I was 13 when that life-changing moment occurred. I was at the cinema, watching “Superman.” I got my first period right there in the theater! My Spanish stepmother hugged me and congratulated me. What for? I wondered, for growing up? I didn’t want to become a woman! I was a tomboy, with an awful fear of womanhood.
After that traumatic event (back then we didn’t get “the talk”), I started filling out. I transformed from a twig-like body to an unfamiliar, womanly figure. I grew really big breasts—at least they seemed huge to me. I felt I was being punished for not wanting to grow up. I wore extra large t-shirts and tops from the men’s department to make my physical changes less obvious, but the fact was that my breasts were impossible to hide. I felt so bad that I asked my dad to allow me have breast reduction surgery.
It didn’t help that I got into an accident which injured my spine and caused me to be bedridden for three months. During this time I gained a fair amount of weight. And, I grew even bigger breasts. I hated them. My dad told me that if I lost weight and my breasts didn’t become smaller, I could get breast reduction surgery. So I went on a fierce crusade to lose weight, and yes, my breasts thinned out too. I was so grateful! I was not only back to being like a twig but to a small 32B.
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My fear of womanhood was caused by two events that scarred me deeply. While I was in the big breast phase, men in Spain would often grope me while walking down the street. Can you imagine? Yet, as awful as that was, the patronizing chats my grandfather subjected me to made things worse. He drilled the concept that all men wanted from a woman was sex, starting with fondling their breasts, and that under no circumstances should I ever allow that to happen if I had a boyfriend. Being a womanizer, he knew men well. I suppose he was trying to protect me from lecherous men, but his words just made me hate my breasts even more.
I suppose this is why I can’t understand women wanting breast enhancement surgery. I guess it’s that feeling of shame my grandfather instilled in me. And the leering Spanish men of my youth didn’t help much either. I learned to be ashamed of my breasts, and I didn’t like my body. I no longer hear my Spanish grandfather’s words, but I sure wish I had outgrown all those insecurities at an earlier age.
Now, I am still a 32B—tiny by some standards of beauty, I suppose, but I no longer care. This is my body, and I like it now. Small and imperfect, not the beauty industry “ideal,” perhaps, but I can live with that!
Most women have a relationship, good or bad, with their breasts. How is yours going?