I’ve got to tell you,
some days, it isn’t easy feeling the weight of my breasts
on my chest and in the same breath,
feeling the weight they carry with them.
On the bus, a boy stares at them from the side
thinks I cannot see him -
when I turn to face him
he is suddenly interested in the landscape.
He turns so quickly, I catch a draft.
I come home to messages on my online dating profiles
asking me my cup size, when I respond
telling them it is none of their business, they say,
but, in your photo, you are showing cleavage
so it is my business.
Sometimes, I buy shirts with necklines too high on purpose
so that it feels more like I’m wearing a straight jacket
and less like I’m trying to hide my anatomy
some days it makes me insane to think that I am often reduced
to my amount of breast tissue
and the circumference of my nipples
and it makes sense to me now why a mastectomy often means
the removal of self worth and value.
When I was 14, I remember my mother lifting my shirt
and poking fun at my inverted nipples
every time I lifted my shirt after that, I’d stare at just them in the mirror
and they became so big in my mind they’d occupy every space there was
before I knew it, there were tears streaming down my face every time
I so much as glanced down
and when I lost my virginity,
I did it with the lights off, just in case.
Some days….some days it breaks my back just to stand up straight
and so I slouch, and that makes my breasts look bigger,
and once, when I was sitting on a bench in the middle of a shopping centre,
an elderly woman said to me, your posture is terrible
if you keep sitting that way, you’ll have a hunch and I said, lady,
here’s a hunch: have you seen the size of my boobs?
The word boobs made her face contort into something of shame
and as she walked away, I felt the same shame she did.
Maybe I’d never say boobs again. Maybe I’d never acknowledge they existed.
Some days, I wish I existed in a world where my nipples were not censored
where improving the appearance of breasts was not an industry
where push-up bras didn’t exist
because all of these things combined make me despise being born with purpose -
nurture has become the second function of a breast,
the first being to please the eyes of all around us.
So, some days, it isn’t easy.
Some days, I collapse beneath the weight.
Some days, when boys stare at me from the side, I stare at them back,
until they feel so uncomfortable that they feel shame
so they know exactly what they’ve done.
‘You can’t be a poet, you’re too tender.
You’d never be able to stand the blows
it takes to tell another’s story.’
‘And besides that,
you don’t have a poet’s touch.
You burn me. You scratch me.
You leave gaping holes in me whenever you look at me.
You’re not soft enough to be a poet.
The noise in your head has to be turned down first.’
I yawned. Looked out the window.
Considered tenderly pushing him out of it.
‘So, what can a mess like me be?’
'Well,' he began steadily, like this was
the introduction to some grand speech
he had practiced in the mirror,
‘Lucky for you I love you too much to let you go,
so even with your flaws,
you can be mine.’
I waited for the punchline. It didn’t come.
He had his hands outstretched towards me,
waiting for me to take them and laugh with him
about my flaws all the way back to his place.
This was it. My fairytale.
Prince charming was a wolf in a secondhand suit,
licking his fangs at me in a rundown diner.
And here I realized, as I excused myself to
‘powder my nose’, and then slipped out the
side door, my worn slippers hitting the concrete
faster than ever before, that perhaps I am not a
damsel in distress, looking to be saved.
Maybe I am the villain. The obstacle.
Maybe every prince has been taught to save me from myself.
Or maybe, just maybe,
I am not a character that has been written before.
Maybe no woman has. We are too multi-faceted, too real.
We have circling wants that cannot be shoved into two hours
and have a happy ending slapped on them.
Maybe the stories are not telling enough.
Maybe it’s up to me.