My boobs appeared in 4th grade, when I got my first period. Unfortunately, once my boobs were visible through my shirt, I had to make that first trip to the grand bra store.
For me, this trip was to the Gap. As with every other aspect of my femininity that hit me at a young age, my growing boobs were highly disappointing and extremely unsolicited. I was hysterical throughout the whole process. No training bra could prepare me for what was about to happen.
The combination 32A haunted me for the rest of my 4th grade life. What would happen if I took my shirt off in the changing room? What if someone saw my bazoomers and found out I was a blooming pre-teen who now had to wear a bra?
No Disney star could have readied me for the embarrassment I had created in my head. Fast forward 10 years later. My breasts have developed and so have my thoughts. I no longer hide in bathroom stalls to change out of my clothes or triple up on layers (even on warm summer days) because I can’t take the chance of having anyone see the wires under my bra or even worse: my bra strap sticking out.
As I left middle school behind, I left the 32A and the 34B too. Time and gravity added more to my burden, and I needed more support. I tried a size too big to see if I would be more comfortable having more room. I tried a size too small to see if I could squeeze them away. I tried a sports bra to see how flat I could make them appear.
Now as a senior, I wonder, will people really look at me differently if I don’t wear a bra? Time for an experiment: one week, no bra.
I had no expectations going into the experiment, but day one proved to be a disappointment. I was cold and so were my boobs. It led me to think this experiment would teach me less about the reactions from my surroundings and more about how I felt. I was not comfortable because I was not supported. My shoulders were tired from carrying the weight of my boobs.
I was so used to having a bra on that when I did not have it, I felt uneasy. I felt weird, saggy, uncomfortable and self-conscious. The week went on and I got more and more uncomfortable by the day. Nobody seemed to notice the fact I was not wearing a bra except me.
What did I learn? I came to the conclusion that wearing a bra should be a choice and not a social norm that is forced on me. I discovered that even when I felt my friends and family were not there to support me, I can always have the comfort and support that came from putting on a bra.
It was not until I was forced to live without one that I discover how much I truly needed bras. If I could go back and give my middle school self some advice, I would tell her, “Find your size and stick with it.” Live love bras!