My Breasts Are None Of Your Business

When I was in fourth grade, I started wearing a bra. Not a training bra. A regular bra. It’s all been downhill from there.

In middle school, a pack of aggressively lupine boys led by a sinewy jock named Jeremiah Cortez used to harass me between periods. Not about my oversized, hand-me-down blue glasses or the fact that I dressed like a boy. But about my breasts. Shoving me up against the lockers, grabbing at my breasts and leering as I squirmed away, terrified, it was one of their favorite school day activities.

In high school, the nickname bestowed upon me by all the popular kids — girls and boys alike — was “Shilslut.” What had I done to deserve this? Considering I’d never so much as kissed a boy until I was 16 (and even then, he was my one and only kiss until my freshman year of college) it wasn’t what you’re thinking. It was my breasts, which were — at this point — ensconced in a 34D bra.

At my second “grownup” job out of college, I worked in the human resources department of a Fortune 1000 company. I wore fairly conservative suits nearly every day. A few days before our annual meeting with all the presidents of the various companies we owned, my boss — the corporate HR director — called me into his office and told me to make sure I wore an outfit to the presidents’ dinner “where your tits aren’t hanging out.” The stories that center around my breasts are sadly endless.

Before I learned how to dress myself appropriately and dress for my body type (which, being completely retarded when it comes to fashion, took a fairly long time), even my good friends used to tease me. One year, one of them gave me scraps of fabric for my birthday. “To sew into your tops,” she said, “So that you don’t have your boobs hanging out all the time.”

It was difficult, learning what I could wear that would simultaneously cover up yet still look cute. A teenage girl doesn’t want to have to go around wearing sweatshirts and muumuus all the time just to ward off stares or inappropriate comments. And here’s the kicker: I don’t think my boobs are anything to write home about. All around me, every day, I see women with far more fabulous sweater puppies than mine ever aspired to be. In short, I don’t see the big deal about my breasts. I really don’t. Lately, I’ve taken a much more lax approach to dressing, usually wearing T-shirts and jeans or dresses with sweaters. Sometimes my breasts show; sometimes they don’t. I try not to think or care about it anymore. They’re there, and they’re not going anywhere.

That said, it’s taken me years to be comfortable with my body and the fact that it’s not a true reflection of who I really am. Thanks to middle school bullies, thanks to abusive bosses, thanks to all the horrible men (and women) over the years who have made ugly comments about me or my breasts without ever stopping to consider that two mounds of fatty flesh on my chest do not have anything at all do to with the person I am inside. I’m still self-conscious of my stupid breasts and often fantasize about getting breast reduction surgery (“I could wear sundresses!” “I wouldn’t sweat under my boobs anymore!” “My back wouldn’t hurt all the time!”). The grass is always greener…

Which brings us to today.

I threw on a blue dress and purple sweater (see the fashion retard comment above) as I left the house this morning, in a hurry to get to work and buckle down on the feature that’s consumed nearly every one of my thoughts lately. Around noon, I left the office to interview two restaurant owners at their restaurant in Memorial for the feature. The male owner was friendly enough throughout the interview, answering questions and carrying on a very normal conversation. The female owner, I could tell, disliked me from the moment we met. I can usually win people over given a little time, but this woman was a tough nut to crack. She never gave me an inch, and towards the end of the interview I had conceded defeat. She didn’t like me for whatever reason, and that was okay; you can’t win them all.

But what she did next floored me.

The male owner left the table to attend to some business outside, and the female owner — seeing her opportunity — leaned over and began to stage whisper to me: “Let me just give you a little advice,” she sneered.

“When you come to interview someone, especially a man, dressed like a hooker, you instantly lose all credibility.”

A hooker?

A HOOKER?

I was at a loss for words, but she continued.

“You look like a schoolmarm everywhere except your breasts.” She stopped and glared briefly at my chest. “I don’t know where to look when I look at you and it’s completely distracting. I just thought that you should know that.” She crossed her arms and stared defiantly back at me, as if daring me to say something.

What did I do? Did I set her straight? Did I tell her that my body is none of her business and certainly nothing that I can control? Did I tell her how incredibly rude and ugly she’d just been? Did I defend myself and tell her to go take her nasty attitude and shove it up her hateful ass?

No.

I apologized. That’s right, I apologized FOR THE BODY THAT GOD GAVE ME.

As soon as the words “I’m sorry” tumbled out of my astonished mouth, I immediately regretted it. Who apologizes for the way they look? Especially for looks they have absolutely no control over? It’s not as if I have a bright green mohawk, multiple piercings and sleeves of tattoos. It’s not as if I’ve had breast enhancement surgery to purposely increase their size. I don’t even own a push-up bra; I wear the ugly old lady bras you buy from Soma, the ones with extra wide straps and full cup coverage. What in the hell do I have to apologize for?

Pictured: The mud I slogged through for three days straight to get some great stories and pictures at ACL. Not pictured: My boobs. Because my boobs have literally nothing at all to do with my job. Or anything else in my life.

Nothing. I have nothing to apologize for. I’m not perfect, but I’m a pretty decent human being. And I frankly fail to see what my breasts have to do with my “credibility.” So women with large breasts should just stay at home and not have jobs? We don’t count as people because we have big boobs? We’re somehow diminished as people and reduced to just a pair of tits? If horrible, nasty women like this restaurant owner had her way, apparently that’s the way it would be. In her world, I should invest in a burqa and some duct tape for my mouth, since I have no “credibility” and am inherently an unworthy person because of how God or genetics saw fit to create me.

Fuck that.

Part of me desperately wants to go back to her restaurant tomorrow and raise holy hell. To tell her to go fuck herself for judging me and making me sit in my car and bawl with desperate, red-faced embarrassment after I left, for making me cry angry tears until all my makeup had washed off my face and my eyes were hot and raw, for making me question myself as a person.

But the smarter part of me knows that she didn’t make me do any of that. I did that to myself. I let her get to me, get to that one deep-seated, fast-rooted insecurity that all of us have inside — no matter what it is — and exploit it.

When are we going to stop apologizing for who we are? When are we going to stop letting other peoples’ opinions and nasty, hateful judgments about us dictate our lives? And, more importantly, when are we going to stop doing that to others? When will we begin seeking out the good in others instead?

I stop saying “I’m sorry” today. And my breasts? Are none of your goddamned business.

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43 responses to “My Breasts Are None Of Your Business

  1. I’m so sorry this happened to you. I probably would have grabbed her head and made her “motorboat” me. People just don’t know how to be civil sometimes. :-/

  2. that’s horrible on so many levels. I’m too much like you when faced with such stupidity, but I’m way too used to waving off stupidity. People like this should be put in their place…even if its not my (or your) nature to do so…

  3. That was rude of her. So rude.

  4. Really great post. Except for your use of the “r” word, which I humbly implore you to reconsider using so liberally. But it’s rare that people are self-aware and mature enough to realize that people say awful things but they don’t make us react the way we do.

  5. This has been on my mind since you Tweeted it this afternoon. I wish I had something smarter or more insightful to say, but it really boils down to her being a huge a-hole. I respect that you won’t reveal her name or establishment (and I don’t think her partner should be punished for her actions) but I’d prefer to not darken the doorstep of whatever restaurant she owns.

  6. *Sigh* I feel your pain! I had to wear a real bra in 2nd grade. It’s hard to find clothes to cover up the 38Ds. Hell, it’s hard to find bras to HOLD the 38Ds. Good for you for not apologizing for the way you are built. It took me a while to get there, too.

  7. I just cried a little. The good cry, though. The AMEN SISTA cry. The I-want-to-punch-that-woman-in-someplace-that-makes-HER-cry cry. And maybe a little ‘I’ve so been there’ cry.

    My favourite ‘compliment’: You’ll knock em dead when you grow into your body.

  8. You should sit down and compose a decent yet scathing response and handwrite a letter to her.
    Then sign it and write under your signature:
    PS
    FUCK YOU!

  9. Thank you so much for writing this! I completely relate on so many levels to what you’re saying. I was in the same boat as you when I was a kid and just like you mentioned it’s all kinda been downhill from then. It’s taken me a long time to work at not being ashamed of what I have to work with body wise. I’m sure that’s the case for most women and we do no justice to ourselves when we keep putting each other down. I’m so sorry you had to go through that, but it sounds like you’re coming out of it stronger.

  10. While I respect that you won’t trash this person in print, I hope you print up this blog and mail it to her. Perhaps, just maybe, next time she’ll keep her invalid opinions to herself.

  11. Interesting that throughout your life you’ve had people talk to you about your “boobs hanging out” but since they’re what God gave you, you don’t see the problem.

    I know some men with huge schlongs. It’s what God gave them. If they had them mostly visible in ways most men don’t, would that be alright, too? Because, hey, I’m all for it.

  12. I’m a 36 G and have had these things a long time. I’ve gotten to the point of simply ignoring people. This woman was jealous and shame on her for saying something over which you have no control. No one, regardless of cup size, should be showing cleavage on the job, but we well-endowed shouldn’t have to dress like nuns either. Go to Top Drawer, get yourself fitted for a fantastic bra and hoist those puppies high and be proud! :)

  13. I’ve never actually met you, but I have seen you at Geek Gathering and other events at the Coffeegroundz, and you know what, I have never noticed the boobs-only your face.
    But you know what-you have a million times more grace, beauty and humor than that woman will ever have. In short-you are the bomb and she’s just sh!t.

    • I could not have said this better myself. I’ve been a fan of your writing, both here and at the Press, for a long time and one recent Sunday I recognized you at Little Big’s in a sundress. You looked confident, regal, magnificent. And you looked like a lot of fun to be around. Being yourself and not worrying about what others think can be difficult, but it gets easier. Can’t wait for the feature so I can try to guess which restaurant this is!

  14. I applaud your professionalism. Had I been placed in your situation, I would have insulted this horrible person, which would have been worse! I am also unlucky of having a large chest (36DD) and it does affect the way I dress. It is very easy for someone with my type of body to turn a sexy dress into a very trashy garment, so I have to be very picky on what I wear. I wish my work at its quality would suffice, but even as a lowly lab-coat-wearing chemist I too am judged on the way I look. When my career is concerned sometimes it is best to “cover up”, as unfair as it seems.

  15. Angela (@AbbyNormal)

    I’m glad you have the sweet attitude that you have. You have class and she’s an uncouth bitch on wheels.

    I wish I was more like you frankly. I let the way others look at me (including my husband), push me into getting a reduction and mutilate my body.

    PS- I’m proud of you!! Wonderful posting!

  16. Olive – as a man with precisely the problem you mentioned, I can tell you that, obvious bedroom benefits aside, the life of the well-endowed man is no picnic. Never throughout my entire youth was I able to change in the gym locker without the jokes regarding my “smuggling plums” and “secret grapefruit compartment”, and that was just the produce. I’m sure you can imagine the many, many correlations between my assets and the concepts of “balls” that were made; often I was kept after class, having been anonymously accused of stealing two gym balls. It started out as tennis balls, proceeded to baseballs, then soccer balls, and so on. And forget about being able to jump rope. “Hey, John’s got a built-in rope!” they would mercilessly taunt, making me wish to God that we were allowed to do gym class in our jeans. (As you would probably know, the gifted male’s below-waist properties appear particularly juicy and delicious in gym shorts or sweat pants. )

    But it wasn’t just gym class, oh no. God forbid we take a class field trip to a swimming pool or – horror of horrors – a water park, where my bathing suit plastered to my sopping-wet meat-truncheon would draw giggles from the girls and the required shouts of “freak”, “monster dick”, and “fag” from the boys. How does having an extra-large package make one a “fag”? I was never able to figure it out, but that didn’t mean it didn’t hurt to hear. To add insult to injury, a certain amphibian cartoon foursome were very popular during most of my youth, which is how I wound up with the derisive, disrespectful nickname “Teenage Mutant Ninja Dick”. I still cannot lay eyes on any of those (admittedly blameless) green crimefighters without swallowing several years’ worth of bitterness and hurt.

    Despite having only two girlfriends throughout all of high school, I was still voted “Biggest Boy-Slut” of my graduating class. Imagine trying to explain that to your grandparents on graduation day.

    I would like to say the problems ended with the advent of maturity and adulthood; sadly, that has not been the case. My first college girlfriend broke up with me, claiming she “couldn’t handle the pressure” and was tired of the constant finger-pointing and back-biting from the community regarding her decision to date “one of *you* people”. I finally discovered my one true athletic passion – roller disco – only to find that I was barred from the local team, since whenever I would adorn the team’s form-fitting costume, I appeared “obscene”. Obscene? I’m just as God made me, and I can’t help it if sequined spandex frames me a little differently from other men.

    And just last year, a male boss of mine fired me for “strutting around the office all cocksure, if you know what I mean”. I do not strut. Actually, as is common with many men of my girth, I have a bit of a lumbering slouch. We all knew what his real problem was: he drives a Porsche, wears Affliction t-shirts on the weekend, and tries to pick up girls on Washington Avenue. Not very “cocksure”, “if you know what I mean”.

    So Olive, please understand that as long as we, as a society, deem the God-given anatomy of others to be “shameful”, “slutty”, and “obscene”, we will never advance beyond the primitive Puritan morals that caused so many full-breasted witches to be burned at so many hot, throbbing stakes in days of yore. Hopefully everyone around us will one day see a pair of fantastic, bouncy jugs or plump, delectable balls on display and see them for what they really are – a blessing. Thank you.

  17. Here is a little advice for the moron that verbally attacked you today: when you’re being interviewed, especially by a human being, and you waste no time demonstrating your spiteful psychosis under the guise of *issuing advice*, you immediately lose all hope of being considered a decent person. Please be in therapy. O.o

    I’m glad you got mad. There is no excuse for what she said to you – despite our tendencies to wear our insecurities on our sleeves, you really were attacked. She’s obviously got some industrial sized personal issues that she is not managing very well, but taking it out on you is unacceptable. I hope she gets the help she needs, for everyone’s sake.

  18. Amen, sister, from one well-endowed broad to another, for owning it. And for the record, Jeremiah Cortez was a douchebag to just about everyone in middle school.

  19. Wow. Just wow. Just guessing that shrew was an A cup? At any rate – when you are in the service industry and someone comes to interview you (ie. you will get good PR which you are not paying for), you should be professional and polite.

  20. What a ridiculous situation to find yourself in. I wish you were able to share the location of this restaurant. All us chesty gals could go in there wearing tube tops and jiggle the goods in front of the man of the establishment who evidently isn’t giving this…woman the attention she craves. I’ll bet it’s NOT because she doesn’t have a nice rack though – it’s because she’s a straight up uptight, self-righteous, frigid, boring, faux moralizing bad lay. Just a guess.

    Seriously – consider how much it would drive her crazy if, every time she walks into her establishment, there are just miles and miles of breasts. It would probably increase their business, which the guy would appreciate, while driving her crazy with her tit-hate. It’s a win-win. Let me know when you want to organize a boob-in.

  21. Okay, I wish you had told us that boys were doing that to you in school!!!!!! I would have thrown a shit fit!!!!

    Also, this woman was WAY, WAY out of line yesterday. She needs to be bitch-slapped. She spoke from a position of jealousy – that’s for sure. And from a black heart of hatred of herself. What a total, complete bitch! You tell me where she is and I’ll go take her head off!!!

    You’re a beautiful person inside and out and I hate that people have made you feel otherwise. They are idiots. It’s sad how body-focused our society is. It’s wrong on so many levels and just heartbreaking that it makes women feel so horrible!

    A pox on that woman and her shriveled, black heart. Her arrogant, pissy, hateful self. She’s a miserable human being. But you, however, are one of the most intelligent, marvelous, brilliant, amazing people I’ve ever known. I’m so proud to call you my daughter!!!!!!!

  22. What a sad person. Maybe she thought she was on the internet? I hope you’re enjoying the view from the high road, you earned it.

  23. Crystal – a ‘boob’in’ – I laughed so hard, it’s a brilliant idea…and it should take place at her restaurant! Go for it Katharine!

  24. Thanks for a great essay. Well put for all of us “naturally endowed” females!!!

  25. I’m somewhat astonished that anyone could be so rude and vicious. I know I shouldn’t be, sigh, but I am. I pity the poor patrons of her restaurant. You just know that sort of attitude leaks out all over the place. Gah!

  26. Alison–

    If you think that was bad, you should have seen the way she was treating the staff. Didn’t even make eye contact with them. She even referred to one of the Hispanic waitresses as “that little Spanish girl, whatshername” in a very disparaging tone. Appalling.

  27. Your post, and the lead-up via Twitter, moved me deeply. I had to wait 24 hours to collect my thoughts before writing a comment.
    What you have written here should be required reading for ANYONE over the age of 11 who ever plans to have any interactions with other human beings. Period. Empathy and compassion are all too rare — clearly these concepts must be taught, and then intentionally practiced. I am an optimist in believing that it is never too late to learn. Your writing gives a beautiful “snapshot” of an opportunity to feel what another feels, understand what another understands — and also, of what happens in the absence of compassion.
    By the same token, judgment and labels are prevalent. It is just as easy to label someone as rude, bitch, a-hole etc. in reaction to a hurt or offense, as it is to judge someone on nothing more substantial than their appearance.
    Behavior can be judged. Hers, at very least, was not constructive in supporting the value and dignity of another human being. It’s not possible to know her history, her motivation — in other words, judging her as a person just leads down the same road to nowhere.
    The ironic thing is — no doubt, this woman thought she was giving you some helpful career advice — and clearly, the way she views and treats people will be “unhelpful” for her business. At such times, even though we may wish for Divine Retribution, we must trust in simple karma.
    You have my admiration for your honesty in sharing this small slice of life. You’ve done a lot of good here. Thank you.

  28. Katharine,
    I feel for the horrible way that this ugly and vicious woman treated you thinking she was being helpful towards another woman. I’m so sorry she made you cry. However, I’m sad that you would use the word retard to loosely. I have a family member who is mentally retarded and have a friend with a child who is the same way.
    Regardless, I’m so sorry about how someone got to you in a manner that dealt, of all things, with your boobs. Hugs from my big boobs to yours.

  29. re·tard·ed (r-tärdd)
    adj.

    Occurring or developing later than desired or expected; delayed.

    What if it’s a fact that she was, indeed, late at developing her ability to choose proper clothing? If someone can call themselves retarded and not be facetious or mocking, why is the “R” word prohibited altogether? Seriously, get over it. It’s annoying.

  30. I shopped for a swimsuit for a young niece recently and had a hard time finding a suit (a one piece, yet!) that didn’t have a “bra” hook in the back. Bad memories of boys at the pool unhooking that device, for fun.

    The woman should be outed. Probably won’t be much of a problem once the “feature” is written.

  31. You are something else, girlie, in all the best ways.

    Feeling the urge to hug / punch / hug / punch / repeat (not the same people thought :) )

    What a small sad lady. I am hugely proud of you.

  32. You have an amazing resolve. Being from NY, I’d probably have reared back and punched her in the head (ok, not really, I’m actually a nice person at heart). I’ve had the same kinds of comments/teasings before and came to the same conclusion as you. This is who I am. This is what I was given. Time to start loving all of it!

    Keep your great attitude lady :) It can work wonders.

  33. So here is a comment that people probably aren’t going to like. Being one of the fashion-stunted myself, I was completely floored to find out a new co-worker of mine had a pair of boobs that look like they were twice the depth of her body until I saw her wedding picture. Mind you, I had been working with her for over a year. She happened to figure out how to wear clothing that didn’t emphasize her figure but still looked nice and not school marm. Another good friend admitted right away she had very large breasts because we were working on sewing clothes but again, only in certain types of clothing could you get a hint of it. Maybe you need some additional assistance from some of the wonderful large breasted ladies that commented here to help evaluate your clothing. As a small breasted woman, there are many items of clothing I think are cute as heck but if I wore them, it would look I had no boobs at all.

    Suggestion over – she was quite rude. I can’t imagine saying that to someone I just met let alone one sent to interview me.

  34. Wow!!! I am at a loss for words. Even I am appalled @ that bitch’s lack of courtesy. Hope I can find out who the owner of said establishment might be??? Bet they’d love to have the presence of a pseudo Tom Byron hanging out and harassing folks nightly.

  35. I am sitting here crying thinking about what this HORRIBLE woman did to you! I am also inspired by what a down to earth, self-assured, confident woman you are. I am on the other end of the spectrum when it comes to bra sizes and I know what it feels like to not be comfortable in your own skin. I applaud you for writing this and for keeping your head up high! Love ya!!!!

  36. Katie, I think the world would be a far better place if the rest of humanity had half of your wisdom, grace and compassion.

    I hope you don’t dwell on this too long, her opinion just isn’t worth it.

    Keep on keepin on!

  37. Katie, I just love you. I don’t think that even wearing a burka could have kept that woman from talking like that (especially since she talked badly about the hispanic lady). Some people are just there to remind us of how miserable we could have turned out. I think you are beautiful inside and out. I still remember when you invited me to your b-day in high school, you were the first one there to invite me to anything, you made me feel special and like I wasn’t a freak. Thanks for being you and for accepting me for who I am too :)

  38. I love this. I hate that this happened to you but this is how I feel all the time! I have very large breasts, overall an hourglass figure. I like my body but I constantly feel that people think I dress inappropriately. Frankly, everything I wear is form fitting and shows cleavage. WHY? Because, they are FREAKIN HUGE! Where would people like me to put them?!? I like to dress fashionably, therefore I refuse to wear oversized clothes to try to hide my figure (forged by God, not man) but even if i did, larger clothes wouldn’t fit me right because I’m not that heavy. There’d be too much room in the shoulders arm and waist. Thank you for writing this. I wish more people (men and women alike) would understand what it is like. I always think of Jessica Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit when she says “I’m not bad. I’m just drawn that way.”

  39. just starting out myself and still learing all this

  40. i’ve been through exactly the same as you. after reading this, i feel confident to say “my breasts are none of you business”. i’m small and petite and 3 quarters asian. the typical asian has small breasts but i happen to have a 32D size breasts. i constantly get pestered, harassed and judged about my breasts. recently i just filed a police report because at my part time job my boss literally asked me if he could touch my breasts as he’s never experienced such big breasts. since then i’ve become extremely self conscious about my breasts. even when i told my friends about this some of them just assume that because my breasts are big, i’m promiscuous and that they weren’t surprised this happened to me. no matter where i go people just stare at my breasts and talk about my breasts.

  41. Maybe because I grew up in the north (speaking of things people pay far more attention to than they should with the whole “Yankee” BS) or maybe it’s because I just had enough. Rather than having taunts lower my self-esteem being a fat kid, I went the other way and grew a thick skin and a sharp wit. Even though I’m not fat anymore, it made me a strong outspoken and respected (if not feared) leader as an adult.

    It sounds to me as though you have gotten to the point where you’ve had just about enough. To that I say “It’s about damn time!” and Welcome to the “No more bullshit zone!” …You’re going to be happy with the new you but it will come with challenges.

    First challenge will be knowing to tell the difference between when someone is trying to help you or give a kind word of advice, and when they are just being shiftless asses. It seems like it would be black and white….but it isn’t. It is hard as hell sometimes and there will be those who get their feelings hurt. Don’t be afraid, and have the courage to know the difference.

    Learning to temper your response from a full on nuclear verbal assault to a quick quip (which is often more cutting) will also be a challenge. This is so because of the repressive anger you may have towards some that have challenged your feelings/breasts over the years. So the next comment/joke from he or she may make you feel like the flood gates need to open. They don’t.

    Lastly, let your freak flag fly and own who and what you are with no feelings of shame. You have no control over your God given gifts, so celebrate them and be comfortable with them. There are always going to be jealous catty women, and despicable ass wipe men (I use the terms men and women rather loosely) who will never get it. They will never know the pain associated with having large breasts, or being fat, or having a visible handicap of some sort.

    So a small way to help them understand this pain, this feeling of being an outcast, of being chastised for what and who you are. Do what I do and when a comment is made whether they are alone, or especially are with somebody…tell them to “go fuck yourself” I know it’s not the high ground…and you will probably opt for something less base. But think of it as shock and awe for their psyche as they will be less likely to comment again. Plus it just feels so damned good…. be kind to your “id” and give it what it needs once in a while. There’s something to be said for your instant gratification.

    Good luck with the new you…
    Pav

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