I have big boobs and I’m not afraid to use them (sometimes)

I’ve considered breaching this topic a couple of times now, but held back because A) I didn’t feel like I had any fully-formed thoughts save for a few small, internal rants that would reappear inside my head every time I wandered into the lingerie section of any department store, and B) I assumed no one would really want to read about some girl’s bra shopping frustrations. But, after spending the past few days preparing for my family’s upcoming trip to the Gulf Coast, shopping for flip flops, sunscreen, and the ever dreaded swimsuit, I’ve decided to throw caution to the wind and word vomit all over y’all about a subject very near and dear to me (quite literally). So read on, dear readers who I hope will still want to be my friends after you finish reading this post, if you care to learn anything and everything about my boobs.

I’ve had a large chest for as long as I can remember. After I hit puberty and finally started wearing “real” bras (not those weird cotton ones that are basically just half of a tank top and given to young girls who wish they could wear a bra but can’t, so they just kind of fake it), my breasts kept growing. Even after most of my teenage friends reached a plateau (ha) in their boob growth, mine seemed like they were moody teenagers who basically looked around at what everyone else was doing, flashed a proverbial middle finger, shouted “GO BIG OR GO HOME, BITCHES!” and just kept on truckin’. By the time I hit college, I had accepted that the size of my chest was my literal and metaphorical burden to bear. These boobs were my Mount Everest(s). (I didn’t realize when I started this post how many great boob puns would come out of it. Score.)

But while I accepted the burden and all the frustrations that came along with it — having to buy shirts a size bigger than normal just to accommodate the size of my chest, leaving the lingerie store feeling defeated after trying on nine different styles of bras that all did not fit correctly, never being able to wear strapless dresses without employing some kind of wizardry, etc. — I never truly embraced the curves I was given. My flat-chested friends told me how envious they were of me. Friends who also had big boobs sympathized with my frustrations. But many of them alike told me to “show it all off,” to wear dresses that displayed how well-endowed I was on top, that I would at least get some looks and maybe a couple free drinks out of it. This idea made me anxious and insecure, and any time I wore a low-cut item of clothing, I felt completely out of my comfort zone. I wore tank tops underneath my more revealing dresses, and it took me awhile to get up the courage to wear v-neck shirts. I was convinced that things that looked “normal” on other girls with “normal” sized breasts would end up looking slutty on me. Sure, women all over the place wore tube tops or push-up bras to show off what they had, but when I did it, I didn’t feel sexy, I felt like I was selling myself.

I won’t go into a full discussion on the following topic, since it’s a different subject for another time, but I couldn’t write this post without at least addressing it. I think it’s easy for women not to embrace their bodies or play up their good features and allow themselves to feel sexy because we put so much emphasis on how others perceive the way we dress. Sure, maybe there are women out there who only dress for themselves, for the way their clothes make them feel, but how many times have you heard the phrase “dress to impress”? How often do we ask for other people’s opinions on our outfits? We want affirmation from the outside that we look good. And women who do play up their good features, their boobs or their butts or their legs, and dress to feel good about themselves, are labeled for that. But since when did self-confidence equal sluttiness? How does the neckline of a woman’s shirt or the length of her skirt have anything to do with her own sexual promiscuity? This notion was obviously even at the back of my mind, a self-proclaimed progressive feminist, as I tried to hide my chest under extra layers.

Today, however, when I was out picking up a few things for my vacation (sidenote: who can ever have enough travel-sized toiletries? I spent at least 20 minutes in that aisle perusing the tiny bottles of shampoo…), I decided on a whim to try on a cute black swimsuit that caught my eye. I had already purchased a new, relatively modest — meaning that it straps the girls in pretty well — swimsuit for the trip using a good chunk of one of my spring paychecks…and I think I probably promised my firstborn child in exchange for it as well. This swimsuit was expensive, much more than I would usually consider spending on something I won’t wear every day of my life, but it was cute and had a tiny little adorable floral print on it, and if you know me, you’ll understand why I could justify selling my soul for a swimsuit because of the print. Anyway, given how expensive this first swimsuit was, I decided it would probably be good to have a cheaper backup suit, just in case the cute floral one got tragically left behind somewhere or set on fire or eaten by a sea monster or something. (I’ve been watching too much Game of Thrones. Knowing my family, it’s more likely someone will spill wine on it and I’ll never get the wine smell out.)

Like any typical, self-loathing woman, I detest swimsuit shopping. Scratch that, I hate trying clothes on at all. I think the combination of the dressing room lights, mirrors, and my tendency to find my own flaws makes for an extremely unpleasant experience no matter what the garment is. So when I entered the fitting room, I was not expecting success. I was expecting, at best, to leave the room not crying, but thinking eh, close but no cigar. It’s a wonder I even got up the lady balls to walk in there in the first place, but I did, and I when I tried on the swimsuit, my first thought upon looking in the mirror was . . . my boobs look hot in this. Not wow, my boobs look terrible. Not you look like a dirty whore in this suit. Not even oh dear god, how will you ever live with yourself if you let the rest of the world see you in this swimsuit? I looked at myself and felt good. Attractive. Maybe even sexy, although it was pretty hot outside and my eyeliner was starting to melt, so that kind of killed the overall look. Regardless, I didn’t feel like my usual fitting room pile of crap; in fact, I felt like quite the opposite, and that was big. Let me elaborate by saying this style of swimsuit is one I never would have seen in a magazine and said, “Yes, uh huh, that would look great on me, specifically my enormous boobs.” It’s the kind with a chest section that is basically two triangles of fabric and thick straps that tie behind your neck. It is what I would call a Cleavage Galore suit, and it’s the most revealing swimsuit I’ve ever worn.

So I bought it.

I bought it because sometimes the only way to feel empowered about your body is to empower yourself. This swimsuit for me was a tangible representation of finally starting to own and embrace a part of my body that I’ve been hiding for most of my adult life. I’m not going to let myself be afraid of showing a little skin sometimes. No, I’m not going to go all Real Housewives of New Jersey all of a sudden and start wearing tight, cleavage-displaying leopard print tops on a daily basis — I obviously know how to dress modestly for the workplace, and I still like feeling comfortable in my baggy sweaters and flannel on the weekends. But I’m going to be less afraid of feeling sexy and letting my boobs look good. And okay, I realize this swimsuit isn’t going to change my entire self image in one day. I mean, I’m really only going to be wearing it on a low traffic beach in Florida for a week, but I’m going to wear it and know that doing so does not make me a slut. This is a big step for me and my boobs, and I think it’s (finally!) going to be the start of a beautiful friendship.


michigan is like an ex-boyfriend I’ll never get over, or, now I have to find a new coffeeshop for the summer and that is making me angsty

I’m home for the summer now. Almost two weeks ago, half of my building walked across a stage and received their high school diplomas, and then mere hours later I frantically hugged each girl goodbye as I raced around my little residence hall, cleaning up the last dust bunnies and sorting through all the piles of donations for the local thrift store in an effort to close everything down by the holy grail hour of 6pm. Then, I spent one blissful week on a deserted campus, drinking iced coffee and laughing and staying out until 4am with this beautiful group of people I had been forced into a professional AND social environment with only nine months ago. I ignored all the packing I had to do until the last few hours before I was scheduled to leave, because I knew that when I looked back on that precious week fifteen years from now, I was going to regret the minutes I didn’t spend with my friends, rather than how much of a frenzied mess I was in those final moments, shoving all my belongings to be stored in one half of the usual space they occupy. Finally, after a week of music, goodbyes, inappropriate card games, and plenty of local beer, I hastily loaded my car with random items I thought I might need between now and August and started driving toward home with only my (apparently ridiculously inadequate, though I did not know this before I started my trip) iPhone navigation app telling me where to go, a front seat full of junk food, and a pounding headache from the whiskey I foolishly imbibed until 3am the night before.

I think it’s safe to say that, after a road trip that included being rerouted by my GPS and taken an hour out of my way, getting stuck in two hours of Chicago rush hour traffic, and an arrival at my overnight stay in Madison nearly three hours later than I expected, my first solo driving journey back home was not at all what an anxiety-ridden, control freak introvert like me would prefer. But I made it in one piece, and suddenly, my arrival back in my hometown seemed…extremely anti-climactic. Sure, my family was excited to see me, my dogs gave me plenty of kisses and smacks with their wildly wagging tails, and I finally got to see the fruits of my parents’ long-anticipated kitchen remodel that was just finished. It was an appropriate homecoming. But somewhere in between opening every cupboard in the new kitchen just to find a coffee mug and attempting to unpack all of my crap in a room that is used mainly to store random knick knacks and the occasional rocking horse (don’t ask), I said to myself, “Why is it that you wanted to spend an entire summer here, again?”

I’ve written about home before. It is not the physical place or the people that make it hard for me to be back. It is the fact that I don’t fit here anymore. The things that are “mine,” the pieces of my new home that make it familiar for me, are not here. I suddenly realized, when trying to plan out how I would be spending my endless days of nothing, that I have fully adjusted to my life in northern Michigan. I just wanted to sit at my favorite coffeeshop and write this blog post, not find some new coffeeshop with baristas who don’t know my name and could very well be annoyed by me sitting there for six hours and only ordering one beverage (doing this probably makes me a jerk no matter where I go, but look, I’m usually broke and at least the employees at my regular places in Michigan pretend they don’t care that I camp out there and nurse a mug of French roast all frickin day). I wanted to order my favorite local beer with dinner, not have to taste a bunch of new Minnesotan ones to find one I like. I wanted to sit, sweat my brains out, and breathe heavily by the gorgeous lake after my morning run kicked my ass, not indoors on the couch in my parents’ living room. I wanted to know exactly where and when the good local music would be playing, I wanted to come home at night to the comfy bed I’ve gotten used to sleeping on for a year, I even wanted to be annoyed by the leaf blowers that frequent the path outside my window each morning and put in my earplugs and go back to sleep just to spite them (…okay, that might be going overboard with the nostalgia). I wanted all of those Michigan things I was so comfortable with to be here as well.

It’s funny, because when I made the initial decision to come home for the summer, it sounded like perfection. Home sounded like this shining beacon of hope when all my previous seasonal plans didn’t line up correctly; I was convinced coming back was the best option for me. I hadn’t had a summer free of work obligations in four years, and the idea of having nothing on my agenda except my family’s upcoming vacation to Florida sounded like pure bliss. This was going to be my break, my chance to make progress on grad school plans, to get that always elusive sleep that I desire during the school year, to maybe go visit friends from college whom I haven’t seen since we graduated. I wasn’t going to be lazy, just “less busy” than usual. Never mind that I hadn’t been home for more than two weeks at a time since I graduated college, or that I had a track record for getting needlessly restless on my second day back every time. How could this go wrong?

How? Because I’ve obviously fallen in love with my new home. And that makes me happy and sad all at the same time. Happy because I had no idea when I signed my initial contract two years ago that it would bring me so much joy and discovery in such a beautiful place. Sad because I know it can’t be permanent, and all these nostalgic feelings I have for it after leaving for the summer have just been a taste of what moving for good will feel like. When you really think about it, the concept of “place” beyond just the physical descriptors is so hard to define, and it’s even harder, when you are someone who doesn’t have a family or roots in a particular location, to make a place feel like one where you belong. But I really do think I’ve made that little corner of Michigan My Place over the past two years, and that makes me even more excited and ready to return for a third year in the fall.

In the meantime, I’m trying to readjust to living in my hometown as an adult again. I’m reminding myself that if I get restless or bored or frustrated, I can jump in my car and drive somewhere (because sometimes when I’m back in my parents’ house, I default to feeling like a teenager with limited freedom all over again). I have things to do, projects to keep myself occupied. I’ve visited the public library under the pretense of studying for the GRE and getting some more writing done. I’ve started making a dent in my summer reading list (mostly chick lit and comedic non-fiction essays, but hey, it’s vacation, I’m not busting out Anna Karenina). I’ve gotten back into exercising. I’m focused on coming out of this summer alive and well, and perhaps even with a new appreciation for the place where I grew up. I don’t think I’ll ever move back here for more than a summer, but maybe this time around, I’ll end up finding some things that make it feel like My Place again.

sun setting over Lake Michigan, otherwise known as one of the reasons I will cry myself to sleep tonight.

sun setting over Lake Michigan, otherwise known as one of the reasons I will cry myself to sleep tonight.