We have been together for most of my life. You arrived early. I was about 10 when I first needed a bra and I must be honest, I neglected you a bit. Didn’t get measured, wore a few dodgy Ethel’s specials (Ethel Austin for those outside Merseyside) The fact that I was a fat kid didn’t help either. The extra weight contorted your shape, affecting your development.
I’ll be honest, I was bloody delighted you showed up. As a spotty, obese, geeky teenager, my tits were the only things I had going for me. Next to my undeveloped friends, I was busty and curvy (read ‘fat with big boobs’) Not that any boys were arsed about any part of me, including my breasts.
Soon enough my friends bloomed, and I didn’t look quite so buxom. In an attempt to look attractive, as I got older, my tops got a bit more revealing (not too revealing, I have never had ‘the figure’) I thought of you as my best assets. You got me a bit of attention. The wonders of hindsight tell me that, actually, that kind of attention never benefited me but that is a whole separate article.
After having my sons, I felt like Pamela Anderson. When my milk came in, you were voluminous; ripe and full. Leakage aside, you were in your prime. From a visual viewpoint, at least. Shame you were rock hard and on fucking fire most of the time. Any contact made me wince in pain.
The thought of anyone touching you still repulses me now but for very different reasons. I feel like we are an old married couple. I don’t find you attractive any more. We are going in different directions. You are heading south. The annual cycle of yo-yo dieting has taken its toll.
The issues started before the breastfeeding. Shopping for a bra for my wedding was a nightmare. Every single one was wrong. The size. The shape. The straps. My friend nearly left me in M&S after trying on the 598th bra, only for it to make me look like I had boobs made from Dairylea Triangles. It wasn’t the bras. It was you two that were the issue I did get a cheap one from New Look in the end. A size too small, but it got me the cleavage I needed. And I have never even bothered with a strapless bra.
Empty, flaccid sacks. Like deflated balloons. I am the only person I know that HATES taking my bra off. If I could shower with it on, I would. You feel so floppy and loose and out of control without a bra. I can feel my shoulders curl over because of the clumsiness of it all. Like I am trying to scoop you up into a pile in my arms to stop me tripping over you. It’s a very physical discomfort. Not a pain but an aching awkwardness that makes my skin crawl. A deep revulsion.
The stretch marks don’t bother me so much. The size I am ok with. The shape and the position are the worst things. My chest is flat and bony until about elbow level, where you begin to roll out to the side. My nipples are too low down. If I could just hoist you up a bit and add some volume up top, we’d be fine. I don’t want Jordan-esque torpedo tits. A bit further up and a bit further in. It’s not too much to ask is it? I would feel like Melisandre in Game of Thrones, when she gets Jon Snow to grope her at Castle Black. Instead, I feel like Melisandre in Game of Thrones when she disrobes to reveal herself to be a 700-year-old hag.
Now, I know I should be grateful for you. You fed my babies. My aunty has lost one breast and part of another to cancer. You are there, and you are healthy. I am lucky. However, hideous you are. I am lucky. There is even a whole Instagram movement – #saggyboobsmatter – which tells me I should be celebrating you. Looking at all those other boobs, all shapes and sizes with nipples of varying colours, they all look great. Why can’t I feel like that about you? I struggle with body positivity. I have read Body Positive Power by Body Posi Panda and I am no further on with it all. Intellectually, I get it. I am there. I appreciate bodies and their beauty. But my own? No. Emotionally, I am just not there.
Boobs are fantastic. They are amazing. I get why so many people are into them. But I can’t help but feel like our marriage has soured. You’ve changed. I have changed. I don’t know where this relationship is going. We can’t divorce, so it looks like accepting my role in your disfigurement and learning to live with you is the best I can do. Or I can start saving for a boob job.
Pass me the piggy bank and a bra for the shower, please.
Jemma Anglesea is a 30-something mum of two young boys, James and Joseph. After the birth of her youngest son in 2016, Jemma started blogging as a way of relieving the struggles of parenthood and sharing her experience with others. Jemma has a passion for mental health and infant loss awareness. She is also passionate about cake (eating not baking) and her celebrity crushes, comedian Greg Davies and tv doctor, Xand Van Tulleken. Bryony Gordon, Katie Kirby, Sara Pascoe and Stevie Nicks make her ‘girl crush’ list. Jemma originally studied as a journalist, graduating for UCLAN in 2004 but currently juggles two job, by day working for a high street bank and by night, pulling pints at her local pub. Jemma lives in Liverpool with her children and her husband, Rob.