By now all you xoJane readers have heard enough about my boobs. I hate to keep beating you over the head with them (not literally of course, unless you're into that) but the damn, dear things have been part of my life since a very young age, so I feel like they are worth mentioning again.
You see, I started wearing a bra in second grade. My mom suggested it, and took me to a department store to find a "training bra," which turned out to be a white cotton with two triangular cups and a dainty pink rosette decoration.
My feelings about wearing a training bra could be divided into two camps, each containing a spectrum of various emotions: 1) embarrassment -- after all, I was the only girl I knew of who had legit boobs at such a young age; and 2) discomfort -- because it was so foreign to me, this feeling of having another garment under my shirt.
The straps bothered me. The feeling of the cotton band hugging my torso especially bothered me. What bothered me most though, was that I felt like a freak. And not only because of my early development in the chest area; by the time I reached fifth grade I was also taller than nearly everyone else in my class, shooting up six inches in just one year to reach my current height of 5'4". I am now a short adult, but I remember what it felt like to be the tallest girl in elementary school. And then of course, to top it all off, I got my period a few weeks before my eleventh birthday.
While all this was happening, I was teased by boys about my breasts -- one kid used to call me "volcano tits." Another kid used to come up to me on the playground, and make a twisting motion in front of my chest with his hands, yelling, "Tune in Tokyo!" How special.
I'd be lying if I said these experiences didn't shape how I felt about my body from that point on, even into adulthood. But I also know that those boys were just as confused about my body as I was; they didn't know how to react. (I forgive you, mean boys!)
But because of this, I spent a whole lot of time with my arms across my chest from the ages of seven to about 16. I eventually stopped doing that and just slouched instead, a habit I am still trying to break today (hellloooo, bad posture!)
None of my friends were going through what I was going through. They, with their narrow, flat bodies and me with my weird bumpy one. I was also surreptitiously reading Judy Blume's "Forever" and the "Sweet Valley High" series when I was 10. It was like my brain matured too fast, too.
And from fourth grade on, I looked like I was about 25 years old. It was especially confusing and creepy when older guys would check me out -- I was just a kid! But I wasn't just a kid; I was a kid with a woman's body who was reading sexy books but who also still sometimes wanted to play with her Cabbage Patch dolls.
And with all this development, my body became this fearful behemoth, a traitor. Sex ed class in sixth grade, with the films about pubic hair and breast development, was not news to me. While many of my peers still had all this to look forward to and could go through it together, talk about their first periods and starting to use deodorant, or wearing their first bra; I had already been through all that, alone, and here I was, wearing a D cup. Those preteen and early teen years can be doubly isolating when you feel as if your body has somehow betrayed you.
As I got older and the other girls started to catch up, I still felt too mature and out of place in most social situations. I remember this kid named Dave asked me to the eighth grade dance and I rudely shot him down; it's just that he was so much shorter and smaller than me, and here I was with these hips and these huge breasts.
It wasn't about him -- it was about me feeling awful and even more ginormous next to him. If I could only go back in time and tell myself to just go to the stupid dance with him. Anyway, sorry, Dave, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings. It was not you. It really was me.
Did you go through puberty earlier than your friends? How about much later? Did you read Judy Blume books way too young and did your parents bust you (mine did)? And are you, like me, still trying to correct years of slouching? (While we're at it: shoulders back!)