To The Girls,

We have had a tumultuous relationship over the years, haven’t we, you and I.

Our story begins, as it usually does, in the teenage years. A time of great confusion and disharmony between us. I remember the hours spent staring at you in the mirror in frustration, wondering when you would ever grow! Furtively looking for signs of progress but barely being able to claim a AA cup size.

I imagine you didn’t relish this time in our life any more than I did. You certainly had cause for complaint. You were routinely squished, forced to sit higher and closer together then what was natural. Manipulated into preposterous positions by push up bras that contained more foam padding than a king sized mattress. Poor teenage boys must have been perplexed when, having thought they were being granted access to cop a feel, were instead met with a handful of foam stuffing or rubber chicken fillet.

Following the turbulent teenage years and early 20s, it was a happy relief to finally reach our late 20s. A time in which I could not only accept but embrace you in all your small sized glory. You were finally freed from the oppression of the push up bra and allowed liberty to jauntily and proudly be displayed for what you really were: perky, petite and perfect!

In fact, during this time pretty much all bras were cast aside to make way for loose backless tops and halter dresses, all worn braless. For the rare times in which a bra did feel necessary, I finally found and embraced one that fit me perfectly; and I didn’t give a fuck that it happened to be a Bonds training bra!

Following on from this period of love and acceptance of my small busted beauty, came pregnancy. I anticipated with excitement the changes that pregnancy would bring. How I looked forward to the promise of swelling breast size and finally being able to fill out an adult sized bra!

Unfortunately the only thing that seemed to increase in size while I was pregnant were my nipples. Suddenly my previously cute, pink areolas turned into giant dark saucers that dominated my small breasts. And not just my areolas. My nipples suddenly began protruding out so far that I had to fold them down into my bra to stop them from peeking out and mounting a full-blown escape. Each time I stook naked in front of the mirror I was confronted with my nipples accosting me like two fingers pointing at me; accusing me of some unknown crime.

But this stage in our journey was met with amusement rather than negativity.  I knew that this period of transition was building to something far greater. You, my girls, were preparing for the greatest task of your existence. I knew you were destined to breastfeed and nourish my growing baby!

And yet how quickly our healthy relationship turned sour. You too must have been stunned by the sudden birth, almost 3 months premature. You were precipitately required to produce milk for an infant in the NICU. A task, it turned out, you were ill prepared for.  

I felt that my whole body had failed me by being unable to carry my child safety to full term. And you, my breasts, added insult to injury by refusing to produce enough milk to feed him. For months on end I mercilessly punished you for your failings. Hours upon hours spent pumping breast milk, performing breast compressions, enduring excruciating blistered nipples and ingesting nauseating medication all with the goal of increasing milk supply.

I couldn’t even look at you without hurting. I avoided mirrors and began getting dressed without looking at my reflection.  You had become a daily reminder of my inability to nourish my child; a task that I had emotionally and mentally intertwined with being able to be a good mother.

Surprisingly, despite the long and arduous journey to establish milk supply, it was through breastfeeding that we finally seemed to find our salvation. Eventually breastfeeding became easier and I was finally able to look at you and no longer measure your worth by your size or physical appearance. Instead, I watched on in wonder at this new superpower we seemed to possess. It was here, at my breast, that my baby found comfort, security and sustenance.

You, my small but but mighty mammaries, contain the power to sooth a child to sleep or quell a toddler tantrum. You formed a connection between my baby and I, a bond like no other.

These days you are looking decidedly less bouncy and perky then you used too. But I no longer waste time or emotional energy on mentally criticising you. Like an old wise woman in a fairy tale, I know that the slightly weathered and deflated look you now possess comes from your years of experience and maturity.

So from now on we will forge on as friends. Whether it be learning to breastfeed another baby or shopping in the pre-teen section for bras, I intend to do so with self-love and confidence.

Because I finally understand that you are far more powerful than your petite appearance suggests. You, my itty bitty bosoms, are worthy not only of my acceptance but also of my pride.

Love  Phoebe

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