Unhooking my self-esteem from my bra size

I remember the first time the word “bra” was mentioned to me. I was in the fourth grade, and one of my best friends was bragging about her new pink training bra. I was puzzled. Weren’t bras something only older girls talked about? I still used a night light when I slept, why would I need a bra? Of course I didn’t need a bra, but the thought terrified me to the point of tears. Unlike my peers, I had no intention of ever growing up. I thought boys were made for chasing and beating up, not holding hands with. And the moment bras and boys became cool, I stood with my dirty knees and wind-blown hair wondering where I had gone wrong.

So then I waited. I waited for them to come back to the playground to make mud pies with me, I waited for bras to become something of the past and catching bugs to become something of the future. I waited, I waited, and I waited until I realized they weren’t coming. I bought my first bra when I was eleven-years-old. It was white, much like the surrender flag I waved above my head to signal my defeat. I didn’t need it but in order to be considered someone in the backward system of middle school, I had to have one. I hated it. I hated the way I felt almost trapped inside of it and I could barely wait to get out of it when I got home.

However, around twelve or thirteen, things did start to change. I slowly started to care about what jeans I was wearing, what my hair looked like, where I went after school. My long battle fought against adolescence suddenly turned into something I welcomed with open arms. My only problem: I still didn’t have boobs. Everyone around me were wearing cup bras, and the more daring ones even had push-up bras. And here I was, flat as I was the day I was born. I began to tell myself I was just a late bloomer, that one day I would in fact wake up and have boobs. Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months and months turned into years without having much of anything on my chest.

Right now, I’m fifteen-years-old, 5’8, 120 pounds, and a mere 34A. I don’t wear bandeaus; I wear bras simply for the sake of making me look like I have more than I do, and I rarely wear sports bras to avoid being mistaken for a 12-year-old boy. Here I am — extremely self-conscious for not having something I didn’t even want to have in the first place. Being a girl in high school without boobs is like trying to run a marathon without running shoes; you can do it, but the running shoes help a whole lot. For the most part, I’ve accepted my body. I’ve realized that having no boobs actually provides something of a filter that scares away the boys who just want me for my body. I tell myself that the boy that you will eventually love won’t care about the size of your chest, but when some dumb high school boy calls you “pancakes” and thinks it’s funny, it does tend to knock you down a few pegs.

There was a moment that will be etched in the back of my brain until I die. I was changing for track with a few other girls I run with and pulled a tighter form-fitting t-shirt on, and one of the girls immediately pointed to my chest and started to laugh. “Look at how small her boobs are!” The way she said it, like she was crooning at the cuteness of a baby animal, really got to me. I tend to be an overly-confident person especially when it comes to being myself and accepting the body I have, so that’s why everyone went dead silent when I broke down in the middle of the locker room sobbing. For a straight month after that day, I wore only cup bras to run in because I was that worried what others would think.

I saw a quote the other day. “Live to be happy, not to impress.” Words like that make me realize how not one drop of my self worth is defined by what others have to say. The size of my bust is not who I am. I’m so much more than that, and I’ve finally come to terms with that. I’m 1,000 times more confident than I was even though my breasts haven’t grown a single centimeter. Of course there will be days when I do feel low, but to make myself feel better I look at how small models’ boobs are and how amazingly they seem to work them. I am, after all, a teenage girl and will probably always feel a tad bit conscious about my looks.

I suppose I’m incredibly lucky if my biggest concern includes whether my boobs are going to look too flat in this or that, but it’s hard to not be insecure about my bra size when big boobs are so incredibly sexualized by the media to the point that it seems that that’s the only thing guys could ever want. I’m gradually learning to be even more self-confident and though I’m not there yet, one day I’ll wear a sports bra without even giving it a second thought. One day, when my friends think it’s funny to compare everyone’s boobs to fruit and they call mine mini crab apples, it won’t even phase me. One day when I wear a bikini I won’t constantly look down at my chest to check if they’ve grown. One thing my grandfather used to tell me was work with the stuff you’re given, and even if I don’t have big juicy red deliciouses, I do love my mini crab apples. I always will.

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