, and it was better to be safe than sorry (in a twist of fate that everyone saw coming but me, I did not have sex for another four years after I took my first birth control pill).
‘That’s probably it,” she smiled, closed her clipboard, and walked out of my pivotal moment.
I have since learned that hormonal changes of any kind can result in an uneven breast tissue development, and I have no idea if the pill actually caused my asymmetry, but I still will never go back on the pill for as long as I live.
To ask if I was insecure about my breasts is like asking if the Pope is Catholic. I was a teenager who already felt uncomfortable with pretty much every aspect of her physical being, so to be abnormal in a place I felt was most important to prospective male suitors seemed life-ending.
To ask if I was insecure about my breasts is like asking if the Pope is Catholic.
I begged my mother to let me get plastic surgery, claiming that I was suffering from a medical disorder, that my back ached, that bras would never fit me. In reality, I felt that my uneven breasts made me unfeminine and undesirable. I thought that no one would ever be able to look at my naked body and tell me I was beautiful, except in a patronizing “everyone is beautiful” way.
I researched breast augmentation for weeks. The typical procedure would be to get implants in both breasts, a larger implant in my left breast to make them even, and a smaller implant in my right breast so it wouldn’t droop over time while the other one remained perky.
I presented my research to my mother who said that I should wait until I was done developing, in case they evened out naturally.
“I’m 18 years old,” I thought, “I’m done developing.”
So time passed, I went off to my freshman year of college where I began having sex on a somewhat regular basis. I would never take my bra off during these trysts, afraid that my breasts would disgust my male suitors. I would seize up with panic when their hands would travel to my chest, afraid they would find out what I considered a dirty secret
By my sophomore year of college, I was a pro at making it seem normal that I kept my bra on during sex. However, I had just met a new boy and he seemed older and more mature and really into me, all of which baffled my teenage brain.
The first time we had sex, he went to take off my bra. I looked in his eyes and told him to not to. He looked confused.
“My breasts are two different sizes,” I confessed, expecting him to pull away in horror.
Instead, he looked down at his own beer gut, courtesy of four years of beer pong and keg parties. “My body’s not perfect either,” he replied in the most simple and perfect way.
I can honestly say that was the first time I had ever enjoyed sex in my entire life.
By that summer, my mother realized my breasts were never going to even out and offered to take me for a consultation with a plastic surgeon, but by that point I didn’t need it. I felt that my body was sexy and beautiful and strong (not physically… I never exercise, but emotionally).
I also thought about why my breasts made me insecure in the first place, and it wasn’t because I couldn’t accept them, it was because I was afraid other people couldn’t. I thought about all the girls at my high school who came back from summer junior year with new noses, jaws, and hairlines and remembered how harshly I judged them for giving into the societal pressure to look a certain way instead of just accepting who they were. I realized getting breast augmentation would make me no different, that I would be saying I could not be beautiful unless I fit some unreal standard of perfection.
Instead, I asked if my mom she could take my bra shopping. The sales clerk explained that I needed to wear a full-cup bra that covers the entire breast instead of a demi-cup that covers half the breast. She gave me bras that fit my larger breast but didn’t have padding in the smaller breast. When I put them on, you couldn’t even tell a difference.
As flippant as it may sound, my breasts often feel like a badge of courage, a physical reminder that I love my body for what it is and have the strength to feel good in my own skin. I was able to overcome something that made me feel hideous and become what many of my friends, co-workers, and lovers, past and present, would describe as “overly confident”.
But, most of all, finding myself beautiful in spite of what I am told are physical flaws has made me able to see the diverse physical beauty in others. I grew up believing beauty had only one definition, and I am learning more and more everyday how naive that is. There is nothing more beautiful and sexy than someone owning who they are, naturally.