Sunday, June 7, 2015

Going Through Life Chest First

Look at the pictures of Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell (above) and what do you notice first? Doesn't take long, does it? Their perky breasts! Marilyn and Jane both made a career out of going chest first through life and it paid off. Not to minimize their acting abilities, but their breasts were part of what made them a household name. Would billionaire Howard Hughes have invented a space age bra for a flat chested Jane Russell? Probably not.
Well around our house, we've been talking about breasts a lot. In fact, Seth has added a new word to his vocabulary: Boobs. Before last week, he was only allowed to refer to that area of a woman's anatomy as her breasts or chest. Sadly, I am the reason behind this new addition to his vocabulary. You see mommy had a boob job a little over a week ago and used the "B" word when talking about it.
Now before you start judging me for getting my girls all tanked up to double D's on a whim, let me reassure you, it was not exactly a cosmetic surgery. Eleven years ago, I lost my left breast (who I endearingly refer to as Mopsy) to cancer. My right breast (Flopsy) is holding up remarkably well and doesn't in any way deserve her name, but it rhymes. "Mopsy and Perky" just doesn't roll of the tongue as easily.

As for surgery, Mopsy had to have new stuffing. She was looking a little flat and with my fifty pound weight gain since my hysterectomy four years ago, Flopsy was 'flourishing" and noticeably out growing her sister, Mopsy. It's been ten days since the surgery and I am doing great. Another chapter in my breast's long history almost finished.
I must confess I have always been a bit obsessed with my “girls.” Even before I had cancer. Reflecting upon it, I think it started in fourth grade. I don’t remember thinking about my breasts before that. It probably  started with Marquita.  Marquita was a girl who moved to our school in the middle of fourth grade and she and I became good friends.  
Marquita was one those of the girls who started developing early. By fourth grade, she was three inches taller than any boy in our class and was wearing a B cup bra. That may sound small to most adults but when you are nine years old, a B cup is a big deal. BIG DEAL. Though poor Marquita was one of my closest friends, I must confess that once when a group of popular, flat chested girls called her “Marquita Malted Milk Balls” behind her back, I snickered just as loudly as the others.
Marquita was more mature than us in a lot of ways. She knew that everyone noticed her large breasts. Boys tended to talk to her chest. Surprisingly, she never seemed to resent our attitude. It was almost as if, she felt, this was just what she deserved for being so well endowed. Looking back on it cringingly, and for my part in it, I hope she took it as good naturedly as it appeared.

Marquita moved across town at the end of fourth grade and so ended her reign as the girl with the biggest boobs in class. Truthfully, we were all pretty flat chested in fifth grade so the boob obsession of fourth grade seemed to have left with Marquita.
The summer I turned eleven, my breasts horrifyingly developed or at least I thought so. I look at pictures of my eleven year old self and don’t really see why I was so mortified by this fact. I was a solid A. My breasts were barely discernable under my shirt. Unfortunately, so began my obsession with my breasts.
My sixth grade self (second row, far right) with my softball team, the Taft Bulldogs.
Not long after they began developing, my mother noticed my “bumps,” and bought me a little sports bra at a neighborhood garage sale. I wore it night and day. In my head, if I confined them, even in sleep, it would somehow slow their growth down. I know it’s crazy and biologically unsound but let’s face it, eleven year old girls back then, though highly body conscious, were not very well informed about the facts of their bodies.
When I began sixth grade that August, I was very conscious of my breasts. I measured my breasts against every other girl's in class. All were flat as boards except for one. Brandi. I was sure my friend, Brandi was bigger. Brandi and I had known each other since first grade but had never hung out much until that summer before sixth grade when we played on the same school softball team. We also both earned slots on the sixth grade cheerleading squad and so became permanent fixtures in each other’s lives.
I liked Brandi. She was a little scary at times. She was outspoken and had no problem telling you what she thought of you. If you were acting like an idiot, she would tell you. She also had this really funny, if sometimes raunchy (think sixth grade raunchy), humor that I loved. 
Though  I spent lots of time with Brandi  and our little group of friends in and out of school, something stood between our truly being BFFs. Actually two things: our breasts. Both of us were developing ahead of our friends and each liked to point out how the other was bigger. 
Brandi’s mother was a stay at home mom who made all her clothes. Having a single mom who worked a lot, I had always thought was really nice and wished my mom sewed my clothes. Though Brandi’s mom was a whiz with a sewing machine, she must not have known the cattiness sixth grade girls were capable of. She made Brandi a smock with little grey and purple hippos all over it. Though cute, it highlighted Brandi’s burgeoning bosom. Finally, I had proof her breasts were bigger than mine and I said so. Further, I think I may have made a teasing comment about the fact she looked like a hippo in it. That memory is fuzzy but I do remember she never wore the smock again.
I’m embarrassed by my sixth grade self’s bitchiness but I think it illustrates something about sixth grade girls. My fellow teacher’s talk about the hateful attitude of some  sixth grade girls. That bitchiness has its roots in a girl’s insecurity about herself. How better to make yourself look a little less imperfect than to point out the imperfections of other girls? Often, the same girls who had once been your closest friends in third grade.
As for Brandi and I, our friendship survived the insecurities of sixth grade. Today we are Facebook friends. Through her posts I am able to keep in touch with an icon from my childhood. When I think of her, it isn’t that pretty, fifty something face in her profile picture. Most often it is her sixth grade self in that hippopotamus smock.

Anyway, my breasts history is long and dramatic. Cancer, mastectomy, breast feeding and last week’s events would fill up a couple of blog posts. However, I am kind of tired of my breasts and looking forward to them just being something that fills out my shirts. Perhaps in the future I will tell you another chapter in my breast's history. Perhaps not. Have a great week!