On my first day of middle school, I brought the following items with me:
- Smackers lipgloss. (Because you just never know when you might have your first kiss.)
- Teen Spirit - (the deodorant, not the Nirvana hit single.)
- A plain teal binder. (Because the Lisa Frank kitten thing was soooo elementary school.)
And I felt very grown up while walking to middle school for the first time — never mind that my parents were trailing me in the family station wagon, and just had to honk when I walked through the crowded entrance. After all, I had all the grown up accessories I needed.
Or so I thought.
Because even though my lips tasted like Dr. Pepper, and my armpits smelled like fruit cocktail, and I had ditched the Lisa Frank kittens of yesteryear behind, what I didn't bring, was a bra.
For one thing, I didn't need a bra. I had just turned 13. My nipples were the same pale pink mosquito bites I'd had all my life. And for another, it never in a gazillion years occurred to me that I would be taking my shirt off in front of other people. (See above comment re: first kiss.) So, when Ms. Phillips gave a shrill blast on her whistle and said "go to the locker rooms and put on your P.E. uniforms, ladies," and I realized that said locker room had no individual stalls, I did what any other terrified, underdeveloped first-day-of-middle-schooler would do: I ran to the bathroom.
And that's exactly what I did for the first 9 days of school. While the locker room would transform into a Nabokov wet dream, I would grab my shirt and shorts and scurry off to change in a bathroom stall.
I was sure my clandestine maneuvers had gone unnoticed until one day, on my furtive forray to the bathroom, an 8th grader with big breasts and an even bigger mouth pointed at me and said "Girl, why are you always changing in the bathroom? You got something to hide?"
Uh, duh. But I wasn't about to tell her that, so I pretended I didn't hear her and scuttled off to my stall.
But after running about ten thousand laps around the grass (Teen Spirit FTW!), she was waiting for me with her friends.
"How come we never seen your titties?" She said, practically without a question mark. "Maybe you aren't really a girl after all." Her friends slapped her a few high-fives, and cackled fiendishly.
So, after school that day, I dragged my mom to the Westside Pavilion for a little late afternoon bra shopping.
("But honey, you don't really need a bra…" )
The Junior's Department at Macy's had an assortment of pastel training bras that hung listlessly from the clothing rack. The saleswoman came over to help us, and after eyeballing my chest for a few minutes (while her gorgeous prow rose and fell with each breath, I might add…) she said "well, I guess we can try something in extra small."
She handed me a few polka-dotted training bras that looked more like undershirts minus the midsection than actual bras, and I went into the dressing room to try them on. Because really, I had no choice: If I didn't start undressing in the locker room, the 8th grade girls would tell everyone that I was a boy. And if I didn't have a bra to cover up my chest and everyone saw my "breasts," then the (lack of) evidence might even back up the whole "Sarah's a boy" rumor.
And so, under the judgmental lights of the Macy's Junior's Department dressing room, I took off my shirt, and put on a training bra. My meager mammaries had room to spare in the extra small polka-dotted training bra, and I actually looked more flat chested with it on, than without. As I glared at myself in the mirror, hating my body, the brutal locker-room scene from the movie Carrie flashed before my eyes, and I felt a hard lump form in my throat. My mom poked her head in to see how I was doing, and I started sobbing. She wrapped her arms around me and held me against her chest while she rocked me like a baby. "Shhh…" she said. "Shhh…It'll be ok." She let me cry for a few minutes and then said "Let's try some place else."
So, we left Macy's, and headed down the mall to Victoria's Secret. There, we found an attractive, but modest black satin number in 32 AAA which not only fit, but even gave me a hint of cleavage. And, I couldn't wait to take off my top in the locker-room the next day.
But even with my cute, black satin bra, I yearned for bigger breasts. While I certainly felt more comfortable undressing in the locker-room — especially after I received a tacit nod of approval from my big-breasted, big-mouthed bully, I continued to secretly covet the voluptuous figures of those confident 8th grade girls.
When I confided these feelings to my mom, she smiled and said, "You know, Pumpkin, having small breasts is actually a good thing."
"Really?" I asked, unconvinced.
"Yes, really. Because at least you know that they won't be sagging down to your vagina by the time you're 30."
Flashforward 18 years later — past puberty, past two back-to-back pregnancies, past tandem breastfeeding for 3 ½ years — and where are my boobs?
You guessed it. Yeah, Irony's a big-titted bitch.
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