On Having Boobs
Are they a blessing or a curse?
Growing up, I wasn’t a “girly-girl” or a “tomboy.” I was just as happy wearing beautiful dresses as I was playing in mud puddles. One of my favorite costume pieces was a set of kid-sized Barbie® revolvers that came with a hat and spurs. (It was a different time, don’t judge.)
By the fifth grade, I had started to get boobs. And by “started” I mean that I was already wearing an underwire. No one made fun of me for having them, at least, no more than they made fun of me for being chubby in the first place. I played tee-ball and took art classes. It seemed like I was allowed to do whatever I had an affinity for.
The middle of three girls, I was raised to believe that I could do whatever I wanted and be whoever I wanted to be. It never struck me that the world wasn’t completely equal…until marriage.
I married a man from a devoutly Mormon family. I laughed it off when I was told to “obey.” Why shouldn’t I laugh? I had never blindly obeyed anyone and I wasn’t about to start with a twenty-something-year-old guy with no life experience. In my head, I knew that it would be much wiser if he would learn to obey me.
Through our nine-year marriage and two kids, I never settled for being less than a full partner. And, as it turns out, he was more than happy to let me handle everything. I ran the household, raised the kids, built my first businesses, and completely neglected my health, entirely on my own.
Then, as I was turning 30, the facade of what I had viewed as a well-oiled machine started to break down. I won’t share the details of what led to our divorce, but it had a lot to do with the naive lense that I had been looking through up to that point. I had been raised in such a sugary bubble that my common sense had all but rotted away.
Once back out in the real world, it was as if I had left Oz. The bright colors and large lollipops were gone and I was suddenly a single mother with custody of two little boys in a world that doubted every move that a woman made.
Suddenly, even the men at the hardware store were talking down to me. The clerk wasn’t calling me “Honey” out of endearment, he was using it as a diminutive device. I started to feel like having boobs was supposed to make me less of a person. When did that start?? Turns out, it had always been that way.
I’m going to take a little detour here to explain something that is embarrassing and related. My senior year of high school, my date and I were headed to prom (yes, it was the man that would later become my ex-husband, but that doesn’t matter here.) We stopped at a convenience store on our way so that he could pick up some ChapStick® (and now that I’m much older and wiser, relating this part of the story makes me wonder if he was actually going in for ChapStick® or if he just told me he was going in for ChapStick®) anyway, as he left the car, and disappeared inside the store, I locked the doors (as I always did, and still do.) At that exact moment, a tall, beautiful black man was coming out. He saw me lock the doors and absolutely lost his shit.
“I’m not going to hurt you! You think because I’m black, I’m automatically a thug? Huh? Huh?” he yelled at the top of his lungs, pounding on my window.
I just sat there in shock as he turned away in exasperation and got into his car. I wasn’t locking the door to protect myself against black people, I was locking it to protect myself against men in general. For crying out loud, it was 1996. Racism wasn’t a thing anymore, right?
Okay, let’s head back to the main story now that the full depths of my ignorance have been exposed.
As you have probably guessed by now, the world had been behaving badly all along, I had only just opened my eyes enough to notice it. I flashed back to that night at the convenience store and realized that my perception of the world had very little to do with what was happening, and more to do with how my experiences had trained me to view each interaction. Racism was still a thing, and so was sexism. Motherfucker.
Flash forward to today. I’ve spent the better part of the last decade working for equality in business and education. While doing so, I was absolutely shocked and ashamed in 2016 to find another veil lifted, exposing even worse bottom-dwelling bigots than I could have imagined, even given the discoveries I had made up to that point in my life.
So, here’s what I’m left with. I have boobs. Apparently, that makes me inferior in the eyes of many. Whether we all realize it or not, we’ve been conditioned to take a man’s word as absolute gospel and a woman’s word as an opinion.
It turns out that I’ve unknowingly traded a lot for the ability to nicely fill out a sweater, and while I wouldn’t trade my breastage for anything, I feel like it’s still possible that I will be seen as a functional person within my lifetime. So much has changed in this last 10 years. We still have a long way to go, but I truly believe that we’re at a tipping point. Keep fighting, ladies. The bra is in our court.