The Battle of the Body and the Breast.

by Jodi on October 17, 2011

in Self & Body

I started wearing a bra in the third grade. We can thank my gene pool for my well-endowed childhood.

It was a rude awakening when, as a shy twelve year old, my first boyfriend had his friends call me while on a sleep over and ask me if I was the one with “big tits.”

I’m pretty sure that was the first time I had ever heard someone refer to boobs as tits and I was naive to assume my little boyfriend actually respected me.

I was already aware of myself in this way; I dressed like a 30 year old. I hid in baggy clothes and was never comfortable with my curves. I was never taught how to be graceful in my body—I was ashamed of what was happening to me.

Christmas

I’m not much older here, maybe 14 or 15? I had hiding in clothes down to a science. There are few, if any, photos of me in a bathing suit. I almost never wore a shirt that touched me and I bought clothes a size too big because the lift my bust gave a shirt was too revealing.

on a family vaca

I loved photography but always knew how to hide in photos or disguise my figure. (Above, I’m wearing a two-piece…but won’t sit high enough for my bust to break water. Below, I knew what to hold, how to sit and how to distract from my figure.)

I used to scrapbook

When I was 14, we tried to get our insurance company on board with allowing me to have a breast reduction. Denied.

So I kept hiding in the types of clothes my mom would wear. I was soccer-momming my wardrobe.

My sister, however, embraced her curves.

brother and sister and I

We tried again, at 18, to get coverage for the reduction surgery, and this time the insurance company agreed. A double-D bust on my tiny frame had strapped me with back problems, sleeping issues and a degrading low self esteem.

I had a breast reduction.

Day after we found out we were pregnant with Jessica

Hello, Jodi! Welcome to the world … and welcome to your body. For the first time I bought a bra that was not a JCPenny catalog ordered minimizer. In fact, I was able to go to an actual store to try them on! I could even go without a bra if I wanted, or rely on simply a shelf tank for support.

I understood my body for the first time. I liked it. I could dress it.

Option

I finally had self esteem, and it did amazing things for my confidence in the dark. (wink, wink)

I’m a nice even C-cup these days. Of course with weight gain or loss, your bust is one of the affected areas, but I’ve never worn another minimizer (outside of breast-feeding boobs).

having fun

And even then, I was still able to comfortably breast feed both of my children exclusively for the first 6 months of their lives.

Before my reduction my nipples were actually underneath my bust, so when you’re cold, the normal response for a female never was a problem for me. But now, things are geographically where they should be, and it’s one of the most embarrassing problems I’ve had to learn how to disguise, yet.

As for losing feeling? Nope. Still got it.

In general, having the surgery was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself and knowing that the possibilities of my daughter’s genes will give her the same shame, I’m willing to bend over backwards to help her through her future decision should it arise.

How do you feel about your bust? Are those curves you’re willing to tamper with? For larger busted women it’s almost always about the comfort of carrying those honkers. It’s heavy. Running and exercising is embarrassing and uncomfortable. As for me, I would do it over again in a heart beat.

Now when I hide in clothes it has nothing to do with the curves below my shoulders and everything to do with the curves sitting above my hips. One problem at a time.

Bring it, curves.

bring it

Jodi lives naked on paper writing through her Life List and all that is being married to a serial entrepreneur. A mother to two, Jodi has a passion to inspire women to live outside of titles. She chronicles lists and links of Things To Do, takes way too many photos and dreams of living in one place for longer than 12 months. You can read more from Jodi on her blog, Jodi Michelle.

Maria October 17, 2011 at 7:34 am

You are beautiful. Thank you for sharing this story!

Jodi October 17, 2011 at 9:34 am

Thank you!

Kim October 17, 2011 at 7:43 am

I agree with Maria, beautiful!

A few years ago I lost a lot of weight (it found me again,damnit) and of course, the boobs lost weight. I never needed a reduction, but I did get them lifted. It was so very worth it, despite the pain. I don’t even have to wear a bra.

I’ve heard a reduction is pretty painful, was it? I know the lift wasn’t a walk in the park.

Jodi October 17, 2011 at 9:35 am

Yea it was painful. Very very painful and the recovery was worse. I’m allergic to general anesthesia so I threw up for a good 2 days after the surgery. BUT! I recovered quickly – things are swollen for a while and you don’t get to “see” the results for 10 days (I think) because you’re wrapped and stitched etc. But I was serious, I’d do it over again in a heart beat.

Crystal October 17, 2011 at 8:48 am

When I was 12, I became a C cup like overnight. Being a 5 ft 6th grader with a C cup meant lots of torment and failed mile tests in gym. My guardians made me feel terrible about my body. They would tell me I was “trying to look cute” in a condescending way; telling me I looked trashy. I was forced to wear shirt that were XXL instead of the L that I would normally wear, to hide them. In high school, I was forced to buy expensive minimizer bras. I wasn’t allowed to wear underwire until I was in high school. `
I am currently a DDD borderline F. I am still 5’1 and still have issues with my chest. Shopping for bathing suits literally drives me to tears. I have to buy an 18/20 in tops, but my bottoms are a 12. I rarely take full body photos, but I could never get a reduction. I feel like if I get a reduction, everyone who ever made me feel bad about my boobs wins.
I’m starting to get to the point where I don’t care about the sag. Anyone who gets close enough to see me without a bra won’t care they aren’t perpendicular with the floor. They are natural and I have plenty to be proud of. When I start feeling bad about how I cannot hide them no matter what, I remember all the woman who pay lots of money to have breasts that look like mine (when I’m wearing a bra.)

Jodi October 17, 2011 at 9:38 am

Crystal, that sucks. Not having support at home is brutal to deal with on top of torment and bullying from school. If you ever get the chance I would encourage you to do what’s right for your body, not your need to prove a point to the people who made you feel “less than” if that means not having a reduction – then awesome! But don’t do it because of what everyone else has said, whatever you do – you should do it for you. And yes, other people pay stupid money to have breasts like us but they have their own insecurities they’re dealing with … I don’t see how staying in pain and emotional turmoil serves them the right to “have what you have”. Just my opinion. ;)

Stacy October 17, 2011 at 8:58 am

Your story sounds so much like mine, I had a breast reduction at 17 for the same reasons: terrible back pain, couldn’t buy clothes… it was just awful. Its really great that you were able to exclusively breast feed your babies, lots of post reduction moms (including myself) struggle with that. Even on the days I wish I had a full supply of breast milk, I remember that a little formula is probably better than a mom in chronic pain.

If anyone is considering the same thing: go for it and don’t look back!

Jodi October 17, 2011 at 9:41 am

YES! My mom actually just had one this past year and wonders why she waited so long. It was her gene pool that made it possible for me … and she says she wishes she would have done it decades ago.

The BF – yes, amazing. I actually didn’t have a full supply for my daughter (looking back, she’s my firstborn) but I had enough calories and fat in what she did get that we made it through. Having been through that – I fed way more often with my second and had enough, supply wise, for him to be exclusive and still gain the weight needed. After I was done BF our daughter we supplemented with formula for a few months and it was a great decision – although I was tormented over it for a while when we were going through it.

Jennifer October 17, 2011 at 9:39 am

I had a breast reduction right after I turned 30 and it was one of the single best things I’ve ever done. I would do it over 10 times if it took that. And yes, it was SUPER painful. Way worse than my two c-sections. I went from about an H to a D. I wish I could have gone smaller, but it just wasn’t possible to go smaller without full nipple removal. I wasn’t able to breastfeed either of my babies, but I still think it was completely and totally worth it.

Jodi October 17, 2011 at 4:10 pm

Amazing! So glad you’re happy with it.

Brittany October 17, 2011 at 10:34 am

I want this so badly, and soon I will open the discussion with my dr. I am a DDD, and for years my back has killed me, and the straps digging into my shoulders really messes with my neck.

I guess I need to start researching what sort of paper trail I need to leave to make my insurance company think about covering this?

Jodi October 17, 2011 at 10:36 am

The only trail you need is your docs recommendation for the surgery based on the facts you just pointed out. Straps digging into the shoulders and back pain make it a medically necessary procedure. When it happens for you, I’ll feed you ice chips (which will really be frozen wine).

MariaH. December 13, 2011 at 1:58 am

I completely disagree that an ill-fitting bra makes a breast reduction a medically necessary procedure. Shoulder straps that dig in and back pain are both signs of the most common mistake when choosing a bra: a band that is too big and a cup that is too small.

However with bras ranging from 26 to 58 backs and from AA to N cup and above nobody needs to wear an ill-fitting bra. It is just a question of figuring out your size.

From my experience most people completely underestimate the size of their breasts. For example several websites give Christina Hendricks’ bra size as 36DD. Making an educated guess I would place her in the 30/32 G/GG/H (UK) range.

And quite a number of women stuck in 34 Cs would be much better off with 30Fs just like many women who wear 32-36 A bras actually need 30 D or 30DDs. DD is not a large cupsize, it is actually a very small cupsize compared to the sizes available out there.

I’ve been through this myself. When switched from a 44DD to a 40K (US) I experienced an instant reduction of back and shoulder pain. And yes, my bras are pretty and sexy! I even got a strapless bra and a sportsbra that both actually fit and contain the boulders. Check out herroom, biggerbras, breakoutbras, figleaves or if you are in Canada butterflycollection.ca. In the UK Debenhams or Bravissimo are a good bet.

Jennifer October 17, 2011 at 4:13 pm

Brittany I would recommend waiting until your kids are at an age that you no longer pick them up. You can’t lift anything for about twice as long as what they tell you. I couldn’t even change the clothes from the washer to the dryer without being sore after two weeks.

Ruby October 17, 2011 at 11:51 am

Having a breast reduction when I was 20 was the greatest thing I ever did (prior to marriage and kids of course)! I’m so glad it worked out so well for you too.

Katie October 17, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Maybe I’m in the minority on this one?, but I have a DD/E chest and don’t want a reduction. I would prefer them to be smaller, but it balances out my curves and I haven’t had many physical pains. Also, I don’t want to go through ‘elective’ surgery for many reasons. I found bras I love, and sometimes have to search, but can find great tops that look good on me. Maybe I would change my mind if they keep growing (or childbearing makes them way too big), but for now – surgery (pain, scar risks because I have a scarring problem) isn’t worth having a smaller chest.

Stacy October 17, 2011 at 1:06 pm

My reduction was termed medicallly necessary, although still elective, While the cosmetic differences were a plus, at seventeen I suffered from chronic back pain. I was taking prescription pain medication because my back would spasm painfully for hours. Aside from pregnancy, I haven’t had another back ache since my surgery and that has made all the difference in my life.

If you do end up needing one later, the scars aren’t so bad. I had a full keyhole procedure with nipple removal. My scars are incredibly light and have never bothered me at all. I am glad you are able to get through without the awful back pain that usually comes with large breasts, enjoy those girls!

Katie October 17, 2011 at 1:47 pm

That’s why I put elective in quotes. I realize that for many, it isn’t because of the pain and problems that can arise! :(

I have separate issues with scarring where I don’t scar properly, so I should avoid all surgeries and trauma to the skin possible.

I can’t say I’m totally hassle-free (if that’s possible with a large chest), but I am lucky I don’t have worse problems. I can handle where I am now, thankfully.

I’m glad your surgery helped and you’re feeling much better!!

Jodi October 17, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Loving this thread! I was hoping someone would share their “I wouldn’t do it!” opinion. I get the “rope” scars and 10 years later they’re all but invisible. My body reacts weird to scarring too but I went ahead with it for all the other reasons. Sleep was a big one for me – back pain – all of it. I didn’t mind a few scars if it meant I could sleep again.

Finding bras you love is AWESOME. Care to share where?

Katie October 17, 2011 at 5:27 pm

I definitely think it’s an individual choice and whether it’s for physical pain reasons or so-called vanity (looks, feel, not wanting them) – it’s up to the woman to decide! Why should I care what she does to her own body? I hope I never have to do it, but only because I don’t want surgery.

And of course! I found a specialty bra shop in my area. They work a lot with mastectomy patients and the like, but carry all sorts of specialty (and thus more sizes) bras. They were great to help me not only with the fitting but to find the perfect bra. And remind me the huge difference a newer bra will make even if you wear the right size – and I think that’s especially important for larger chested women! The brand is Fantasie. I haven’t tried to find it online yet, but I love them. Comfortable and supportive.

Katie October 17, 2011 at 1:48 pm

I realized that for many people it isn’t elective in the sense of being for vanity, that is. Just to be clear. :)

MegglesP October 17, 2011 at 2:54 pm

I have never had proportional breasts to go with my large frame (38Bish) and I am totally ok with that. I know women go through hell with their breasts, and I am just grateful I don’t have back pain, embarrassment, digging straps, etc. My sister had smaller breasts and decided on implants in college, but I just don’t think I could do it. I am happy for all of you ladies for making the decision to do something that improves your health and quality of life. Good for you!

SwingCheese October 17, 2011 at 6:31 pm

I’m right there with you! *38B high five!* No matter what my size, no matter what my weight, my rib cage (or the fat around it) always sticks out beyond my bust. I never have the curvy line up top that most women do. And it took me a long time to come to grips with that. Some days, I *still* wish I could pull off a sinewy line. But its just not how I’m built – I am built just like my mom, and other females on her dad’s side of the family. So I have a genetic legacy of being vaguely barrel chested with small boobs, but (to make up for it) totally kick ass legs. So there are trade offs :)

I was friends with a girl in jr. high, though, who had developed full C or D cups by 6th grade. At the time, I was kind of jealous, but in retrospect, I imagine things were harder for her than she ever let on. She was an athlete (golf & swimming), and I am in awe of her self-confidence (at that age, even) to just do her own thing and not let anyone else’s opinion sway her actions.

Jen October 17, 2011 at 3:48 pm

If breast reduction was the right choice for you, great–I think every woman should be able to do with her body what she wants.

However, as someone who grew up with the exact same problem as you, I was disappointed that you never mentioned learned to love your body for what it was (or trying to learn to love your body!). I think the solution to you hiding your body in photos was NOT a breast reduction (though that might have helped other issues), it was feeling better about yourself. I dressed in baggy clothes until I was out of college. I wish someone would have helped me realize that I could love my body, including my double-Ds and curves.

Jodi October 17, 2011 at 3:59 pm

I can see that. But as always there’s more to it than that. I definitely respect the women who choose not to have a reduction, we all have our reasons. I’m not sure I ever learned to love my body before the reduction for a myriad of reasons, all of which aren’t really appropriate for airing here – but now I went through the surgery and consequently learned about my body through that experience, I love myself now more than ever. Curves and all. It took a lot of counseling and seeing wholistic health counselors, nutritionists etc to get here – it wasn’t an easy road or an easy, flippant decision.

But you said: “If breast reduction was the right choice for you, great–I think every woman should be able to do with her body what she wants.” and then went to say “I think the solution to you hiding your body in photos was NOT a breast reduction (though that might have helped other issues), it was feeling better about yourself.”

And I guess the two statements are one in the same for me. Why is it wrong to have an elective, cosmetic surgery if it’ll help you feel better about yourself? Women get enhancements all the time. I wasn’t enhancing a darn thing, other than my health. I don’t see how I made a bad decision there, especially since it was such a personal one.

Laura October 17, 2011 at 7:30 pm

I had a friend in a similar situation only she was always denied by insurance up to age 27. She and her family and all friends saved and pitched in to pay for it. She was a different person afterwards. Soooo much happier and better back, neck, headaches, etc. I wasn’t in same situation but knowing her I can sympathize with you. Glad you got your surgery too. Anyone out there considering it, my friend would echo this post and say go for it!

Katie October 17, 2011 at 7:48 pm

My nickname was Stick with Boobs. I was super skinny with these big ole boobs. Awful! I had a reduction when I was 21 during a ten day break bn semesters. I dont remember that much pain, I think bc it mainly involves fat, not muscle. I remember going out to a party before I went back to school! They were the perfect boobs!

I’ve had two kids, and while I wasn’t really able to bf I’m ok with that. They are wonderful 34C and they sit right where they’re supposed to even without a bra. Even gaing and losing weight hasn’t really affected them. I fear my daughters will be in the same situation and if they a reduction I’ll support them 100%.

Hands down it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. It changed my life. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.

Stacy October 17, 2011 at 8:08 pm

Mine wasn’t that painful either, I remember more of a pressure sensation. The worst part of it for me was having to have my mom wash my hair, etc since I couldn’t lift my arms. Also, my mom made me get up and move so maybe I didn’t get too sore because I wasn’t allowed to be still for long…

kathy October 17, 2011 at 8:00 pm

I waited until I was 54 to have a reduction. I went from a DDD to a full C. Unlike most of the other commenters, I had no pain whatsoever and the recovery time was much quicker than the dr. had prepared me for. It is now 10 months later and my scars are almost unnoticeable. I would have this elective procedure done all over again in a nano-second!
For me, I think I waited so many years because I was brought up with the mentality that to have an elective surgery like this was a “vanity” or a “pride” issue. I not only had to rethink this whole “stinkin-thinken”, but had to get to the point of realization that I was SO TOTALLY WORTH it!
I cannot emphasize enough to anyone who may be considering a breast reduction…go for it! You will never be sorry. Like my dr told me…everyone says to him afterward – “I don’t know why I waited so long to have this done.”

Stacy October 17, 2011 at 8:09 pm

Agree 100%. I also didn’t have much pain, more pressure than anything. I would do it again in a hearbeat!

MommaC October 18, 2011 at 10:49 am

I had a reduction when I was 31. Best thing I ever did. I wish I had not waited so long! Now, it appears I need a reduction in some other areas…but that is an altogether different matter. ;-)

Aubrey October 18, 2011 at 3:45 pm

I am currently a 36/38F My back is always hurting my hips go out of place my neck has lost any curve it used to have. I really would love to have a reduction and be a nice C or even a D To be able to buy bras that don’t cost me my first born son. Also I am pretty sure I would be 20lbs lighter if I had them reduced. I am terrified of ‘going under’ though. I didn’t even get my wisdom teeth removed like I need to cause I am so scared. It’s ridiculous I know. I have had 3 csections but general anesthesia scares the crap out of me.

Rebecca October 19, 2011 at 2:00 am

I wear a 34DDD and I’m 5’9″, so that might be part of it – my frame is able to support the weight better than someone who is shorter. I used to get crazy neck and back aches, but then I started weight lifting. I strengthened my back, shoulders, core, and chest over a few months, and I don’t notice any problems now. I’m a server, so I lift heavy trays all day and am on my feet for hours on end – not to the extent of a full-on mom day, but with similar physical requirements. A reduction might not be in the cards for everyone, but with a few minutes of lifting a day, you might be able to minimize your symptoms.

Also, I really like how Jodi has commented on nearly everyone’s posts. It’s nice to see that you’re still involved, even after you posted your article.

Stacy October 19, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Rebecca, I actually did physical therapy to strengthen my muscles prior to surgery… but as a someone who had been cheering for ten years, I already had quite a bit of muscle tone from lifting people and it did no good. The best part of it was the oh so lovely heating pad I got to lay on at the end of therapy :) Glad you were able to avoid surgery and you don’t have as much discomfort!

Rachel November 1, 2011 at 11:04 pm

Like a lot of women on here, this story is much like mine! Minus the reduction, however. I am 18 years old and have size 38D breasts. I am a not super heavy-set, but am not a stick figure in any way. I have been struggling with weight issues most of my teenage life, even into my adolescent years. I hit puberty very early, almost overnight, and honestly it freaked me out. Ever since then, I have been up and down with my weight and continue to struggle with dieting and exercising. One of my biggest insecurities is definitely my chest. I want to love myself and feel good about my body, but it is so discouraging when I shop with my friends (who, of course, are all pretty small chested girls). It’s hard to find bras that fit right, support, and make me feel sexy. And shopping for shirts and dresses has been not too fun, especially since I can’t go bra-less.
A reduction is probably not in the cards for me, given my age and the fact the I can’t afford it, so I guess what I would like to know is how do you all learn to accept your bodies? This has been something I’ve been struggling with and would like any advice you can give!

Logan November 16, 2011 at 12:25 am

It’s a struggle to do it and what I suggest is not focusing on it and find things you like about your breasts (cute mole on your right one? nipples have a nice shape or color? or even give them a silly or fun name like left & righty or simply the girls, or even just the pleasure they can bring you). Even if your not a big girl, Lane Bryant has great bra’s for busty girls. I try to consider my breasts as sexy, there’s nothing wrong with small breasts I just tend to prefer curves. Men like curves also. One thing that is soooo hard to do is to stop comparing yourself to everyone. Your friends have small breasts, thats good for them but you always have lovely large breasts and thats good for you too! Maybe you can branch out and find some friends that have similar body shapes to you and it will make shopping easier or ask your friends to try stores that will fit you better (if they are good finds they will be willing to go!) Aim to shop at stores that are at malls or department style so there’s something for everyone. Torrid is for bigger girls and their clothes are awesome but a bit pricy, the Avenue also has some nice clothes (I got this nice plain white top for 10 dollars and some sunglasses for 5). You could also invest in a good custom bra as a present to the “girls”. I personally feel much better with a cute bra under my shirt. Just remember there’s no “right” or “wrong” body type and everyone is different. Learning to love yourself is a life long process but it’s one that’s always worth it because your worth it.

Logan November 16, 2011 at 12:08 am

I’m big chested as well and I’ve thought of getting a reduction because they sag but really I doubt I will because surgery sounds scary and do I really want scars and my natural nipple to be changed into a different shape? If it’s because the pain issues/back issues then I say go for it. But if it’s purely or mostly self esteem I’d suggest trying to love it before you change it because I know there’s quiet a few women that get addicted to plastic surgery because of low self esteem. I have body issues also and when I’m upset or feeling depressed I will pick at those issues. And use them as a fall back “if I wasn’t so fat or if my nose was smaller of if this was perkier then my life would be better”. I’m happy this helped your body issue but IMO surgery should really be a last resort because thinking can be changed but you really can’t reserve this kind of surgery. I hope if your daughter develops as you did that you will tell her to be proud of her body and only consider surgery if she has back problems.

Logan November 16, 2011 at 12:26 am

reverse*

Kristin December 5, 2011 at 9:44 pm

Its hard for me to read through this. I’m a petite busty woman (32F) and I have always been ashamed of my breasts. They make me feel so much larger than I know I am. My clothes don’t fit, I constantly cover-up (scarves, hoodies, baggie shirts are my best friend).

My older sister, who is the only other woman I know who has a body-type similar to mine, just got a breast reduction. I completely support her and am so happy to see the way that she views herself improving. She’s finally excited to wear clothes and go swimming and live her life (something she hasn’t been able to).

But why is that a reduction seems to be the only option? What can I do to make myself feel better about the body that I have without feeling like the only option I have is to reduce, to change? I want to feel positively about my body, but how can I when I feel like every outlet I find with women similar to me choose to operate? Are there any resources (blogs, testimonies, etc) that anyone here knows about?

I do want to say that I’m really proud that you took the steps to make a change in your life. I’m sure it altered every moment of your life from that point on in a positive direction and that takes a lot of courage. Thanks.

MariaH. December 13, 2011 at 2:10 am

Check out the communities bustingout and thirty_twod on lifejournal. Also start reading blogs like hourglassy, investinyourchest, brasihate, thinandcurvy, sophiajenner, busts4justice, …. Finding other women who have a similar bodyshape and problems really helps. There are also specific brands of clothing out there that are designed for your body shape (I especially like BiuBiu), you’ll fell so much better about yourself when you finally have clothes that actually fit you.

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