Battle of the boobs

An amazing frank look at growing up with ample bosoms.
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It's all about the boobs.

We had a shaky start me and my boobs – breasts if you want to be more formal – I was ten and my Aunt Floss, who was not subtle, said: “she has a couple of bee stings, suppose she’s developing”. I pricked up my ears and regarded my hand knitted sweater, then I just felt a blush start; I was mortified. My mother had a magnificent prow-like bosom and measured about 44F cup, which is big. The unwanted attention was not making me feel good. I wondered if I would be like my mother.

It was a long time before I even had anything to put in a bra, but a delightful cultured Aunt on my Dad’s side took me to a little haberdashery and bought me the prettiest bra ever: it was blue and lacy and had flowers. By then I was thirteen and knew I would never emulate my mother and her generous figure.

It was the time of the sweater girl: tight sweaters and circle stitched bras, pointed bosoms and cleavage on the films. There was an actress called Sabrina, and of course, Diana Dors was also well known. I realised I was more the Audrey Hepburn size and would never be known for my dangerous curves. I made up for it in the hip department, as I had a very small waist, I measured 23, and my hips were 39. Now I think the waist is 39! Or whatever horrendous figure that is in centimetres. He was more a leg man anyway; I had the legs then. Still have them now, but just more of them.

Pregnancy was a mind-blowing experience in so many ways, the horrible sickness was a shock, but once that was over I revelled in my new found curves; I had a bust that stood proudly and had increased to double its size. I was also very lucky as I didn’t have a huge baby bump, so I felt pretty good when I regarded my new figure. This of course was short lived as the tummy eventually caught up and around eight months I was looking very much as if I might be about to produce.

Then the next phase in my story of mammaries: I attempted to feed my new baby, and it was a struggle. The new experience was hard to deal with. I was a new bride in New Zealand, no family, no support system and my husband obviously had to work. No parental leave in those days. A rather glum nurse came to visit, and I kept doing the wrong thing, according to her. But I persisted. Then I got to know my body and was delighted to realise it actually worked. I had moved into a brand new house with the new baby. Our house was completed the same week, so as our daughter arrived, my husband moved in while I recovered.

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I look back and remember those winter days when the weak sun streamed in, and I listened to the radio. There was a woman called Aunt Daisy on NZ radio then, a delightfully manic old lady who I learned so much about cooking from. “Just let the water smile, not laugh” she would say, “let it boil gently, then put the fruit in”. I also used the stories to time Kerry’s feeds. One section of “Portia Faces Life” as I fed my baby with one side, then change to the other side for The Hospital serial. I became calmer and somehow managed to feed her for six months. My breasts had done the right thing; I also fed the other two children but for a very short spell. I felt I owed them that start and although I didn’t keep it up, they had a few weeks or so, which we are told might make a difference to the immune system.

The funniest and most telling moment for me was when I actually had to borrow my mother’s huge bra. I had the third child when I returned to England. Ross was a big baby, nine pounds nine, and my body seemed to be trying to deal with that. My breasts became huge, from tiny little B cup to swollen painful F cup. So life went full circle: for a while, I was like my mother. It didn’t last, but I am quite happy with my small bosom. At least there is less to travel south. I can run without hitting myself in the eye, and I can still see my feet. On a serious note, I am 75 now and have had three friends who had breast cancer. Two survived. I still have a mammogram every two years and will do so until I am at least 80. Our bosom can be our friend, just make sure you are aware of any changes in yours.

  1. Marlee  

    My breasts were like a boy in my teenage years and I would stuff them with stockings when going to a dance. The same as the writer, it was the era of the pointy bra 1960s and it wasn’t until I had my first baby that I was able to be a sweater girl without the stockings. I breast fed my 3 babies and I have been informed that if you breastfeed for 2 years or over (one baby or three babies), you are a lower risk of contracting breast cancer, after all, this is what your breasts are there for. I am 73 now and still breast cancer free, unlike some friends who didn’t breastfeed and have had cancer or died from cancer.

    • Kaye  

      I had had to have two caesarians after long labours and although well endowed (34c) my milk had almost dried up before I even left hospital. Apparently this is common after a caesarian. I did try for about a month to no avail. My babies were formula fed and healthy. I am 73 in June and touchwood, have no breast cancer to date. I think it is mean and irresponsible for Marlee to frighten younger women who have been unable to breastfeed for one reason or another, with such statements. Genetics also comes into it and if you are lucky enough to have good genes and good health there is no need to crow about it and rub sick or terminally ill women’s nose in it.

  2. Elizabeth Pandelis.  

    I was always well endowed. At high school dances the boys’ eyes checked chest high first so I always had a dance partner. Fashion was for tent dresses, but as they fell from my verandah I looked 10 months pregnant. Then I did become pregnant and my husband knew before any tests would show because my breasts grew. When my first was born, my breast were like rock melons. My husband explained our son’s hernia as having been caused by the heavy drinking vessels.

  3. [email protected]  

    My Dad always said the first thing he noticed about my mother, from across a crowded room, was her breasts! Such total honesty!

    Love your writing Jacqui! Thanks 🙂

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