I had always been ashamed of my breasts. I was embarrassed by their size, their shape, their volume, the large circumference of my nipples, and the little bumps around them that stood tall when I was cold. I hated the way they hung low when unencumbered by a bra, and I blamed them for the years of back pain I suffered in adolescence.
I vividly remember countless times spent standing in front of my bedroom mirror, arms stretched up to the sky, wishing my breasts would stay propped up like they were in that moment. Then, I thought to myself, I could love them.
I remember the day my mom looked at me in my bright white ringer tee with a giant yellow smiley face plastered on the front and said, “We need to get you a training bra.” I looked down at my chubby red nipples pushing out the front of the soft cotton cloth and frowned in contempt.
I hid below the roll-out lingerie shelves at the mall department store, horrified that someone I knew might see me while my mom pulled every bland coloured bra out of its plastic packaging and held it up high. “This one’s cute, Ali,” she would announce to the world. I wanted to die.
I wasn’t ready to be the first girl at school who wore a bra, wasn’t ready to have the boys chase me and snap it against my back. I wasn’t ready for the schoolyard taunting and the not-so-silent envy from the other girls. I would have traded any one of them for their undeveloped chests.
I remember wearing that bland old training bra to bed every single night in hopes that it would stop my breasts from growing and keep them from sagging down. Only later did I learn that constantly wearing a bra has a detrimental effect on the ability of our muscles to fight gravity. When our breasts are always held up, the muscles see no reason to get strong. As usual, my fear perpetrated the outcome I was hoping to avoid.
This contempt for my breasts continued well into adulthood, garnering unwanted attention at pubs, clubs, and social gatherings when someone’s liquor-induced courage allowed them to tell me what they really thought about my breasts. Compliment or critique, it always resulted in the same shrinking response. I wanted to hide them away.
I wore large, baggy t-shirts and dark colored clothing, draped myself in oversized men’s sweatshirts and big puffy coats. On occasion, I would wear a dress or a tank top or, heaven forbid, a bathing suit, and then spend most of the time awkwardly placing my arms in front of my chest to block the view.
I struggled to find a bra that fit my 36EE chest that was equal parts comfortable, affordable and adorable. My options were always black, white or blah.
I envied women with small chests or no breasts. The ones who could wear those cute little tube tops without having their boobs fall out the bottom when they took a breath. The ones who had those perky little nipples that would stand at attention, that could hide under the round of a quarter.
Oh, to be like you, I thought. Certainly you must be madly in love with your breasts.
Eventually I realized that many of us, even those girls with peppy, small breasts, have parts of our bodies that we are struggling to accept and love. We have body parts that we wish were different. We convince ourselves that if they were, it would be easier to love ourselves and for others to love us too.
As I wandered down the long, slow, beautiful path of self-awareness and well-being, I began to understand that hating my breasts was counterintuitive to learning to love my body.
I made a pact with my inner child and vowed to my higher self that I would work to transform this resentment of my breasts and put an end to this war that had waged my entire life.
I meditated, I visualized, I prayed. When I caught myself being unkind to my breasts, being envious of others’ bodies, or comparing my chest to someone else’s idea of perfection, I did my best to practice self compassion, forgiveness, and love.
I changed my diet, knowing that eating healthy, nutritious food nourishes our minds and bodies and elevates our thoughts, moods and self-esteem. I relied on my movement practices of running, hiking, cycling and walking while spending more time in nature to help build a stronger, stabler, more resilient me.
As I gradually rebuilt my courage, confidence, and well-being, I felt more empowered.
Learning that each and every input affects all of my outputs taught me that every choice I made mattered. Paying more attention to the actions I took in the world, each bite of food, what music I listened to, how much time I spent scrolling the feed, felt overwhelming at times. But the self-awareness I was gaining allowed me to consider my actions and reactions and change what I was choosing.
Gradually, I became more of the person I wanted to be.
Recently, after years of these self-love practices, following a blissful meditation on a park bench, I walked slowly, gracefully, and mindfully down the soft sandy beach. Standing topless at the shoreline, breasts proudly exposed to the bright blue sky, I moved calmly into the cool salty waters of the Salish Sea. I didn’t care who was watching, what they were thinking, or what they might say.
For the first time in my entire life, I felt completely comfortable with the whole of my being. I felt in love with myself and in communion with my body. I felt deep, genuine, exuberant love for my breasts, my nipples, my buttocks, my eyes, my thighs, my vagina, and every part of my being I had ever not loved and accepted.
I felt compassion for my old self and elation for the new me. And as I dove head first into the sparkling waters of the ocean’s majestic blue, I felt truly, deeply, and completely reborn and at all once, set free.
I’m was so excited by this life changing, breast loving, self accepting experience that it led me to create an online wellness workshop that I believe can help other people co-create similar amazing experiences in their lives.
‘How to Accept Your Breasts & Everything Else About Yourself, Too!’ is filled with practical tools and implementable tips that you can start using today! Each of them have helped move me towards more confidence, courage and self-compassion and I think they can do the same for you!
I’m just putting the finishing touches on the workshop, but if you’d like to be the first to know when it’s ready, please add your email to the line below and I’ll send you the course details as soon as it’s done!
Thanks so much for reading my story and for being on this amazing journey of life with me! I think you’re amazing and I’m super excited to grow together!
Much Love, Ali B.