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Women Writers Wednesday; Brianna Christie



BREASTS



PREFACE

The black, female body is viewed sexually daily. Maybe that's why I thought it would be inappropriate to write an essay about my breasts. Why though? Why should I censor myself? Censor my body solely because society fantasizes about the black body but demonizes those who occupy the vessel.


CHILDHOOD

I don't remember the first time I started to grow my breasts.

I'm guessing it was second grade. A seven-year-old blossoming before any of her classmates. It didn't seem strange to me. My aunts, on my mother's father's side, all had big breasts. They reached cup sizes of G's and H's. My cousins, on my mother's mother's side, all had big breasts as well.

It was only time that my genetics would trickle in.


Dear You,

How many times have you compared yourself to someone today? I’m sure you believe that they’re prettier than you or have a better sense of style. Trust me, all of this is a fleeting thought. If only I could explain to you how society has constructed this idea of beauty that you don’t find yourself fitting into, but you wouldn’t understand. I don’t think you’d even want to listen. If only you would listen to me and see how right I am. I’m always right. You’re always right, too, but with age comes experience. You’ll understand that soon enough.


COUNTING

When you first look at them, although many view them without consent, one can see the marks that stretch across the top of my chest.

I never counted them until today. 35 stretches to be exact. 12 on the left. My left, not yours. 23 on the right. My right, not yours.

I remember my sister calling them my "tiger stripes." She was only 10 years old, this being a couple months ago. I was never insecure about my stretch marks. I'm still not insecure about them. The lines indicating my progression into womanhood. Womanhood that was bound to happen eventually to me.

But that's the downfall, womanhood coming at such an early age. What impression does that give to a young, black girl? Men looking at a 13-year-old imagining the things they could do with this body. Fantasizing about everything under my white polo that I wore as a part of my school uniform in middle school. Told to bottom up all the way to my neck to ensure that no one would look. No one would touch.


THE GAZE

In July, I visited my aunt who lives in Maryland. She's one of the aunt's, on my mother's father's side, who carries around the burden of H's on her chest.

I wore a low cut, pink shirt with no bra. Burn the bras and free the nipple, am I right? I think that's only acceptable for women with a small chest.

At the security check point at the airport, I had taken off my jacket to walk through the scanner. An employee. a man, eyed me, asking if I had a jacket to cover up. "Make sure to zip it up all the way to your neck."

Once I had landed in Maryland, my aunt told me that I needed to cover up. Weird coming from a woman who always told me to embrace my breasts from a young age. We were going to visit a friend of hers whose husband was going to be home. What does that have to do with me and my body?


COVER UP

I don't think I can look at my breasts for 30 minutes straight. I hear myself saying how much I hate them and how disgusting they look. Should I stop the timer? It's only been nine minutes. Maybe it's not too late to pick a different body part to focus on. How about my eyes? What about my legs where my birthmark that's shaped like Florida resides? This is too much to think about.


HEAVY WEIGHT

During the pandemic, I gained weight. Not much to some, but a lot to me. No, I don't have body dysmorphia, but I do think about my body daily.

I'd been wearing the same $50 Victoria Secret bra for the past three years. It's brown, 32 DDD, and turns into a half-a-bra when you remove the straps. I bought it in Florida for my 18th birthday.

I put it on in January, observing myself in the mirror, a separate occasion from today. I noticed that it didn't fit anymore. Panicking, I told my mom that I should get remeasured at the mall just to make sure.

"34 DDD."

The Victoria Secret employee stated after removing the pink tape measurer from around my chest.


BURDEN

I turn to the side while observing the bags of flesh on my chest. How much do you think a breast reduction would cost? I'm only thinking about it. I'm trying not to cry during these 30 minutes. Why do I hate them so much? Shouldn't I be proud to resemble the women in my family? The blue veins that show on my chest connecting me to my lineage. Shouldn't I want to possess the things that make me a woman? In the future, I'll need them to feed my children, right? Do I even want kids?


Dear You,

You’re only 15. You’re only 12. You’re only 11. You’re only 18. You’re only 10. How many girls in your class look as mature as you do?


WHO LOOKS?

1. The men at the grocery store

2. The men on my college campus

3. The men at the gym

4. The men in any restaurant

5. The men at the gas station

6. The men at the beach

7. The men driving their cars

8. The men outside

9. The men inside

10. The men in my bed


Dear You,


I think I know where we’ve lost touch. I think it was in that fleeting moment in your grandmother’s house back in Florida. It was when we were sharing our first moment with a boy and we detached from one another. There are many moments where I left you by yourself. I’m so sorry for that.

I should have asked if you were okay in your freshman dorm that night, but I didn’t. I tried to believe that everything was okay and it wasn’t. I’ve been pushing you away to forget about the hurt that you bring me.


COMFORT

Writing this is too overwhelming.

It's weird. I could write a whole hybrid piece about my breasts, yet I feel inclined to stop. The trauma surrounding my body is deeper than me. It goes beyond the 21 years that I've been living on this planet.

Will I ever be comfortable living with my breasts? I don't want to betray my ancestors by removing them. I do wish they were smaller. Is that my own thinking or what society has conditioned for me to believe? That my black body will continue to be sexualized and fantasized about unless I do something about it.


OLD HABITS

It’s been more than three weeks since I’ve sat and looked at my breasts for 30 minutes. I’ve reverted to my old habits. In the morning, I’ll get dressed in a “too low” cut of a top, stare at myself in the mirror, and take it off. Why is this?


Earlier this year, I was more than confident about my body, specifically my breasts. I went out with no bra. I could care less who was looking. Now, I feel like all eyes are on me. I swore I heard a group of guys commenting on my body two months ago. How do I deal with the constant surveillance and monitoring of me?




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