The trials and tribulations of tatas (Maria Heck, Pt. 7)

We all know October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, right?  And you know what that means!  We talk about boobies! Jugs! Knockers! Bazookas!

Life is funny.  Even ironic!

Growing up, I ‘developed’ very early.  I loathed my Play Dough form.  My body couldn’t handle the extra cargo at such a young age.  None of my friends had this issue and I felt like either one of my extra-endowed grandmothers.  True story: To flatten my burgeoning teacups, I would wrap an Ace bandage around my chest.  It was all workable until summertime.  My solution was to wear an ugly Speedo suit, and tie the straps with a shoelace, until my chest flattened enough for me not to wear a poncho into the pool.

As my body surged forth into the high school years, I was still larger than any of my friends.  I continued to hate how I looked.  I wore billowy clothes, football jerseys and my brother’s t-shirts.  It didn’t help that the boys would yell at me in the cafeteria: “How’re those melons smellin’, Helen?”  I was so confused I would yell back: “I don’t know! Ripe?”  That is until my friend, Denise, explained that I was being harassed.  I wasn’t savvy enough to be affronted.  I just continued to dress like Mama Cass.

Now the wheels really came off the mammary wagon when I gave birth to my daughter.  I tried to breastfeed but had a legitimate fear that I could smother her with those submarines filled with nature’s bounty.  The best day for both of us was when I shoved a bottle of unnatural formula down her throat.

But my chest remained freakishly large.  I felt like I had to pay for carry-on luggage when I flew.  But I had no carry-on luggage.  Just a carry-on set of eggplants.  My back ached, I slouched like Shrek and I wanted to carry them around in a grocery cart.

I made the best decision of my life a few years later when I discovered a thing called breast reduction surgery.  I won’t go into the icky details (although you know I’d love to) but suffice it to say that it was a whole new world.  I finally felt properly compartmentalized.  My 4’11” body wasn’t being suffocated by those awful feedbags any longer.

Let’s jump ahead to 2010 (this is the ironic part) when breast cancer wreaked havoc upon my soul.  As a result, I had the mother of all breast reductions.  Goodbye toxic tatas!  You and I were never right for each other, anyway.  It’s not you, it’s me.

After countless procedures and revisions, all signs of cancer, breasts and implants were removed forever.  I was faced with the exact opposite issue that had plagued my younger years; a dichotomy of breasts.  Now I was struggling to find a way to plump me up, so I didn’t resemble a 12-year-old boy.

While I was debating the purchase of expensive mastectomy bathing suits for my vacation, my friend, Jen, said to me: “You wear whatever the hell you want!  No one knows you on that beach.  You can be whomever you want to be.  No one cares.”

A switch was flipped.  She was so right.  I decided to forget attempting to build-up my depleted sandcastles.  I am free.  I am unencumbered.  Let freedom ring!  Not swing.  I am good enough. Finally. The decades of Breast-gate are over.  How are the melons smelling?  Just right, thanks.


*Reprinted from The Sunday Dispatch*

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