Jailbait

The summer before college, I finally did it. I got a breast reduction. I had been thinking about it for years. Where other people were maybe dreaming about a new car, or the sorority they wanted to join in the fall, I had been scouring the Internet looking at pictures of other people’s boobs. Not that that was particularly unusual, but I was on a mission.

I started wearing a bra in third grade. By the time I was in sixth grade, I was a C. I first began to notice how different this was when I accompanied my mother to a work party when I was twelve. Dressed in an appropriately young dress, I later inquisitively asked my mom why one of her coworkers had called me jailbait, and what that even meant. For the equally unwise, urban dictionary has a lovely explanation.

Urban Dictionary Definition

After that, there was no unlearning that word. It followed me everywhere I went. At 13, an older waiter at a restaurant (probably around 60 or 65), once made suggestive comments to me all night, enough so that I left the restaurant early, only to watch from the car as he came outside to look for me. At 15, science class became a daily test for how many boys would throw something down my shirt. At 16, uniform violations were a given, when the assigned shirts suddenly became sexualized on my oversized chest. At 17, I stopped being surprised when I got groped in a crowded hallway and started wondering if I was supposed to enjoy the attention.

Me, aged 13, with a 13 year old friend for comparison

Hannah is a pretty common name, and so my moniker, my differential quality, became my body. I was the girl with the big boobs, and that was always the first thing anyone mentioned about me. It didn’t matter that how smart I was, or any other skill I had, what mattered was the rack I lugged around.

High school, age 17

Everyone reaches a breaking point. Mine was the physical pain that started to accompany the mental pain. As if living in a city where it was perpetually bikini weather and hating your body wasn’t enough, my spine had begun to warp. Bad posture from the perpetual slouching I did to make myself seem smaller and the unnatural weight on my chest combined to create a dynamic duo of agony. Physical therapy and weekly bone massages weren’t enough.

When you petition to have a breast reduction, several things have to happen. First, you must prove a demonstrated and documented medical need, as if my own wishes and feelings weren’t enough. Secondly, you must attempt to lose at least 5 to 10 pounds, to prove that other means will not solve the problem. And finally, you also have to take pictures of yourself. From every angle. That perhaps, was the worst thing I have ever done. By the date of my surgery, I was a 32 I, which for non-bra wearers out there, goes past a triple D, E, F, G, and H. Pretty much my entire torso was boob. And to then provide pictures of my hated naked self? Yeah that might have been the worst thing.

When I told my friends that I was going through with the surgery, the reactions were mixed. One male friend had the audacity to tell me that my breasts were God’s gift and any girl would kill to be me. How could I get rid of that? My doctor made sure to stress the fact that I may never be able to breastfeed my children, and was I really sure? And so 19 year old me had to sit there and weigh the idea of being a horrible mother to her hypothetical children against a reality she could no longer endure.

A comparison photo: two weeks before and two weeks post surgery (in the same dress)

Today marks almost three years since my surgery, on July 3rd, 2014. I can say without a doubt, that it was probably the best thing that has ever happened to me, but perhaps also the most eye opening. Today, no one would know what I used to look like. Post surgery, I got carded for the first time, and I realized that before, people had never really looked me in the eye. Shopping became so much easier as I suddenly had the body that fashion industries designed for. And I finally had the opportunity to feel comfortable in my own skin. I am incredibly lucky that my mother stood by me throughout the whole process, through every doctor’s visit and condescending remark. And I am incredibly privileged that I even had this choice. But what I am, most of all, is nobody’s plaything.