When I was in the seventh grade, I asked my mom to get me a bra. I didn’t need a bra, by any measure, but everyone else in the gym locker room had one, and I was feeling like the oddball out with my washboard chest and lack of bra straps.
At that point, I figured the boob fairy just hadn’t made her way to my doorstep yet. I didn’t know I’d be waiting for years, and that when she finally came, she’d arrive with an empty bag, turn it inside out, and offer what tiny specks of breast dust were left in its lining.
I’m the woman the “barely-A” cup was invented for. Queen of the Flat Girls Club. President of the Itty-Bitty-Titty Committee. You know how supermodels are all long and lanky and flat-chested? I have that chest without the long lankiness. Imagine Marilyn Monroe’s body with a supermodel’s bust. That’s me.
As much as I’ve always tried to be body positive, my breasts (or lack thereof) bothered me most of my life. I spent my younger years feeling “unwomanly,” with my nonexistent cleavage and inability to fill out a swimsuit. I wore padded push-up bras so that I would at least look like I had something up there. I’d dream about what it would be like to have even just a B-cup to even out my pear-shaped figure.
I look back at that young woman now and just shake my head. She had no idea how mighty her tiny boobs could be.
When I got pregnant with my first child, I loved the way my body started to change. As my belly grew rounder, my breasts did too. They filled out in a way I’d never experienced. And after my daughter was born, holy cow, I went from a solid B, to a C, to “Is that a D?!” within days. Of course, that was temporary engorgement, and once everything evened out, I settled in at a solid B+. And for the first time in my life, my breasts made me feel womanly.
But that wasn’t what really shifted my perspective. I always knew I wanted to breastfeed, but I had no idea the effect it would have on how I saw my body. I watched my daughter breastfeed and marveled at how everything she needed was being manufactured by my breasts. I watched her body grow roll after roll of baby fat and admired her chunka-lunka legs and arms and cheeks built solely out of my milk.
My breasts were literally building a human being. My teeny, flat, inconsequential boobs were performing a freaking miracle every day. I was awed. I was amazed. And I found myself falling in love with my previously shunned boobs.
That love only grew as my babies did — and someone else’s baby too. When my second daughter was nursing, my husband’s brother and his wife adopted a newborn baby boy. They wanted him to have breast milk, which I had plenty of, and I was able to pump for him and feed my own baby. Roly-poly chubbins, the both of them. My breasts made amazing, creamy, fatty milk that built two human beings at once. And four years later, they fed my third and final baby as well. Breastfeeding was like my superpower. My A-cups showed up with their A-game, proving to me and to the rest of the world they were a vital force to be reckoned with.
Years have passed since I stopped breastfeeding, and I still hold my breasts in high regard. I’d like to say that I would have grown to love them anyway, even without breastfeeding, and maybe I would have. After all, I have learned to appreciate the benefits of teeny boobs. They’re still “perky,” even after three kids. They’ll never sag because there’s not enough there to sag. I don’t need underwire for support. I can lie on my stomach. It’s never uncomfortable for me to run or jump, even without a sports bra.
But I don’t think all of that would be nearly as easy for me to see if I hadn’t seen what my breasts could do.
I guess the breast fairy knew what she was doing after all.