In high school I remember my mother’s absolute horror whenever someone, me included, would have visible bra straps.
It was possibly the worst thing in the world to her.
As a result prom dress shopping turned into prom dress making, and every bathing suit ever made never met standards.
I remember having one, count ’em, one, spaghetti strap shirt when it was The Rage for girls my age to be daring and show off their shoulders.
You might say, oh that’s just southern morals, or that it’s modesty. But it wasn’t.
Why You Should Totally Show Off Your Bra Strap
The reason why my bra straps were a thing to hide, why they shouldn’t be seen, had nothing to do with appearances and everything to do with shielding a way too physically mature me from the world.
See, I was a 4th grader with size B breasts that looked more like I should be going into high school. Her fear was for my safety. And you know what?
She was right.
When boys in high school got in trouble for popping and releasing the closure on my bra while riding home on the bus, it was also my fault.
Because I taunted them.
Because my shirt didn’t adequately hide my undergarments enough.
Later on, I went to a religious university. Hey, for one, my beliefs aligned with theirs and secondly, fat scholarship. Money talks.
I went shopping with a girl on my hall. Slender, cute, and we often joked how I could give her one boob and still have plenty left to fill a bra.
To put it bluntly, I had plenty of breast to go around while she wasn’t as well endowed.
We both purchased the same, exact crochet shrug and frilly camisole top.
You might remember them.
They were edged in inches of lace and looked sort of like a negligee, but so long as you wore it under something, a cardigan, shrug, other shirt, whatever, plenty of people wore them.
This girl wore hers and was praised for how adorable she was.
The next day, I wore mine and got sent to the dean’s office because though I had selected a size appropriate shirt, my breasts were too large and the shrug too see through.
It was once again my fault for having large breasts that might cause the male student population to lose control of themselves.
There’s been a lot of push back with dress codes lately.
There are more people pushing for girls and women to not be held responsible for the opposite gender’s lack of control. And this is a really good thing.
Far too often we’ve saddled girls with reasons why their bodies are lacking, too bountiful, not shaped right.
I could go on, but you get the point.
The blame is not always on the girl for having curves, being pretty, or simply being desirable.
It’s beyond time that we discuss the issues of consent and self control with our young men so that when they grow up and a woman tells them no, they don’t push for more.
As a step-mom to an eight year old boy, this is something I agonize over. Does he get it? Will he understand? Can I phrase it in a different manner?
When I was in my early twenties there was a young man who was convinced that everything I was doing was an attempt at attracting his attention.
Mostly I was trying to sort out who I was and come to terms with my body.
I was figuring out how to love myself after a long struggle with anorexia and as a result I lived in over-sized clothing, covering almost all of myself.
I’d been told for so long that I was too big, that I wasn’t shaped right that my logical next steps were anorexia and living in a tent.
This is the point of my life where a young man physically assaulted me. Not when I was dressing cute and trying to be attractive.
No, I was doing everything in my power to not be noticed.
The young man was unwell, and as a result of the altercation was able to get help he very much needed, but me?
I went on a journey of self-discovery.
It took me about eight years to come to terms with my body and the breasts I was born with that bothered so many other people.
Funny enough, the single point of change came about from letting someone publicly cut me out of my clothes, but that’s a whole other story altogether (Spoiler, I was wearing tape over my bits, so it wasn’t nudity, but pretty dang close).
In the years since that altercation and now, I’d like to say that I’ve found a place of love and acceptance for me–and my boobs.
And my stomach.
And my butt.
All of me. (Okay, not my moles, those suckers are trying to kill me.)
My mother is horrified that at my age I now wear tank tops, often pale colored tank tops, with black bras.
Hey, if they made prettier colored bras that went with my shirts, I’d totally color coordinate, but until they do my preferences are going to remain black. In a small way, this is me taking my body back, of saying I accept me.
I can’t change or control how other people react to my shape or my clothing, but I can live my life loving myself. Bra straps and all.