Saturday, October 26, 2013

This post is about boobs (but actually it's about body image and other things)

This post is about my boobs.  Well, it's not only about my boobs but I wanted to give fair warning so that anyone who is potentially offended by this can run away now.  

Today, I went bra shopping.  This was not a planned activity; I was at the outlets, saw the Soma sign and decided to pop in and let a professional tell me what I needed since none of my bras fit anymore.  That's right, none of my $40+ a piece bras fit me anymore.  (Why are bras so expensive?  I feel kind of ridiculous spending so much money on something no one but me sees...  I guess that's the point though.  If a bra is doing what it's supposed to, no one notices it.)

If you're just popping by here and don't know me, I've lost about 45 pounds over the last year.  This is fantastic and I feel great and have gone from wearing a tight size 20 to a loose size 16.  There are down sides though.  One that has become very pointed in the last week is that without that extra layer of padding, I get so much colder than I used to.  Fall has hit us suddenly.  It is not freezing outside; it's been in the 50's yet when I go outside my teeth start chattering.  Lord save me when I get down to my goal weight if this trend continues; I'll need a parka in the summer.  The other downside for me has been my shrinking chest.  

Anatomically speaking, a woman's breasts are made of mammary glands and fat.  So I ought not be surprised at the shrinkage with the whole fat-loss thing.  And as much as I have complained about them in the past, one would think I would be happy with the size reduction.  I mean, they are heavy and they get in the way.  Yet I am now desperate to have them back.  

I think part of this desperation comes from the horror of seeing hundreds of dollars of bras getting thrown in the donation pile because I can't fill them up anymore.  This means I'm going to have to shell out serious $$$ for new ones that will fit.  I won't be able to replace them all at once; just like how I acquired the collection I'll have to get a few at a time.  But still.  This is upsetting.  

In addition to the horror of having to get rid of the bras is the size confusion.  I have worn the same size of bras for the last four or five years (hence the large collection) since I admitted that I needed a larger band size to avoid the horrors of back fat rolls.  I was also very brand loyal to Lane Bryant bras so I could walk into the store (or go online), pick the bras I thought were pretty in my size and check out without having to try on 50 different bras to find one that fit properly only to go home and find that once the elastic relaxed the band was too loose.  

I fully recommend allowing professionals to fit you buy bras.  However, you do need to be wary.  Case in point:  one very nice sales lady saw fit to measure me while I was wearing an ill-fitting padded bra and a heavy sweater.  And told me that I actually need a bra with bigger cups and a bigger band than what I was already wearing.  I told her there was no way, given the way my bras were fitting and she gave me a doubtful look and told me she would take a look at what I tried on.  

Undeterred by her lack of enthusiasm, I forged on through the racks and pulled bras in no less than 5 different sizes.  On my third bra, a different sales lady came in to check on me and I had her remeasure me just to double check that I wasn't crazy.  I was correct and the original measurements I was given were off by two cup sizes and two band sizes.  Lesson learned:  do not let sales ladies measure you for a bra over your outfit.  

I am not above societal pressures.  I won't claim that this is healthy or the way things ought to be but it is the truth and I don't think there is anyone who is in contact with other human beings that can claim they are free of societal pressure.  We are bombarded by messages about what we are supposed to look like.  I think the ideal is something like Barbie.  Or maybe Kim Kardashian.  But the reality is that most women don't look like that.  I certainly don't look like that.  We're supposed to have a perfect hour glass figure with a tiny waist and big boobs.  That's what femininity is, right?  So my breasts shrinking (naturally due to weight loss) makes me less of a woman.  (<--i actually="" don="" fyi="" nbsp="" p="" t="" that="" think="">

I'm kind of ashamed of myself for being dissatisfied with my chest.  I was never happy when they were larger so one would think I would be elated, right?  Well, I see two flaws in this little thought process here.  Flaw #1: This is my body, I am gorgeous, and I need to accept myself cellulite, wiggly bits, shrinking boobs and all.  I don't think I'm ugly.  I don't under any circumstances think I am flat-chested (hahahahaha... I wore a C-cup in the fifth grade). Accepting myself and my body is a daily process.  For all the messages we all receive telling us we don't measure up, it only makes sense to me that we have to remind ourselves just as much that those are lies and though we are not perfect, we are enough.  Flaw #2: If my womanhood is defined by two lumps of fat and mammary tissue positioned on my chest, I am doing a great disservice to not only myself but to other women (and most specifically the millions of women who have fought, are fighting, and will fight breast cancer).  

Only a colorblind person would not notice that things have gone pink for October.  I sang at a breast cancer fundraiser on the first.  The park in town has pink lights wrapped around the tree trunks.  October 13th was supposed to be national no-bra day to raise support for breast cancer (though unless you are making a donation for the right to go braless, I don't see how this is supporting breast cancer research.  Sorry if this offends you but it's true).  No women in my family have ever had breast cancer (no, we get the not-so-popular cancers of the lungs and rectum) so I can't say first or second hand what it is like to go through treatment that often includes disfiguring surgery.  I have heard stories, though, of women who feel like there is something wrong with them after the surgery, like the cancer took something from their soul and not just their bodies.  I think these women are beautiful and strong and that their scars are a mark of their strength (I love the slogan 'fight like a girl').  So who am I to insult these brave, strong, wonderful women by being dissatisfied with my own unmarred, cancer free breasts?  

So what was the point of this?  I've kind of just rambled on for a couple hundred words here about my chest, body image, and breast cancer.  I'll give you my main point right here:  womanhood is not defined by our appearance (after all, I have seen some VERY convincing drag queens before...).  Big boobs, little boobs, or almost non-existent boobs, all women's bodies are beautiful in their own way.  

Do yourself a favor and stop beating yourself up for not looking like you belong on a magazine cover--most of that is photoshop anyway ;)

Friday, October 18, 2013

An Open Letter to my Students

Disclaimer:  the opinions given here are mine and mine only and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my fellow teachers or any of my employers.  This letter does not reference any particular student, parent, or staff member and any resemblance is the sign of a guilty conscience coincidental.  So don't sue me/fire me/raise a fuss.  

My dear students, 

When I was your age, I never thought that I would one day be the one being the teacher's desk.  I was going to be famous.  I don't think I ever really considered what my teachers did at the end of the day, what their families were like, or how much time they spent grading papers and going to meetings on my behalf.  So I honestly don't really expect you to think too much about me. I think about you a lot, though, and if given the opportunity, there are a lot of things I would love to tell you.  So here we go. 

1. You drive me crazy.  We all have our bad days, including myself.  Some days, however, all of us have a bad day at the same time.  And some days when I'm having a bad day, you cheer me up.  So it all evens out.  
2. You are hilarious. ...usually without meaning to be.  The innocence of youth.  Some times you tell jokes that make me laugh, sometimes it's silly little stories, and sometimes it is the way you act.  It brings a smile to my face... mot of the time.  

3. I care about you more than you realize.  I want you to behave in my class and learn, certainly, but there is so much more to it than that.  I care about who you are, and who you will become.  I worry about you when you seem off.  I want you to be successful not just in school, but in life.  

4. I would protect you with my life.  I don't need to tell you that this is a scary world.  I hope to dear lord Jesus in heaven and on earth that it never comes down to it but know this: if danger starts coming down that hall, you better believe I will put myself between it and you.  

5. I love you, sometimes because of what you do and some times in spite of what you do.  As much as you drive me crazy sometimes, I love each of you in your own way.  

6.  You are the reason I come to work each day.  I didn't take this job to do paperwork, grade papers, and attend meetings.  I took the job because of you and my desire to help you and teach you.