Despite what the media tells us, boobs come in a variety of shapes, sizes, textures and colors. This shit has made us so insecure about our naked bodies; our boobs are no exception. I have written this post to clear up a lot of misconceptions about boobs in the hopes of helping you heal and overcome your own insecurities and questions surrounding breasts.
The power of marketing truly blows my mind. I remember looking through magazines, movies and TV and seeing these beautiful models and actresses. They seemed to have perfect, perky breasts. It really wasn’t a thought in my mind to be embarrassed about my boobs until I was through puberty and considering the idea of allowing other people to actually see my boobs. I thought my areolae were too big. My nipples too flat. I thought I was a freak because I had hair around my nipples, and would spend time every day making sure I plucked all the hair out. There was no open dialogue about the normality of vast differences in breasts. If you find yourself feeling a little embarrassed about your boobs, I just want you to know that you don’t have to be. And whatever it is, it is SO normal. Boobs are super cool and also super weird. They can be 2 different shapes, you can have hairy nipples, 3 nipples, you can have super sensitive nipples. Speaking of nipple sensitivity, I have like...none. It kind of sucks, maybe? But I don’t know any other way. It doesn’t feel good (or bad) when my nipples are played with, because honestly I can’t really feel it.
All boobs are great boobs.
Our culture has instilled in us that boobs are objects. They are often seen as toys rather than body parts. YES, it is okay (and normal!) if your boobs are saggy, sensitive, insensitive, uneven, scarred, large, small, hairy or anything in between.
Nipple Hair, Though?
It is estimated that around 30% of the female population has nipple hair growth. The real stats are probably higher because if anyone was in the throes of their boob shame, they aren't going to admit to having nipple hair to anyone. It is totally normal, and rarely indicates that there is some abnormality. Nipple hair growth is one symptom of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) but you would have other symptoms, not just this one.
Thinking about getting rid of it? For years I plucked out every damn wiry strand. Now? I rarely fuss with it because it doesn't bother me. If it affects your confidence, though, removal is an option. Whatever you do, DO NOT use products like Nair or other chemical hair removers. These are super sensitive nipples we are talking about here! Plucking was my go to, and it always led to gnarly ingrown hairs. You could just snip them to keep them trim, or you could shave them. Some salons even offer a waxing options, but definitely do not try this at home with your regular wax.
Do I Really Need To Do A Self Breast Exam?
Yes and no. In recent years, medical professionals have shifted away from the idea that self breast exams are necessary. This is because women are not taught properly how to do it but also because studies have indicated that a woman who does the breast exam is no less likely to die from breast cancer than the woman that does not do the exam. It is increasingly being encouraged that you become intimately familiar with your unique breast shape and type, the feeling of your breast tissue and all of the regular bumps and lumps that are uniquely yours. Your breasts go through cycles, similarly to all of your other bodily functions, and you need to have an awareness of your own natural rhythm and cycle. If you haven't become comfortable in your awareness of your boobs and what they feel like yet, it definitely is not too late. Feel and touch on them regularly; if you have a partner, encourage them to be your second opinion. Having two people with a general familiarity of what is "normal" for you will be more beneficial if you ever feel like you come across an irregularity down the road. If you notice a change, especially one that is painful or involves swelling, discharge or itchiness, seek a medical professional. Do not just assume it will go away by ignoring the problem. I know this is a scary subject, but it doesn't have to be with a little education and a lot of self-awareness.
Did You Burn All Your Bras?
I didn't, actually. Sometimes I wear a bra, and sometimes I don't. I view bras now as another fashion accessory and not something that is unquestionably necessary. Wearing a bra is a choice, just as wearing makeup or shaving is a choice.
It's really uncomfortable for me to workout without a sports bra, so I don't. Most of my sports bras now come via my Ellie Activewear subscription box. I have never been let down. Some of them are for light impact like yoga or weight lifting, others for higher impact like jumping and running.
As I stated in my story of my younger self, I used to opt only for underwire bras with a lot of padding. Now, though, I definitely prefer little to no padding. I typically prefer comfort to aesthetics. Fortunately, I recently found True & Co. whose bras are both comfortable and cute. Some tops that I wear are very shear, so I often wear the X bra to wear underneath those tops for work. The fit is great, and they even have a little quiz to determine which bras are the best for your boob shape and size.
So, what happens if you don't wear a bra?
- You will feel like a free bird. You will probably decide you much rather prefer the freeing feeling of going braless. You know that feeling at the end of the day when you take your bra off? Yea, you can basically feel like that all day, every day.
- Your tops will fit differently. This can be positive or negative, depending on your mindset and the top. Some tops I prefer to wear a bralette with because it looks better and makes me feel more confident. Other tops just look better without a bra.
- Your back might start to hurt. The support that a bra offers is especially important for women with larger boobs. Without that support that your back is used to, there may be discomfort or pain. Don't just ignore that and push through it or there could be some real damage. Maybe trying a different style of bra that isn't as constricting or without wire could give you a more comfortable feeling while still offering some support.
- You will get some stares. You might not, but you probably will. I am always really amazed at the number of stares that I get directed toward my chest when I don't have a bra on. It's kind of annoying but I just tell myself it is out of curiosity and not coming from a harmful place. I am hopeful that it will become more and more normative and therefore will elicit less and less stares.