By the time I was around 10, all the girls in my class started developing breasts. One by one those breasts blossomed, and wearing a bra became a status symbol. And, one by one, those girls stopped trampolining with me.
I was a tomboy, tall and gangly. So, when the bra phase started, I suffered two contradictory kinds of dread. The first was the fear of it being discovered that I didn’t have any, and the second was of getting them – breasts, I mean. This latter fear took precedence.
It was two years after every other girl in the class had proudly made the singlet-to-bra transition that my mother insisted on purchasing my first bra. On the way to the shop, I was distraught: “Isn’t there some way of stopping this?” and “What if they get in the way when I’m climbing trees?” and “Are you sure there’s a God?”
Six months later, I caught up with the other girls and, to my dismay, rapidly overtook them. Those who had temporarily abandoned me now envied me. After all, I had the biggest breasts in the class. It was horrible!
But of course I got over it and, to my surprise, I grew up.
Years later Anthony proposed, we got married and I immediately became pregnant with Ming. It was, to say the least, a rather quick succession of events. But the thing that happened most quickly was the growth of my breasts.
So it was with an all-too-familiar anxiety that I found my breasts transmogrifying from a size 12C – to an (eventual) 18E.
By the time I was three months pregnant, Anthony and I still hadn’t told anyone except family so we were both disconcerted to be confronted with sudden, effusive congratulations from everyone – the postmistress, the local shop owner, even the lawn-mowing man. When we tried to be evasive, various subtle and not-so-subtle allusions to the size of my breasts were made. I would cringe, feeling exposed.
On every social occasion, family get-together and even at work, I was bombarded by comments about my breasts. These varied from the hilarious to the complimentary to the lewd. But it wasn’t until a friend of my mother’s visited and exclaimed, “My God! Your mum’s right – they’re gigantic!” that I decided I’d had enough.
I glared at her, then made one of those dramatic exits that pregnant people are often forced to do, due to the insensitivity of non-pregnant people. I rushed tearfully out of the house and over to the dairy, and watched the cows being milked. (The irony of this only hit me later!)
But the dramatic exit strategy worked. I had to repeat it a few times over the remaining months, but eventually my breasts were allowed to grow in peace. Strangely, my belly hardly grew at all.
I thought, and hoped, that after Ming was weaned (which only took about two seconds because he wasn’t interested) I would go back to my normal size but it never happened. One of my worst memories was of Ming walking in on me in the bathroom after my shower and running away screaming “Argh – the breasticles – the horror!”
Note: For obvious reasons there is no photo to accompany this post.