How I learned to put away the padding and love my small boobs

Small-boobed ladies, you’ll know what I’m talking about. With modern beauty standards, it can seem like small boobs are a curse to be corrected. Even celebrities like Keira Knightley aren’t immune to the criticism that comes with being a small-chested woman. For the less endowed among us, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of constant primping and pushing, trying to make what little we have look like just a little bit more.

There’s no worse time to have small boobs than in middle school. It’s a time when everyone around you is shooting up and out and getting the curves that you see on TV and have been promised come with being a woman. But if you’re like I was, you find yourself left behind wearing a camisole with a built in “bra” and six inches between you and the next shortest girl in your class.

So you wait. And oh boy, did I wait. You know that you can’t go on looking 11 years old forever, but why is nothing happening? By the time I was in high school, I was wearing new clothes, but everything under them was still exactly the same.

For me, high school brought a whole new set of things to worry about. Aside from the pressures of a new school with a more intense workload, I felt like I couldn’t keep up socially either. Would any boy be interested in me, and if they were, would they be disappointed with what I had to offer? I was still flat-chested, and I was still shorter than the other girls. It felt like my life was all about looking in the mirror, trying to stretch myself taller and will my boobs to grow bigger. I just wanted to look like everyone else.

At some point during this growth crisis, I discovered push-up bras. By the last year of high school, I had also reached a somewhat acceptable height (people no longer stopped me in the halls to ask, “do you go to this school?”) and I could deceive a people into thinking that I had developed a respectable b-cup.

I maintained this boob façade well into college, continuing to buy bras with the most “push” because that’s just what bras were to me. They were for enhancement, not support. That is, until a month ago.

I was at the mall with some friends, and found the prettiest bra I had ever seen. I don’t care how that sounds — I mean it! It was love at first sight, lingerie style. It was light purple and pure lace. It was perfect except for one problem: there was absolutely no padding. Nada. Zip.

But I bought it anyway. I loved it too much to worry about how it would or wouldn’t make me look. I put it on, and it made me feel great.

And that was when I realized that the only person in my life who actually cared about my boobs was me. The only person who looked at me and thought that I looked childish or unattractive was myself, when I failed to meet the expectations that only I had set. Now, I look back on when I wondered if boys would like me better with bigger boobs, and I can’t believe that was how I measured my worth. By actually embracing my body, I now feel sexy with what I have, and not like I’m trying to make up for what I don’t.

So if you’re stuck in that spiral of feeling inadequate, whether you think your boobs are too small or too big, whether you wear push-up bras or no bras at all, it’s important to remember that there’s nobody measuring you or setting any kind of expectation — and if they are, they’re not worth listening to. Just ask yourself: Am I comfortable? Am I true to myself? Yup? Then you’re good.

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