Copyright 2012 by Trish Causey.
For most of my life that was all I was good for. Having breasts. And thick hair. Breasts and hair. That was me in a nutshell. Nevermind that I was intelligent, talented in the performing and literary arts, a Girl Scout, an honor student, an activist, a nice person. None of that mattered. I had thick, red hair and large, lust-inducing breasts.
I woke up one morning at the age of 10, and POOF! There they were. Size C practically overnight. I went from being the wallflower nerd in 5th grade to getting weird looks from the boys who glanced at me from lowered eyelids but no longer talked to me.
At age 11, my ballet teacher measured me for my recital costume and announced (in front of my class much to my horror) that my measurements were 37-26-37. She then had the nerve to tell me if I gained an inch in my waist, I’d have perfect measurements. I’d just started my period and was about to get braces. Having perfect measurements was nowhere on my radar. And neither were boyfriends.
I was 13, working backstage at an international ballet competition, when a German photographer wanted to take “pictures” of me. At age 15, I had my first experience with being mauled by a guy — a fellow cast member of a show, who was my ride home after a rehearsal. With no other way to get home, I felt like I had to let him do what he wanted so he wouldn’t leave me there at the deserted library at 10 o’clock at night. (This was well before cell phones were commonplace). Luckily my leotard didn’t have snaps at the crotch.
While working on a local show, I was standing backstage when one of the actors, whose face was covered in heavy character make-up, paused as he was pacing before going on. He stopped in front of me, looked at my breasts, and said, “If I didn’t have all this make-up on, I’d put my face in there and- He shook his head vigorously back and forth. I had no idea what to say to that. He was married with kids. I was 16.
While volunteering with a ballet company at age 18, the ballet master of a troupe visiting from Russia, cornered me in the Green Room after everyone had left. Before I knew what was happening, he’d maneuvered both of my arms behind me and held my wrists in one of his hands while the other went to my blouse, untucking it from my skirt. He grabbed my breasts and squeezed roughly. His knee was between my legs which were trapped in a pencil skirt. The more I fought, the stronger he became. My only recourse when he kissed me was to bite his tongue as hard as I could. He backed off immediately, blood pouring from his mouth. I tucked in my shirt and told him he was never to do that again. Even in this situation, my Southern upbringing would not allow me to be rude.
At 20, I traveled with a theatre company to South Korea for an international theatre competition. I was friendly with the troupe from Tblisi, in the Republic of Georgia. Just friends. Nothing happened. It was brought to my attention on the plane ride home that almost everyone in the competition — people from 16 countries — thought I’d fucked the entire acting company from Tblisi… and some of the Germans and a French guy.
At 21, working the ballet competition again, I was more fully aware of my seeming powers over men, and I was ready to be slightly more proactive. An Adonis of a male dancer from Cuba lusted after me, but his partner didn’t make it to Round 2, so I couldn’t take that opportunity to the next step. A ballet master from Spain wanted me. One night while making out with him, he, of course, went for my breasts first. The intensity of the situation was too much, and while he wiped off his fogged up glasses, I made an excuse about needing to do something and left.
I didn’t understand what the big fuss was about. When I was 9, my molestor used to admire the beginnings of my breasts, and she was greatly thrilled when they came in at age 10. This coupled with all the other events made me leery of sex. I was still a virgin at 21 until I was raped. The guy repeatedly ran his fingernails up and down my breasts, commenting that he’d dreamt of the day he’d get his hands on them. I knew him and we were in my bedroom, and at the time, the concept of date-rape was still new and not considered “real” rape. I bled for four days, but I still felt his nails on my skin.
I was so embarrassed that I was still a virgin at 21, I did not report the rape for fear the policemen would laugh at me. Or worse. It was too much to fathom sitting in a courtroom having to explain why I had never had sex, when everyone around me thought I was a slut.
For years, everyone thought I was a “loose girl” because I had large breasts. Everyone just assumed I was a “certain way” because my Irish anatomy was genetically predisposed to being full-figured. Finally, I’d been penetrated. At least now, I wouldn’t have to pretend a reaction when people smirked in my direction. The look of shame was real.
My breasts were never pin-up fabulous — not high or perky or uber firm — but they were large. At theatre orgies, when I was 22 to 24, my breasts were all the rage. And I was proud of them — but only because I knew they gave me power over men. One guy wanted time with them, so I laid back on the bed, purring, until he said — out loud where everyone heard, “They went to the sides.” I responded, “Yes, that’s what they do.” He replied, “Nevermind. They’re just sacks of skin.” I was humiliated. He was used to breasts that didn’t move, defied gravity, and were perfect(ly fake). As large as mine were, my breasts didn’t measure up.
Aged 25 and working as a leasing consultant at an apartment property, I’d forgotten the cardinal rule of being big-busted — never wear form-fitting sweaters. Sure enough, as I sat there, one of the paint contractors walks in — I’d never seen him before. He took one look at me, and exclaimed, “Damn, but don’t you put Dolly Parton to shame!”
Lovely. From a complete stranger, no less.
I hated my breasts, and I wanted them gone. I thoroughly researched breast reduction. I watched every nerd channel show on plastic surgery, scrutinizing the process and the results. I even worked for a plastic surgeon and felt I could practically do a breast redux consult and procedure myself by that point.
Frequently, I would have to ask my husband to massage my back to help release the knots. These massages were never spa- or romance-novel-worthy. They were painful — horribly-hot, sharp, stabbing, searing pain, painful.
From the nape of my neck to my bottom ribs, from one shoulder across to the other, my back was one, huge knotted mass of contracted muscle and pinched nerves, for years. Constant back pain affected how I walked and how I slept — when I could sleep. Permanent red grooves still scar my shoulders from their weight.
External and environmental projections of cultural myths and stereotypes compelled self-loathing within me I never would have imagined possible. Having large breasts made my body acceptable for repeated sexual abuse, and society assumed I “wanted” it or “deserved” it just because of the way my body developed.
In 2004, I thought my marriage might work out after all. Things had looked up for a while, and I had surprised myself thinking that I might actually grow to love him again. I was in the kitchen, and remarked, quite off the cuff, that I’d decided to go ahead and have the breast reduction surgery. He shook his head, getting angry, and actually pouted.
After inquiring what was wrong, he said, “If you go through with it, I’ll never be able to make love to you again. I would take one look at those hideous purple scars and be too disgusted to be aroused.” That cut me to my soul. And it solidified for me that he’d never truly loved me. No man ever had or would. I was nothing but breasts and hair to men.
I’ve had a child, whom I breastfed. I purposely gained weight so my husband wouldn’t want me, which wrecked my thyroid. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the subsequent PTSD didn’t help. In 2010, I escaped my hellhole marriage and began a path of reclaiming my dreams and my identity.
Last fall, a friend suggested I try sensual massage as part of my orgasm awakening regimen. I thought it was hokey, but I tried it anyway. At the same time, I read Tantric Orgasm for Women, that included a breast meditation, which I also thought was hokey. But I tried it anyway.
The sensual self-massage put me in touch with my body in a gentle, caressing way that I’d not thought possible. I realized then that I had never been touched gently. Ever. By anyone. Tingles rippled up and down my body. Energy zinged up my spine, across my scalp, and tickled my face.
The breast meditation involved gently holding my breasts from the outside while mentally entering my breasts from the inside. From my center. From my heart. This was the first time I experienced my breasts in relationship to my body and how they come from me. Since I was 9, the attention my breasts received has been from the external world passing judgment, men (and females) groping, clawing, and lusting after them, while society applied the scarlet letter of shame.
My breasts had been the victim, not my enemy. For the first time, I experienced my breasts as a part of me, and I cried uncontrollably. Holding my breasts, I wanted to apologize for ever hating them and sending the negativity to them.
I’m now a single mom, 43 pounds lighter, and infinitely happier. I’m a few months away from turning 40.
While laying in bed one night, I noticed a woman on my laptop’s screen. I thought, “Wow, those breasts look good.” I then realized the screen was dark due to the screen saver, and the breasts I saw were mine. I looked good laying down — with my breasts to the sides as real breasts are wont to do.
It was at that moment that I knew without a doubt that I will never have breast reduction. After years of wanting them gone, I cannot imagine having them cut now. Knowing that the surgeon will cut every nerve around the nipple-areola complex which is wired directly to the clitoris and remove a huge triangle of nerve-rich skin from the underside of the breast, simply hurts my heart — not to mention what it might do to my orgasms. After making peace with my breasts and experiencing such wonderful sensations and orgasms directly because of them, I can’t fathom not having them exactly as they are.
My breasts will never grace a magazine’s centerfold, and they’d never withstand the scrutiny of men accustomed to ogling implants and the perfect breasts of 20-somethings in skin mags or porn. I’ll never look good bra-less, and swimsuits will always be my arch-nemesis. I can live with that. And however society chooses to judge my old, not-perfect breasts is society’s waste of time and energy. I have other things to do than worry about what other people think — which I can’t control anyway.
My breasts will never be perfect. But they will always be mine. And I love my breasts.