My best friend Amanda has fabulous boobs.
She’s also amazingly beautiful, no?
Stay with me here; I’m going somewhere even more awesome (though it’s rather hard to believe, after that, eh?)
Amanda and I are roughly the same size – a fabulous quality in a best friend for clothes shopping and swapping purposes, for empathy, and for people thinking we’re sisters. But I’ve oft bemoaned the fact that her boobs are marvelous, while mine… fell short of the marvelous mark.
Amanda wears fantastic bras. They’re colorful and sexy, and more than once I’ve trailed off in the middle of a sentence to compliment one. A few years ago, I realized I, too, could wear fantastic bras – but I was hesitant. Really really hesitant. I started taking baby steps; I got my usual bra in a color other than white. Woo. Then I got a style that was slightly – very slightly – lower cut. Then I got one with thinner straps (handy for a chronic tank-top wearer like myself).
Emboldened, I upped the ante and got one with underwire.
Holy wowzers. Cleavege. I liked it. But I also found that I was way more self-aware, because now people were noticing my boobs. Yipes! Attention! Scary!
I found that, eventually, I got accustomed to the looks – but I never liked it. I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin, and it highlighted my uncomfort when others would appreciate my body. Then, in the aftermath of my hysterectomy, I hated my body for months. It manifested in hating my clothes, but the real underlying issue was body-hate.
It’s a hard, painful thing, hating your body. It’s the vessel we inhabit, it’s a beautiful miraculous magick-filled machine – and so often, we turn our insecurities and fears toward it. So many of us – especially women, but men aren’t immune – hold our bodies to a ridiculous, unrealistic, unattainable standard. And it’s hurtful to far more than our emotional state; self-hate cripples our ability to function. We wind up wandering around, lost in our own skin, doing various things that hurt us even more just to dull the pain.
It’s a chronic problem with our society, and it breaks my heart.
One of the easiest solutions is awareness.
Once I became aware of what was really going on with me, once I stopped hiding from the pain and started living in it, I found that it was unbearable. Like a toxic marriage, once you realize you’re living full of fear and unhappiness, it’s not long before you have to get out.
Unfortunately, some people choose to literally get out – and they end their lives. And that breaks my heart even more.
But I chose to get out by getting through.
It’s not easy. It’s not a trivial choice. It’s a spiraling path of work and growth and reminding yourself daily that you’re beautiful, you’re worthy, you’re fantastic, you’re perfect just how you are. It’s looking yourself in the mirror and weeping when you realize that you can’t meet your own gaze because you’d never say such horrible things to someone’s face – including your own. And then it’s looking yourself in the mirror and weeping when you realize that it’s going to be okay, that you are worthy of love and respect, and that – maybe, just maybe, you can love yourself as you are.
Repeat, repeat, repeat.
I’ve shed a lot of tears over the past year. More than I thought possible. I embody an ocean of tears, and it leaks out in drips and drops. But every drop brings me closer to acceptance.
Months passed, and I realized that I no longer hated all my clothes. I got rid of the stuff I still hated and bought some new stuff that made me feel good. I started looking myself in the eye in the mirror again, and reminding myself that I love me. My self-esteem creeped back up, a smidge at a time. Unnoticeable, like the way my hair grows – suddenly, I have long hair even though the growth is slow and happening all the time; suddenly, I have self-love, even though the growth is slow and going on in the background all the time.
And then I decided to try a new bra. It felt like time to take another tiny baby step toward boob-fantastico, so I went shopping. The sales girl was overwhelmingly helpful – I finally had to say, “This is hard for me. Please give me some space.” And she did. I found a couple of bras that I liked the look and feel of, and tried them on.
Holy boob-fantastico, Batgirl.
I put my shirt on over the new bra and just stared at my reflection. I felt beautiful. I felt stunning. I felt powerful. I felt magickal.
I sat on the bench in the dressing room and had myself a good cry.
And I bought two fantastic bras.
Really, though, it’s not about the bras. It’s about how I feel about my body. Having clothes that support me (pardon the pun), that make me feel sexy and gorgeous, that encourage positive self-talk – that all certainly helps. My self-esteem increases if I look good; I feel better, too. I feel more confident. I’m happier. Ya know? I’m more likely to feel gorgeous if I feel like I look gorgeous.
And it’s an upward spiral: if I feel like I look gorgeous, I feel gorgeous – and then I act gorgeous, and then others see me as gorgeous, which reinforces my own self-perception of me actually being gorgeous.
Because I am gorgeous.
And you know what?
You are gorgeous, too.