By Lisa Barr
Every year on my birthday, from the time I turned 13, I would add on top of my one wish this: Please God, while you’re at it — Give Me Boobs. Every year to no avail, my wish — that one — was categorically denied. Never came true. I am a solid A-cup. With Victoria’s Secret help — my A gets lifted to an A-plus. (Love ya, Vicky).
I always felt like I had a teenager’s body — and not a woman’s. And all I wanted was full-breasts — that unattainable C-cup. And there were options. I thought I would be The One to get a Boob Job once I was old enough. But when adulthood was on my side, I just couldn’t do it. And when I gave birth to my daughters — for me, it was becoming less of an option. Even after I nursed one daughter for 15 months, the other for a year. And every woman knows the “deflated sacks” that you are left with, post-breastfeeding.
In my head, my small breasts were the one body part I would change if I could. But that stubborn thing inside me, said NO, don’t do it.
Once my daughters came into the world — all the neon messages that I had fought my whole life like, You are not enough ... began to slowly shift. I was now a Mommy, and that was huge. In my mind, if I changed that part of me — my breasts — I would somehow be giving in to that hateful message. I wanted my daughters to perceive me as satisfied with myself — my whole self.
If I changed that part of me, I thought, what message was I was then passing on to my girls?
Many women have had breast augmentation and reduction — and the results are beautiful, and most women feel great. Many women who have had mastectomies have had reconstruction and I believe it is truly miraculous, and rebuilds what was taken from them.
What I’m discussing here is purely my personal take on this particular “elective” surgery. It really took until my early 40s that I came to total peace with my body for reasons that I’ll get to in a minute. I bring this all up because a few days ago The Huffington Post ran an article about a book called “The Advantages of Being Small-Breasted” — a book that went viral. Before I finished reading the article — I shouted out to my husband — OHMYGOD, I am SO buying this book and getting one for X, Y and Z (names of several others in the A-Cup Club). And then I kept reading …
The book, written by “Dr. Hugh C. Nothing and Ann A. Kupp” was a joke on US. When opened, the book revealed completely blank pages. The authors’ intent was to show that there were NO advantages to being small-breasted. It felt crushing. Not only to me but also to an army of small-breasted women who responded that it made them sad, that it reminded them of all the internal messages that had plagued them through the years. Then there were those who defended small breasts — I get to wear no-bra, makes yoga easy, yatta yatta. It was the Huff Post, so the comments went on and on.
Every woman has something that they wish they could fix or change about their bodies. You know how it goes … those of us with curly hair, flat iron and keratin; those with stick straight hair fantasize about curls. We have been taught, ingrained, NOT to be satisfied with what we’ve got.
A few breast “game-changers” for me occurred. First, I realized most importantly, how blessed I am that my breasts are healthy, and cancer-free. Secondly, several years ago, I read an article in British GQ (I was traveling in Europe) — it was a personal essay about a man discussing how his dancer girlfriend had such a beautiful, lithe body, and when she decided to get breast implants, how much he secretly missed her small, sensitive breasts. He discussed the “why” in vivid detail. I read the article a dozen times, cut it out, and I let his “Ode to Small Breasts” sink in. But the clincher for me was my husband. When we started dating a decade ago, I asked him when we got serious if I was “enough” for him. I’m barely 5’2″ and he is six feet. He looked at me and said, “I love everything about you just the way you are — don’t ever change anything. I would hate it if you did.”
I love everything about you just the way you are.
Yes, it was my Bridget Jones moment. But sometimes as women, no matter how accomplished we are professionally etc, those insecurities — trite as they may be — tend to trump all. And when I looked into my husband’s eyes, I believed him. And I knew right then, that it was high time for ME not only to believe it, but also to embrace it, own it.
It took a while, but I got there.
So many women I know fight their hair, their tush, their thighs, their nose, their post-pregnancy tummies, their wrinkles, their weight. Ask any woman, and she will tell you exactly what is wrong with her. We all seem to be in a constant internal struggle. So how do we stop this? How do we get to a point where we can ask any woman about her body, and the answer instead would be what is RIGHT about her.
Is this shift possible? One of my daughters is totally at ease with her body — never focuses on imperfections. I marvel when I look at her, and see her radiating confidence.
With all my insecurities growing up — how did I help create this person? This is simply fantastic. I think to myself: ‘I’ll have what she’s having.’
Okay — so let’s get there together. Here are my Top Five Tips. And Ladies — I’m expecting Comments here. Go Anonymous, who cares — this is the one blog that Women NEED to hear from other women … so Bring It On:
1. Look in the mirror in the morning and find that ONE thing you love about yourself. (FYI: that is hands-down my favorite section in Marie-Claire, when they ask women on the street what they love about themselves…). For me: I always say My Smile. What do you say?
2. Wear one item that does NOT have black in it. I see one woman in Starbucks every morning, who is clearly on her way to her yoga class. Her pants are black, but every day her top is some variation of bright and bold – a happy top. Find your “happy top.”
3. The one body part that you hate about yourself — find one thing positive about it, and say it aloud.
4. If you have daughters (and sons can use a good compliment too, by the way), don’t let them leave for school without telling them something nice about themselves. A compliment from a Mom (and especially a Dad) goes a long way with a daughter … “Wow, love your style … Your hair looks pretty like that … Cool Boots.” I know it sounds superficial but noticing tiny things about your daughter IN your house — sets her on her way, gives her that stamp of confidence to step into her much more critical School World.
5. If you are meeting up with a girlfriend — always find that one thing to comment on — and give it to her: “Love that shirt on you … You exude such a glow … Your skin looks amazing.” There’s nothing like that Girl-2-Girl compliment. Not only does it make her day, but also her whole week.
All of us women are in the same boat — we tend to zero in on our perceived “fault” — and I truly believe we can help each other out in this department. My sister and I are both small-breasted — and we laugh a lot about it. Our jokes remind each other about what’s REALLY important.
Look around you, at the women who decorate your life every day — and you will see that positive reinforcement will go a long way, long after you leave the room. Long after you’ve gone about your day — you will have impacted hers, and in the process by handing out compliments (the ultimate reassurance), it will, by osmosis, come back to you.