Friday 17 January 2020

Womanity: Is the grass greener in a bigger cup size

Having small breasts made me long for curves as a teen, but is the grass really greener in a bigger cup size?

Carol Tobin. Photo: Tony Gavin.
Carol Tobin. Photo: Tony Gavin.

Carol Tobin

I am eternally grateful that the internet wasn't around during my awkward adolescence. My world was so much smaller then, with fewer people to compare myself to; just the girls in my home town and the females in Home and Away, Neighbours and Glenroe.

If my teenage self was around today, I don't know how she would have coped, a shapeless insecure girl in a world obsessed with womanly curves. We're obviously obsessed with thinness too, but maybe I just notice all the curvy girls like Kate Upton, the cast of Mad Men, Beyonce, Lara Stone, Jennifer Lawrence because I do not possess a shapely physique like them.

Summer always reminds me of my dismal teenage years. The main reason they were so gloomy was because when God was handing out boobs he totally forgot about me. He must have gone "Ah that girl will be fine with what I've given her, it might take a while but she'll be grand eventually." Or else he just blatantly ignored my nightly pleas and prayers and dished them out to every other girl in school instead. Maybe I deserved it. I had pretty much broken all the commandments by that stage in my life. But those years were distressing and I obsessed over my lack of breasts in an unhealthy manner. I was a thin teen, but with my desire for curves, I would have gladly swapped bodies with the girls who craved my scrawny frame.

The summer months were when I really needed boobs as a teenager. I couldn't hide my awkward self in woolly jumpers or layer loads of shirts with pockets over my body to bulk up my puny self. Breasts were membership to the womanhood club, and at that stage in your life, with so many hormones floating amongst the stale cigarette smoke of fresh smokers, breasts were what attracted the boys. You would never hear a boy saying "Wow look at the bones on her, what I'd give to run my fingers through her ribs." And telling jokes could never compete with an ample bosom. In fact, I think that my sense of humour developed when my curves didn't. I definitely used witticisms to detract from emotional pain; humour was my shield. Thankfully most of these boys grew up and looked for other qualities in women. Others remain fixated all their lives.

It was always particularly agonising when I returned to school after the summer holidays. You really noticed a change in the bodies of others girls especially the ones you hadn't seen for the whole three months. I may have gotten taller and possibly thinner, but my chest remained the same. I know this because I measured it regularly. I am living proof that a watched pot never boils.

I remember being taken for my first bra fitting, a truly pointless affair but a significant moment between a mother and daughter. The store was a musty old fashioned place with lots of male assistants. I was brought into the dressing room by a matronly lady with cold hands and long nails whose face I studied intently to see if it would crack into laughter. It didn't, and she gave me a little hope that day and sent me off with a bra I really didn't need.

The most humiliating memory I have from this time was a trip to the dentist. The chair was fully reclined and I was lying fairly straight when suddenly my dentist arranged some of her tools on my chest and used me as a table. I was tempted to bite down on her hand as it went in and out of my mouth, but I soon realised that I would have only made my pain worse and she could have ended up drilling my tongue. The humiliation I felt that day was a welcoming distraction from the pain of the dental work, but I never felt so unfeminine in my life. Adults can be so cruel.

When I finally gave the two fingers to my teenage years, I made peace with what God hadn't given me and found more interesting things to be insecure about. You dwell less on your body and more on your mind as you exit adolescence. I must have subconsciously searched out fellow flatties because I have a smaller chested group of friends and we call ourselves The Flat Pack. You wouldn't know that to look at us because we know the importance of flattering clothes that give the illusion of curves, the most vital item being a padded bra. Thank God for Penneys.

Irish Independent

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