Copyright by Trish Causey.
For most of my life that was all I was good for. Having breasts. And thick hair. Breasts and hair. That was me in a nutshell. Nevermind that I was intelligent, talented in the performing and literary arts, a Girl Scout, an honor student, an activist, a nice person. None of that mattered. I had thick, red hair and large, lust-inducing breasts.
I woke up one morning at the age of 10, and POOF! There they were. Size C practically overnight. Not long after, I was up to a DD. I went from being the wallflower nerd in 5th grade to getting weird looks from the boys who glanced at me from lowered eyelids but no longer talked to me.
At age 11, my ballet teacher measured me for my recital costume and announced (in front of my class, much to my horror) that my measurements were 37-26-37. She then had the nerve to tell me if I gained an inch in my waist, I’d have perfect measurements. I had recently started my period and was about to get braces. Having “perfect measurements” at age 11 was nowhere on my radar. And neither were boyfriends.
I was 13, working backstage at an international ballet competition, when a German photographer wanted to take “pictures” of me.
At age 15, I had my first experience of being mauled by a guy — a fellow cast member of a show, who was my ride home after a rehearsal. I got into his car, and as I began to put my seatbelt on, he climbed in on top of me and forcibly kissed me and groped my breasts roughly. With no other way to get home, I thought I had to let him do what he wanted so he wouldn’t leave me there at the deserted building at 10 o’clock at night. Lucky for me, my leotard didn’t have snaps at the crotch.
Working tech on a play, I stood backstage during a performance while one of the actors paced in the wings. Heavy character make-up covered his face. He stopped in front of me, looked at my breasts, and said, “If I didn’t have all this make-up on, I’d put my face in there and—” He shook his head vigorously back and forth. I had no idea what to say to that. He was married — with daughters. I was 16.
When I was volunteering with a ballet company at age 18, the ballet master of a Russian dance troupe attacked me in the Green Room after everyone else had left. Before I knew what was happening, he shoved me into a corner, maneuvered both of my arms behind me, and held my wrists in one of his hands while his other hand untucked my blouse. He grabbed my breasts and squeezed them hard. I was shocked by the pain. He pushed his knee between my legs which were trapped in a pencil skirt. The more I fought, the stronger he became. My only recourse when he kissed me was to bite his tongue as hard as I could. He backed off immediately, blood pouring from his mouth. I tucked in my shirt and told him he was never to do that again. Even in this situation, my Southern upbringing would not allow me to be rude.
Around this time, I was performing in a dance-intense musical. For the beginning of Act I, I wore a bra that showed off the curve of my breasts, but for the big tap-dance number at the end of Act I, I would change into a compression bra to help prevent bouncing. The local TV station came to film us during a dress rehearsal; and due to the tight filming schedule, there would be no costume change in between numbers. We performed one musical number that was mostly singing; and I asked if I could change really quickly, but the costume mistress said, “No.” I implored her, “I really need to change.” Again, “No.” I was tempted not to dance in the big tap number, but I was required to. Torn between dancing full-out or just marking it since I wasn’t wearing my compression bra, I attempted a middle-of-the-road approach to minimize my breasts bouncing up-and-down too much. Afterward, the costume mistress couldn’t look me in the eye. I asked, “Well?” She said, “It was … obscene.” Labeling my breasts as “obscene” damaged me more than I realized at the time.
At age 20, I traveled with a theatre company to South Korea for an international theatre competition. I was friendly with the troupe from Tblisi, in the Republic of Georgia. Just friends. Nothing happened. It was brought to my attention on the plane-ride home that almost everyone in the competition thought I’d fucked the entire acting company from Tblisi … and some of the Germans … and a French guy.
Back in the States, I was cast in another play. Sitting in the dressing room before one show, I was getting dressed when the male director walked in unannounced, holding his camera. He started snapping pictures, laughing at the women’s shrieks of dismay. He saw me in my bra as I was putting on my top, and he smirked as he took several pictures without asking my permission. I was taken aback but tried to play it off. Inside, I felt violated. The women’s dressing room no longer felt like a safe space.
At 21 and working the ballet competition again, I was more fully aware of my seeming powers over men, and I was ready to be slightly more proactive. An Adonis of a male dancer from Cuba lusted after me, but his partner didn’t make it to Round 2, so I couldn’t take that opportunity to the next step. I was surprisingly relieved. A ballet master from Spain wanted me; and one night while we were making out, he, of course, grabbed my breasts first. The intensity of the situation was too much, and while he wiped off his fogged-up glasses, I made an excuse about needing to do something and left.
I didn’t understand what the big fuss was about. I would think back to when I was 9, when my molestor, who lived down the street, would admire the beginnings of my breasts. She was greatly thrilled when my breasts came in when I was 10. The sexual abuse went on for two years, and I didn’t tell anyone because she threatened to kill my dog if I told. I lived in fear. And shame.
This, coupled with all the other sexually traumatic events, made me leery of sex. I was sexually attracted to men but simultaneously fearful of men.
I was still a virgin at 21 when I was raped. I knew the guy, and we were in my bedroom, just talking, fully clothed. With no warning, he was suddenly inside me. The pain was unimaginable. I felt like I was falling backward but still held in place. I almost blacked out as the room seemed to swim around me. He repeatedly ran his fingernails up and down my chest and across my bra. Then he commented that he’d dreamt of the day when he could get his hands on my breasts. I bled for four days, but I still felt his nails on my skin.
At the time, date-rape was not considered “real” rape. I was so embarrassed that I was still a virgin at 21 that I did not report the rape for fear the policemen would laugh at me. Or worse: it was too much to fathom sitting in a courtroom, having to explain why I had never had sex, when everyone around me thought I was a slut.
For years, everyone thought I was a “loose girl” because I had large breasts. Everyone just assumed I was a “certain way” because my Irish anatomy was genetically predisposed to being full-figured. Well, with the date-rape, I’d finally been penetrated.
My breasts were never pin-up fabulous, but they were large. And I was proud of them — but only because I knew they gave me power over men. At one theatre orgy when I was 24, a guy wanted time with them, so I laid back on the bed, preening, until he said — out loud where everyone heard, “They went to the sides.” I responded, “Yes, that’s what breasts do.” He replied, “Nevermind. They’re just sacks of skin.” Everyone laughed. And I was humiliated. He was accustomed to breasts that didn’t move, defied gravity, and were perfect(ly fake). As large as mine were, my breasts didn’t measure up.
Aged 25 and working as a leasing consultant at an apartment property, I’d forgotten the cardinal rule of being big-busted — never wear form-fitting sweaters. Sure enough, as I sat at my desk, a paint contractor I’d never seen before walked into the office. He took one look at my sweater and exclaimed, “Damn, but don’t you put Dolly Parton to shame!” How a complete stranger thought this was appropriate to say to me boggled my mind. Why he thought that was an appropriate thing to say in the workplace confuses me to this day.
In my late 20’s, I was having dinner at a restaurant with a male friend. At one point, I sat down at the nearby piano and played an arpeggiated song that looked much more difficult than it actually was, with fancy crossing-one-hand-over-the-other repeatedly up-and-down the keys throughout the piece. My friend leaned on the piano and said, “Do that again.” So, I did. “Again,” he encouraged me. So, I did, thinking he was impressed with my adequate piano skills. “You like that part, do you?” I remarked. He answered with a lascivious smile, “I like how your breasts get squeezed together when you cross your arms.” I stopped playing. And I have not played the piano in public ever since.
I hated my breasts, and I wanted them gone. I thoroughly researched breast reduction. I watched every nerd-channel show on plastic surgery, scrutinizing the process and the results. I even worked for a plastic surgeon and felt I could practically do a breast reduction consult and procedure myself by that point.
When I was married, I frequently asked my then-husband to massage my back to help release the knots. These massages were never spa-worthy or romance-novel-sexy. They were painful — horribly-hot, sharp, stabbing, searing-pain painful.
From the nape of my neck to the bottom of my ribs, from one shoulder across to the other, my back was one, huge knotted mass of constricted muscles and pinched nerves — for years. Constant back pain affected how I walked and how I slept — when I could sleep. Permanent red grooves still scar my shoulders from their weight.
I thought my marriage might work out. Things had looked up for a while, and I had surprised myself by thinking that I might actually grow to love him again. One afternoon, I was in the kitchen and made mention, quite off the cuff, that I had decided to have the breast reduction surgery. He shook his head, quickly getting angry, and he actually pouted.
I inquired what was wrong, and he said, “If you go through with it, I’ll never be able to make love to you again.” I was taken aback. “What are you saying?” I asked him. Still pouting, he said, “I would take one look at those hideous purple scars and be too disgusted to be aroused.” That cut me to my soul. And it solidified for me that he’d never truly loved me. No man ever had or ever would. I was nothing but breasts and hair to men.
External projections of cultural stereotypes compelled self-loathing within me I never would have imagined possible. Simply having large breasts made my body a target for repeated sexual abuse, and society assumed I “wanted” it or “deserved” it just because of the way my body developed when I was a child.
As an adult, I’ve given birth to a daughter, whom I breastfed. I purposely gained weight so my husband wouldn’t want to have sex, and I purposely stayed overweight in the hopes that men would leave me alone. Being obese wrecked my thyroid, made me pre-Diabetic, raised my blood pressure, and worsened my tendency for swelling in my legs and feet. Going through Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent post-traumatic stress certainly didn’t help. Nevertheless, I escaped my hellhole marriage a few years later and began a path of reclaiming my dreams, my identity, and my body.
I began an orgasm awakening practice based on Tantrik principles because reaching orgasm during masturbation was a laborious chore and I had never orgasmed during sex. A friend suggested I try sensual massage. I thought it was hokey, but I tried it anyway. At the same time, I read Tantric Orgasm for Women, that included a breast meditation, which I also thought was hokey. But I tried it anyway.
The sensual self-massage put me in touch with my body in a gentle, caressing way that I’d never experienced. I realized then that I had never been touched gently…. Ever…. By anyone…. Tingles rippled up and down my body. Energy zinged up my spine, across my scalp, and tickled my face.
The breast meditation involved gently holding my breasts from the outside while mentally entering my breasts from the inside. From my center. From my heart. This was the first time I experienced my breasts in relationship to my body and how they come from me. Since I was 9 years old, the attention my breasts received has been from the external world passing judgment, as other people groped, grabbed, shoved, clawed, and lusted after my breasts, while society applied the scarlet letter of shame to me.
My breasts had been the victim, not my enemy. For the first time in my life, I experienced my breasts as a part of me, and I cried uncontrollably. Holding my breasts, I wanted to apologize for ever hating them and sending decades of negativity to them.
I’m now a single mom, many pounds lighter, getting healthy once again; and I am infinitely happier. I’m living the life of my dreams.
While laying in bed one night, I noticed a woman on my laptop’s screen. I thought, “Wow, her breasts look good.” I then realized the screen was dark due to the screen saver, and the breasts I saw were mine. I looked good laying down — with my breasts to the sides as large breasts are wont to do.
It was at that moment I knew without a doubt that I will never have breast reduction surgery. After years of wanting my breasts gone, I cannot imagine having them cut now. Knowing that the surgeon will slice through every nerve around the nipple-areolar complex — which is wired directly to my clitoris — and then the surgeon will remove a huge triangle of nerve-rich skin from the underside of each breast, simply hurts my heart — not to mention what it might do to my orgasms. (I don’t let anything mess with my orgasms!) After making peace with my breasts and experiencing such wonderful sensations and incredible orgasms directly because of them, I can’t fathom not having them exactly as they are.
My breasts will never grace a magazine’s centerfold, and they’d never withstand the scrutiny of men accustomed to ogling implants and the “perfect” breasts of 20-somethings in skin-mags or porn. I will never look good bra-less, and swimsuits will always be my arch-nemesis. I can live with that. And however society chooses to judge my non-perky, not-perfect breasts is society’s waste of time and energy. I have other things to do than worry about what other people think — which I can’t control anyway.
My breasts may never seem perfect to anyone else. But they will always be mine. And I love my breasts.
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