Talking Bras with Natalie Dressed
This post originally appeared on Natalie Dressed.
I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with my boobs. Growing up, I was always small chested. I think in college, I eventually got to a 32B, which was like woah I made it to a B! Progress! And that’s where I stayed until I got pregnant.
The thing is, deep down, I never truly hated having small boobs – I actually liked them. They were convenient, I could wear a lot of things without having to worry about my boobs falling out, I never had to wonder if they were the reason a guy liked me, my identity wasn’t tied up in them. The dissatisfaction came in as I got older and the societal messaging began to affect me more. A bigger cup size is what guys want. A large chest is what’s beautiful, desirable, sexy. A small chest is an embarrassment. A small chest isn’t good enough. A small chest looks boyish. That’s what the media tells us (although I think the conversation is very slowly beginning to change). I was always made of for having small boobs and even though I liked them, the opinions of others started to affect how I felt about myself.
Fast forward to my pregnancy, my boobs inevitably began to get bigger. I thought I’d finally get what I always wanted. (It’s worth noting here that I’ve never considered plastic surgery and never would. I don’t judge others who choose that route but I knew “fixing the problem” wouldn’t actually fix the root of the problem and that my dissatisfaction came from within myself and not from the way I looked). In a lot of ways, having a bigger chest was nice. I filled things out better and felt more womanly.
Once I actually gave birth and my milk came in, my boobs felt ginormous. It was honestly like I got a boob job and after the initial fascination fell away, I hated them. They’ve since calmed down and they really aren’t that big compared to many other women, but compared to what I had before, they feel huge. It’s honestly been hard for me to accept them. Many of my shirts are now too tight and I miss the look of wearing a low cut top without cleavage. I’ve always thought that look was subtle and elegant.
The ironic thing about this journey is that the thing I used to hate is now what I miss and the thing I used to want is now what I wish I didn’t have. In either case, the common denominator is lack – wanting what I don’t have. It’s been a lesson in loving myself as I currently am. That doesn’t mean I won’t ever change – it just means that no matter how I change, I’ll continue to love myself.
It’s also shown me that my physical reality doesn’t necessarily determine how I feel about myself because in both cases – with small boobs and with bigger – I’ve felt the same. If I can’t find acceptance and love for myself from within, it doesn’t matter what I look like on the outside, it will never be good enough.
Self-acceptance isn’t easy in our world. We’re constantly being told what is beautiful and what isn’t. We’re constantly being told we’re not good enough. We’re constantly being sold an image of beauty that in most instances, isn’t even real.
I say we accept ourselves anyway. I say we find the beauty that exists in this very moment.
If you can relate, here are three things I’ve been doing to work on rejecting society’s limiting view of beauty and accepting myself more:
1. Buy things I love that fit now. | This is especially important after pregnancy. When I wear things that fit and that I actually love, I feel a billion times better. Once I had Talie, I had no idea what bra size I was anymore. Instead of hauling Tal to the store and dealing with the mess of straps and hangers that always accompanies trying on bras, I took advantage of ThirdLove’s “Try Before You Buy” program. Essentially, you use the app to snap a few photos, get your bra size, and are then given a selection of bras that are a perfect match. It was so easy. And, you get to try them for 30 days before actually buying. Amazing. I picked out three bras to be shipped to me. They came in the mail and to my surprise, they fit perfectly. They’re easily the softest bras I own and they’re so pretty. Also, for you fellow nursing moms, I will be the first to say how much I despise nursing bras. Like, I truly hate them and never wear them because they’re so ugly. They definitely have their place during the first few weeks when you’re figuring out how to nurse, but why do they have to basically go all the way up to your collar bone?! These ThirdLove bras are soft enough to just fold down when I need to nurse Talie. I can’t tell you how happy that makes me. To try it yourself and see your matches, head over to thirdlove.com.
2. Focus on the good. | No matter what situation we’re in, there will always be a positive and a negative. In order to accept where we’re at, it’s important to focus on all the good things about where we are. For me, it’s feeling a little sexier and having that extra boobage when I want it. It’s being grateful for the miracle my body is and that despite now having stretch marks, my body created a child and now provides that child with everything she needs. If I constantly focus on what I’m now lacking or what I can’t wear or how things used to be, I’m going to be miserable and will never be able to accept how I’ve changed.
3. Embody my values. | We all have a picture of who we want to be that goes beyond what we look like. If we can figure out small ways to practice those values so that our actions are aligned with that mental image, we will feel a lot better about where we are at – not because of the outcome but because we are simply showing up. If we see ourselves as active people, finding a way to incorporate even some activity into our week is a great place to start. If we see ourselves as easy going, letting one event / conversation / situation roll off our back this week instead of stressing over it is a way to practice that quality. If we see ourselves as stylish, taking the time to get dressed once a week in an outfit you love will make you feel so good. Finding little ways to step into that mental image so that we’re actually living it can help us feel more fulfilled and whole. We are no longer focused on what’s lacking.
This week, I challenge you to accept yourself as you are. Your little boobs are beautiful. Your big boobs are beautiful. Your stretch marked boobs are beautiful. Your perky boobs are beautiful. They’re all beautiful. They’re all enough. You don’t have to change and even if you do, you’ll be beautiful then, too.